Maggie’s In Bayfield, Wisconsin

This past May, my husband and I took a trip up to Bayfield because we were on a mission to see several waterfalls in Wisconsin and Michigan. While bumming around the town, we asked locals what they suggested for a decent place to grab a snack. Maggie’s and one other place, of which I cannot recall the name, were the top options.

After some debate we ate at Maggie’s. My first impression was that we had made a great choice because the atmosphere was fun with a tropical flare. There were quirky decorations and flamingos on almost every surface. I was pleased upon inspecting the menu, because they had some decent gluten-free options.

Our waitress came to the table to take our orders, and I discussed the gluten-free menu items with her. In the end, I told her I would like to go with a pepperoni and pineapple gluten-free pizza and a piece of the flourless chocolate torte. I was sure to tell her I have a gluten intolerance. My husband ordered a burger and onion rings.

The food did not come out as quickly as we would have liked, but it wasn’t a ridiculous waiting period either. At first bite of my pizza it was clear that the crust was barely cooked. The majority of the center was still raw dough and hardly warm. I flagged our waitress down and let her know that it was not completely cooked. She simply stared at me and offered no thoughts, so, feeling slightly irritated and hating to make a scene or send food back, I brushed it aside and said, ‘fine, I’ll just eat it without the crust’. I was not thrilled since they charged me extra for an uncooked gluten-free crust. I know that I should have made a bigger deal about this and that it is my fault for settling, but I have learned my lesson and will speak up more if this ever happens again.

My husband liked his food. He said the onion rings were decent, and the burger was filling. I was not happy with my food. At one point a manager stopped by our table and asked how things were. I told him the crust on my pizza was not cooked. The waitress came over and got involved in the conversation saying that the cook asked if I had wanted it cooked longer and she told the cook I was fine with it the way it was. The manager walked away, and I became quite irritated to find she didn’t even give me the option to put it back in the oven, and that the manager would brush this off. On top of it all she asked if we wanted dessert, which I had ordered with my pizza and never received. I said no, and we paid our bill and left. They charged us the full amount for the crust that was inedible.

I rarely complain about service at restaurants, and I like to give staff the benefit of the doubt if things are busy and get a little rocky, but this place was not busy and they have no excuse for their horrible service. I have never been so letdown by a waitress in my life, not to mention the manager who did nothing. There is no excuse for poor food when it’s brought to the waitress and manager’s attention. Restaurants rely on positive experiences and word of mouth to bring in new people.

If you happen to visit Bayfield and Maggies, feel free to let me know what your experience was like. This may have been an isolated incident but I’m struggling to find the desire to visit Maggie’s ever again.

For more information on Maggies, please visit: https://www.maggies-bayfield.com/

The Crown Paradise Golden in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Many of my readers may know that my family likes to visit Mexico each spring. Often we spend our vacation in Ixtapa, Mexico, but this year we tried something different. It took a good deal of research to choose the next vacation destination, but the research paid off.

Last year in Ixtapa we found our hotel overrun with children. They were everywhere, including the adult’s only pool. They screamed, they ran amuck, and they were extremely rude. Don’t get me wrong, I like children. I simply do not want them on my vacation if they cannot behave and follow rules.

Since I didn’t enjoy the free-for-all last year I looked into all-inclusive adult-only resorts. I found several great places in Puerto Vallarta but in the end we went with the Crown Paradise Golden. This hotel is located next to its sister hotel which allows children and has a huge pirate ship themed pool area and several children’s activities. If you stay at the adult’s only hotel, you can still enjoy all the restaurants and activities next door. You get the best of both worlds.

The food at Crown Paradise Golden was exceptional. The themed restaurants require reservations and I do one-hundred percent recommend them. They can be a little slow, so plan for up to two hours when dining, but it’s worth it. The restaurants are Mediterranean, Italian, American, French, and Asian inspired. Most people seem to love the Asian restaurant, so it was a little more difficult to get into. My favorite restaurant was Salvador’s, which is gourmet cuisine. The staff was delightful, and the food was exceptional. All the restaurant’s menus change nightly.

