What it’s like to Work in the Caribbean

Every time I went on vacation I looked at the entertainers and wanted to be them! I would always ask how they got their job and what it was like. It looked like a dream to me. Live on the beach, meet new guests every week and play games and sports all day.

I was told about an agency, Get Up & Go Global a few years before I started actually looking into moving South. When my life got stagnant and I felt it was time for a change, I emailed the company and 10 days later I was off! They sent me job postings for different hotels and places in Mexico and I accepted one of the first ones they sent in Puerto Vallarta.

Life as an entertainer is fun! If you don’t speak Spanish very well you’re going to want to move there for North America’s winter so your guests are mostly English speaking. I moved there during our summer which was a challenge, but forced me to learn Spanish, and fast! I spent all day asking my colleagues “Como se dice … en espanol?” or “how do you say …. In Spanish?”.

I lived in a motel up the street from the hotel I worked at with all of the other entertainers. It was a perfect place with a pool. My roommate was from the States and we hit it off. We had to be at the hotel for 7am each morning where we could eat breakfast from the main buffet. Breakfast was followed by a team meeting assigning us to our activities for the day.

IMG_9255

A standard day for me was yoga at 8am, beach volleyball at 9,  bicycle tour to the dolphins at 10, water polo at 11, water aerobics at 12, dance practice at 1, lunch at some point in and around there (either at the staff lunch room which was breakfast leftovers covered in heavy mayonnaise or with a guest at one of the hotel restaurants), water polo or a crazy game at 3 (drinking contests or pool races guests vs staff and I was one of the only girls, so that always got interesting!), beach volleyball at 4 and rock climbing at 5. We had a break from 5-7 when I would almost always do a workout in my room. We went back to the hotel for 7 where we could have dinner from the main buffet and then we had to promote the evening show. We walked around the buffet in costume telling people IMG_9281where and when the show was and then danced in the first show at 8:30. We would do a second show at 10:00. After the show we had an activity in the lobby like karaoke or casino night and then certain nights of the week we would have to accompany guests to the hotel disco.

On nights when we didn’t have to go to the disco, and even after some nights when we did, we would take guests out downtown. This is where we made a bit of money as the clubs paid commission. This part of the job is male dominated and it’s hard to take the lead as a female so I usually just joined for the party and made a small portion of the commission. We still entered and drank for free all night and I was happy with that! This was my life 6 days a week. On my day off I’d take my laundry to the laundromat by biking for 30 minutes each way with a garbage bag full of dirty clothes on my lap. I’d go to the beach, attempt to surf, go for an authentic Mexican meal or have drinks with friends!

I made $2.10/hour and had to ask guests to leave me shampoo and toiletries as I couldn’t afford much out there. Yet I lived without a care in the world. I was so happy every single day. I woke up to the sun shining, played and was active every day with new people every week. I had so much more energy being that active then I ever do sitting at a desk all day. I met people I’m still in touch with today, 7 years later. I learned a new language, I danced in shows and I am not a trained dancer and I enjoyed everything life had to offer that had nothing to do with material possessions. I miss all of that!

At home in Toronto I was more on the superficial side, always wanting the nicest clothes, bags, shoes and car. In Mexico I got to simply be me. I stripped away the layers of insecurity and materialism and the feeling that I needed to impress or keep up with others and I basked in the joy that my soul felt. I found love, laughter and a never-ending wonder in Mexico and I left a piece of my heart there.

I’d never do it again, I don’t think my 30 year old body could handle those hours but I will never regret doing it and I would recommend it to anyone who’s young and looking for an adventure!

IMG_9288
Feeling as free & happy as can be with my friend and fellow entertainer, Carlo

Weekend Getaway to Montreal

A quick 45 minute flight and we had landed in Montreal, the perfect weekend getaway from Toronto. In the airport, the line for a taxi was outrageously long. Pro tip – there’s a booth in the airport for an app you can download which is essentially like Uber for a taxi company. When you download it you get $10 off your first ride and don’t have to wait in the massive taxi line. We opted for public transit as there was no line at all at the ticket machine. We took a bus to the subway and the subway 3 stops to our hotel. Their subway is fast! I never take public transit in Toronto and it was actually a painless experience in Montreal. After 4pm on Fridays you can get a 3 day bus and subway pass for $13.00, worth it even if you only end up using it the single time to get to your hotel.

