Jamaica is home and I am happy that my family instilled that in me from childhood. Each time I return, my love for Jamaica runs deeper. This year, I went to celebrate my mom’s 50th birthday. We stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe and everything was organized to perfection by Apple Vacations. It was the first time my whole family went on vacation together which was special.
Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the hotel. The resort is beautiful and grand. The food is absolutely delicious. The pool is expansive and I love that there are bungalows around the pool that are first-come, first-serve, so no extra payment necessary for them. The resort has over 7 restaurants but you can’t help but be attracted to the buffet, did I say the food was good? We watched the head chef do food demonstrations and learned how to make ackee and saltfish the first day we arrived.
The resort is lively. Music plays throughout the day by the pool, accompanied by fun activities. I took an amazing yoga class one morning and it was just what I needed to start my day. No resort is complete without a pool bar in my opinion. My favorite thing to drink is a strawberry daiquiri with Appleton Rum. A part of celebrating my mom’s birthday was forcing her to take photos to embrace her beauty and her life. Age 50 is such a milestone and I am so happy to have spent it, celebrating her greatness. One of the days in Jamaica, we took a day trip to Negril. For lunch, we had beef and jerk chicken patties from Tastee. Negril’s 7-mile beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The colors of the ocean vary in different shades of blue. We started out at Margaritaville and made our way to Ricks Café. From there, we went to the Glistening Waters (Luminous Lagoon) where the freshwater meets the saltwater and the water illuminates brightly, due to all of the phosphorus in the water, when you disturb it. The final night in Jamaica was dedicated to my mom. We had a beautiful dinner in her honor at the Garden Grill Restaurant, which is a steak house on the property and listened to a reggae band play Bob Marley during the nightly entertainment. Traveling to islands is harder to depart because it’s aesthetically more pleasing and overall more relaxing. I love Jamaica and cannot wait to return.
Miss Lilly’s 7A Cafe 109 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
With Labor Day around the corner, it was a coincidence that my friend had her birthday dinner at Miss Lily’s 7A recently. Miss Lilys is a Caribbean inspired restaurant that makes you feel like you’re in a shack on a Montego Bay beach (but you’re really in the Lower East Side of New York). Upon entering, I was serenaded by the sweet sounds of old school reggae music. The birthday dinner, unlike many others I’ve been to, was family style. Basically, we had a large selection of food, 2-drinks and dessert for $50.
The appetizers included: Roast Corn, Kale Salad, Jerk Chicken Wings, and Cod Fish Balls. My favorite was definitely the Cod Fishballs. For the main course we had, Salmon, Shrimp-On-A-Stick, Cole Slaw, Macaroni and Cheese, Rice and Peas, Roti Skin & Curry, and Jerk Pork. For dessert, we had Banana Pudding. The Rum Punch was the bomb. I tried a little bit of everything, and it was pretty tasty. But I must say the best part of the experience at Miss Lilly’s was the music. We danced non-stop into the wee hours of the morning. The restaurant was seconds away from kicking us out. #Goodtimes
Check out Miss Lily’s 7A if you’re ever in LES.
I took time in the morning just to relax. It was Sunday, so I read my bible, prayed and sat in silence—completely left with my thoughts. I was at peace. My first stop would be the Art Institute of Chicago. My plan was to get there by 10:30am when it first opened but once I got outside on Magnificent Mile, I was entranced by the liveliness around me.
I decided to walk to the American Girl Place. When I was around 10-years old, my mom planned to take me there for my birthday. I was so excited. However a few weeks into planning, she realized she couldn’t afford such a pricey trip. For me, it was one of those childhood heartbreaks. I acted like it was ok, but I was disappointed. When I got to the front of American Girl, I just cried. Growing up, my mom wanted to give me so much but financially she was limited. I felt so blessed to know God had exalted me to a position where I could make some of my dreams come true. It was the most therapeutic tears I have ever shed. I walked in and acknowledged all the beautiful dolls. There were hair salons and restaurants for the dolls and mini clothing boutiques for their clothes. Mother and daughters surrounded me. It was special, to say the least. I proceeded to some big girl (window) shopping at Neiman’s before heading to the three museums I wanted to tackle:
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Museum of Contemporary Photography
- DuSable Museum
After my tour of Chicago’s museum, I planned to have a nice dinner to conclude my weekend. I got dressed and went out to the Wild Hare. In the movie Love Jones, Darius and Nina spent the night dancing to live reggae music at this spot. I wanted to recreate the same scene or feeling. When I first got to the restaurant there was a soccer team enjoying beers and a few couples on date night. I asked for a table for one and enjoyed a delicious Jerk Chicken plate with an ice-cold drink on the side. The music was epic, old school reggae that reminded me of my childhood (My mom and dad loved this kind of music). There was one last thing on my itinerary that I did not get done—The Chicago Theater. I wanted to ask my cab driver to drop me there but it was getting late. Eh, maybe ill come back in the future to see it.
The next morning on my way to the train to get to the airport, in the distance I saw a sign that said CHICAGO—Wait was that the theater? With my suitcase in tow, I walked about 10-blocks along State Street until I was close enough to see it for sure. My trip to Chicago was officially complete.