If you are looking for quick and easy food and beverages, then look no farther than the buffet which changes daily. Most people do not realize this but during off hours you can get a menu in the buffet and order specific foods. Next to the buffet is a grill which has brats, pizza, burgers, and fries. There is also a beach bar which has fresh foods such as tuna salad, fruit, Panini, and other items. In the realm of alcoholic beverages, they can be found quite easily at the poolside bar, lobby bar, or two beach bars. You definitely will not go hungry or thirsty.

Outside of food the hotel offers many fun activities such as BINGO, beach volleyball, pool volleyball, beer pong, random silly games, nightly shows, and much more. On Saturdays they have a pool party and fill the pool with bubbles. With the music blasting and sun shining it would be hard to not enjoy one’s self.

Outside of the hotel you will find boats ready to take you parasailing, beach massage stations, and plenty of white sand to walk on while the waves lap at your feet. You will also find people wandering the beach selling an assortment of items. They will wander up to the beach bars, so if you are not interested, simply say no. If you show interest every single salesman will come directly to you.

At the front of the hotel across the street is a spa. This place had the best prices for massages and they gave an amazing pedicure. I highly recommend them. If you are looking for the boardwalk and restaurants off the grounds, you can get a taxi that will take you downtown for a mere $6 each way, though check ahead because this can change. You are also in walking distance to Walmart, the peer, and a grocery store in case you forgot to bring anything.

Keep in mind that March is the end of Puerto Vallarta’s winter so it can be cloudy and sometimes cool. April is probably a better time weather-wise, but we always go in March and intend to go back for ten days this next year. No matter the weather, it’s still one of the safer locations in Mexico and there are plenty of things to do at the Crown Paradise Golden.

For more information on the Crown Paradise Golden, please visit: http://www.goldencrownparadisevallarta.com/

Pipi’s in Puerto Vallarta

Prior to visiting Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, my family asked around to find out which restaurants were recommended by others. Only one particular restaurant was mentioned consistently, and that restaurant was Pipi’s. Everyone seemed to have walked away with the same great memories and could not wait to tell us of their experiences.

Pipi’s is indeed Mexican food, but so much more. If you are looking for an atmosphere that basically pulls you into a fun time, this is the place to be. The food was exceptional. Our waiter prepared guacamole right at the table. The drinks we enjoyed were margaritas the size of boats. They had several flavors to choose from. I couldn’t finish the whole thing because of the sugar and decent pour of alcohol, but I would definitely go back for another in the future.

The live music was a ton of fun and added to the energy of the evening and made you want to sing along. We could have sat and listened all night, partially because we were too full to move. We watched as many people sang along and celebrated their own special events such as birthdays and anniversaries which were accompanied by sombreros and tasty desserts.

If you want a memorable experience with great food and music, check out Pipi’s, you won’t be disappointed: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150793-d1032796-Reviews-Pipi_s-Puerto_Vallarta.html

 

Puerto Vallarta City Tour

This past March my family decided to take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. None of us had ever visited Puerto Vallarta previously, but we have all come to agreement that we will definitely be returning in the future. The trip was so much fun we can hardly wait to go back.

Now, I’m not much for all day tours of the cities I visit. I usually prefer to explore on my own, but we were given a free city tour when we booked another excursion through our hotel. The funny thing is I enjoyed the city tour more than the snorkeling excursion we went on. I highly recommend the city tour if you are visiting Puerto Vallarta for the first time.

The particular tour we went on departed in the morning by air-conditioned bus. We drove down to the boardwalk where we were given some time to take pictures and look at sculptures. We walked across the road to a beautiful church and then got back on the bus and went to several other locations.

We were able to visit a jewelry store, with open bar. We went to a candy shop where we got to try several local treats. We toured a tequila distillery and tasted seven different tequilas and then we ate lunch on location. Lunch was of our own expense, but totally worth it. There were several food choices which were all served family style. We ate shrimp, chicken, beef, and pork. There were also seafood options available, and the prices were minimal. After lunch we made a final stop at a coffee plantation where we were able to try some organic coffee and flavored tequila.