We stayed at the Best Western Ville-Marie downtown https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotel-details.67012.html?iata=00171880&ssob=BLBWI0004G&cid=BLBWI0004G:google:gmb:67012. The Best Western’s I’ve stayed in in the past left much to be desired but this one was actually beautiful. A large marble entrance, extremely friendly concierge and very spacious room. We paid $147/night which isn’t bad for a weekend and a centrally located downtown location.

There’s quite a lot of construction on the roads downtown right now so it was faster and easier to walk everywhere then try and get an Uber and nothing was far from our hotel.

We had the most amazing brunch at Café Napoleon on sunny Saturday morning in the Plateau http://www.cafenapoleon.com/en/. It was about a 30 minute walk through Montreal to get there and every turn got more beautiful than the last. Each building has its own character and charm. I had the special which was egg whites, bacon, crispy breakfast potatoes, toast, a pile of fresh fruit, a crepe filled with Nutella and bananas and bottomless coffee for $11.95! Every bite was delicious and it was more food than I could ever eat. They’ve got a great patio out front where we sat.

After brunch we strolled around the Plateau and went into some churches along the way. We ended up on Ste. Catherine Street where we shopped for a few hours. The deals were great and the busking musicians were better! Buskers in Montreal have to audition for prime locations like on Ste. Catherine and they are phenomenal!

We had dinner later that night at Atma back in the Plateau https://www.restaurantatma.ca/.  You must make a reservation here and you also must go! It’s an Indian restaurant with a unique and authentic atmosphere. Seating on the top floor is on the ground on cushions and then the main and 2nd floor are regular seating. We were served by the owner who regaled us with stories about growing up in London, England and how he grew to love cooking his native Indian food. We asked what he would recommend and he told us he would make us a special lamb dish, his favorite that is not on the menu. I love when servers or chefs offer this, it gives the service that extra level of greatness and makes you feel valued as a customer.  We started with Chicken 13, a slightly spicy breaded chicken, onion bahji’s, samosas and naan bread. I would skip the samosas, they are almost deconstructed and weren’t the best thing we tasted, leave room for the other dishes! The onion bhaji’s were so good, I probably had one too many! For the main we had rice, butter chicken, shrimp madras and the special off-menu lamb dish. Every dish was unbelievable! Some spicier then others, but the yogurt dip evened out the heat for those who couldn’t handle the spice. We enjoyed an Indian beer with the meal and left stuffed! We walked back to the hotel to let our food go down and were immersed in the vibrant beat of Montreal’s nightlife scene. If we weren’t so full, would have stopped for a drink along the way!

From culture to sightseeing, shopping and fabulous food Montreal offered the perfect weekend getaway!

* To anyone traveling in or out of Toronto Pearson airport right now, expect to wait! Our flight home was delayed 7 times over the course of 2 hours and went from a 6pm to almost 10pm flight. When we landed in Pearson there were loads of people still waiting for delayed flights, sleeping on the floor and seats.

* The airport is currently undergoing runway and taxiway construction that has been ongoing since March 28th and is set to be finished May 16th.

Photos from the Good Parts of Thailand

 

IMG_9628
Sleep+Mojitos = 🙂 Beach Republic Hotel

 

Thailand Trip – December 2015

10 Reasons Why You Should Leave Thailand in Your 20’s

  1. The security “line” at the Bangkok airport. After a 26 hour flight, it took 2 hours of being herd like cattle to get out of the mass of people. Thirsty? Hungry? Need to use the washroom? Too bad.
  2. Parts are so dirty! We flew into Bangkok and the pollution in the air was thick! We rode in a tuk-tuk and when we got back to the hotel and showered, streams of black came off our bodies. Don’t get me started on the smell!
  3. Don’t go to Koh-Phi-Phi if you like sleep. I went with my boyfriend, we both like to party but we both also require sleep, especially after a 26 hour flight and 11 hour time change. We chose a hotel that was as far away from the party beach as possible. The noise carried over the water and it sounded like the club was inside of our room until 4-5 am every.single.night. Our room shook and not in a good way! The ideal answer would be to just join the party, but when you haven’t slept more than a few hours in a few days that isn’t high on the wish list. FYI if you stay at the Cobble Beach Resort be prepared to either party or not sleep. The view and pool were awesome so ideal for anyone who wants to pull a few day no-sleep bender!                                                                                            *If you do go to Koh Phi Phi check out Cosmic, it had the best food and the                      massages on this island were unreal!
  4. Traveling between places took so much longer than expected! We packed a lot into our trip because the domestic flights were so short! Our 1 hour flight, turned into 3 hours in traffic to get to the airport, an hour delay for the ferry, the ferry that was supposed to take 45 minutes (according to their website and signs at the ferry station) took over 2.5 hours then once we reached the island we had to walk with our bags to the hotel, which was not exactly close. All would’ve been ok if we were mentally prepared for this, but our 1 hour flight and 45 minute ferry ride ended up being a 12 hour travel day! This became the norm every time we changed locations. Beware when planning your trip. The traffic in Bangkok is gridlock 24/7.
  5. When you take ferry’s they pile your luggage on top of each other. Imagine hundreds of people on a ferry, hundreds on bags in a massive pile-up and trying to a) find yours b) tackle people to get your bag and c) release your bag from the pile. Happy Hunting!
  6. Drunk people everywhere! Maybe I went too late in life (I was only 29) or was past my prime party days but the belligerence level on the islands is insane! People passed out on the street, people peeing everywhere, puking everywhere, hooking up in the streets, smashing into you, spilling drinks on you, screaming and we saw someone who had dived in the pool drunk earlier and smashed his head open, but was back drinking later that night.
  7. It was expensive! Maybe it’s because we went over Christmas and New Year’s or maybe we just didn’t know where to go. All we had heard was how cheap Thailand was so even though our flights and hotels during the holidays were very expensive, we thought, “its fine everything there will be cheap.” Our meals for 2 on average were $40-$50/meal, drinks usually $5-$8/drink, I bought a razor from a store for $11. Felt like I was at home in Toronto, not in “cheap” Thailand.
  8. The washrooms. The floors were always soaking, there was never toilet paper or soap and 9/10 were holes in the ground with a hose beside them to wash off but nothing to try yourself with. Pack tissues, hand wipes and sanitizer! Ladies, you’re going to be professional low squatters after this trip!
  9. Maybe I was extra cynical because the partying never allowed us to catch up on any sleep. The few nights we did party were awesome, so if you’re going just for that you’ll love it and the massages can’t be beat, they were the only “cheap” thing in Thailand that we experienced.
  10. Koh Samui was about the only redeeming part of this trip, it was a slice of heaven. We stayed at Beach Republic and it was amazing! The town was so much fun, the restaurants and shopping were great and at long last, we slept. The beach party at Ark Bar is a must-go

Overall, I probably should’ve gone in my late teens/early 20’s, single and ready to mingle and brought lots of red bull with me! Sorry Thailand but, see you never!

Bangkok-Thailand-toilet-washroom-dirty
Enjoy Ladies!

 

Israel – What To Know Before You Go

If Israel’s not on your bucket list, put it at the top, now!

Israel is a rare country that you can drive across in 6 hours, making it a great destination to stay settled in one place and day trip out from there! One of the hardest parts about traveling to far-away countries for me is constantly moving and never being able to unpack and settle. If you’re like me, you’ll love Israel!

The Ultimate Israel Trip 

See the following blog posts for information on what to do in each of these places!

If you follow this itinerary, I promise you will have a life-changing and awakening trip that will leave you forever smiling at the memories!

  • Jaffa
  • Tel Aviv
  • Golan Heights
  • Arad
  • Dead Sea
  • Jerusalem
  • Tiberias (if time)

 

Israel – Where To Stay?

The Margosa Hotel in Jaffa was the perfect boutique hotel and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Located a 10 minute walk from the Jaffa Port, the world’s oldest seaport and a 10 minute drive into the heart of Israel, Tel Aviv. Margosa is a boutique hotel that really takes care of their visitors. Stays include a delicious buffet breakfast with a yogurt, fruit and muesli bar, eggs, breads, pastries and lots of other Israeli fare. In addition, the Margosa has the best coffee/cappuccino I’ve ever had, available 24 hours a day, along with freshly squeezed orange juice, lemonade and water with fresh mint free of charge. They’ve also got snacks available 24 hours including fruit, pastries, chips and other treats.

One night we went downstairs for some chips and there were no more (though there were plenty of other snacks), the concierge heard us say we were disappointed that there were no chips and he went out to the store and brought us back a large variety, free of charge. I can’t think of any other hotel like that! They had great recommendations about where to eat, where to go and were always there to give us directions and help us make bookings for excursions, taxis and restaurants. The special touch added by such attentive staff, the quaint rooms with Jaffa orange trees on the balcony and the lovely atmosphere make the Margosa a must stay! It’s got free parking as well if you rent a car.

http://www.margosa-hotel.com/

Fun fact: Did you know Jaffa Cake cookies are named after Jaffa Israel due to their abundance of orange trees? I’ve eaten them since I was a child and had no clue!

 

Israel – Where to Eat?

Almost all of the Port restaurants in Jaffa and Tel Aviv serve 20 different kinds of salads, dips such as hummus and tahini, falafel and fresh cooked pita bread before your meal even arrives. You also have the choice to skip the main and fill up on these delicious starters that they re-fill free of charge in most places. This is a true Israeli dining experience and the flavors will overwhelm your taste buds like nothing else! We ate at Fisherman’s Restaurant in the Jaffa Port and would highly recommend it, skip the mains (they weren’t very good). The starters were more than any of us could eat and were mouth-watering, especially the falafel! You’ll also have a front row seat to lots of wedding photo shoots occurring along the port as you eat and drink the most delicious fresh squeezed lemonade that comes with the starters. http://www.rol.co.il/sites/hadayagim/

Onza was a restaurant that our hotel recommended to us. It’s a Turkish restaurant and having been to Turkey, I wasn’t overly enthused to try it. Was I ever wrong! This food was spectacular, but likely not your cup of tea if you’re very health-conscious. We shared Turkish bread, the shawarma, the Lahmi Bajn Taboon, a pizza mixed with a lamb taco type of dish, and the lamb “Arais,” a panini lamb sandwich. The shawarma was the best I’ve ever tasted! Everything was delicious! The server brought us over free shooters and free dessert and the service was exceptional start to finish! A must-go while in Jaffa! http://www.onza.co.il/

In the same area as Onza there are a ton of great restaurants and bars. One alley will give you a busy upbeat atmosphere while another will give you quaint quieter restaurants, perfect for a date. We had a great Italian meal around here.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, there is a gelato shop right by the Margosa Hotel, literally across the street that made incredible Nutella crepes topped with the Gelato of your choice (the snickers gelato is a must!). There are lots of great gelato shops around the area.

Finally, if you want some of the most delicious falafel but are looking for more of a grab-and-go in the Jaffa area, Haj Kahil Express by the clock tower in Jaffa is bar none! Stick to the falafel here and enjoy every delicious mouthful, the fries were delicious and extra crispy as well if you’re in the mood! The only English word on the restaurant sign is “Express” but you won’t miss it! They’ve got a full service restaurant right across the street as well if you’d prefer a sit down experience at Haj Kahil.  http://www.hajkahil.rest-e.co.il/

17904491_10101455294257320_9145956752248544297_n
Onza, Turkish Restaurant, Jaffa
18033869_10101455294252330_6543261513012089113_n
Fisherman’s Restaurant, Jaffa Port