This tour has a little bit of everything included. We definitely got plenty to eat and drink. Our guide spoke both English and Spanish and he was also quite the comedian. He gave us tons of information about Puerto Vallarta which included stories about some of the rich and famous who had inhabited homes on the countryside. The views were beautiful and I would even partake in this tour a second time around, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

For more information on the tour, please visit: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g150793-d11485712-Full_Day_Puerto_Vallarta_City_Highlights_Tour-Puerto_Vallarta.html

The Spirit Of The Holidays

Ho ho holidays. It’s that time again. Remember when you were a child, and the holidays seemed to be all about gifts and the magic of what could be inside those neatly wrapped packages? Heaven forbid it was a sweater.

I remember one Christmas when my sister was young. Grandma Ambers gave her a gift to open; she was probably about four years old. My sister, eyes glistening, tore into the package like her entire magical future might be hiding inside of it. Opening the lid she peered into the magical box and I watched as the excitement faded from her eyes. She pulled out a sweater that my grandmother thought to be, “just darling.” Raising the sweater up from the box her response was, “that’s not a very nice present.” I’m pretty sure I lost myself in uncontrollable laughter.

Children don’t always understand what the holidays are about, and honestly, neither do adults. The holiday season is about love. Every single day should really be about love. This past year I saw more death than I’ve seen in all of my thirty-six years put together. We don’t know how much time we have, and while we receive reminders of that short amount of time, are we really living our lives to the fullest?

I buy gifts for loved ones because I enjoy trying to find something I know they will love receiving, but in all honesty, what matters, in the end, is that we come together and spend time with the people we care about. We don’t know if our brother- and sister-in-law will be with us next Christmas, or if we’ll have the same home, or if we’ll even live in the same state as one another. What we do know is that we can tell the people we love how much we care and show them through our laughter and communion together.

Instead of worrying about things being perfect (I know you will anyway) go out and enjoy meals together. Drive around looking at holiday lights. Drink homemade hot cocoa by the fireside while playing a game. Go Christmas Caroling (that’s a dying pass-time that should be resurrected). Go sledding and build a snowman. Put down your phone. I repeat, put down your phone. People are getting tendonitis from overuse of their phones (I’m one of them). Have a silly photo shoot where you wear holiday gear, antlers, elf hats, etc, and make funny signs to hold up (if need be, use your phone for this). Bake holiday treats together while listening to holiday music. Cook some new recipes and sip wine together (if you’re of age). Heck, go on a wine tasting (but be responsible). Whatever you do, remember it’s about the fun and magic of the season. It’s about being together and that doesn’t have to cost anything.

As we move into the New Year, I am thankful for my life and that I’m still alive. I am thankful for my family and friends who are still here. I am thankful for my cat, Draco. I am thankful that I am following my dream of writing. This is my challenge for you: start living your life to its fullest. Be kind to others. Don’t do the things you hate doing, do more of the things you love. Take care of yourself. You never know if tomorrow will come.

Love to you all and best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season. Now go out and make happy memories! Oh, and if you’re one of those people who loves someone but you haven’t told them, maybe go out and do that as well (the movie, Love Actually, can help you with that).

***Image is from Jolly Holiday Lights by Make A Wish, in Altoona, IA. (check it out if you’re in the area).

http://iowa.wish.org/news-and-events/calendar-of-events/november/event-detail-page

***Also check out Christmas Village in Irvine Park if you’re in the Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls, WI area.

http://www.chippewafalls-wi.gov/your-government/parks-recreation-forestry/irvine-park/christmas-village/about-christmas-village

Fun At The Lumberyard Pub

Last week I wrote an article about Ladies Night at The Historic Afton Inn. To go along with that article I would like to let people know about another of my Ladies Night favorites. This one is a lot of fun and it combines two of my loves; purses and Bingo.

If you like playing Bingo you have got to check out the Lumberyard Pub. The Lumberyard hosts Coach Purse Bingo every third Thursday of the month. To make things even more exciting, each person receives a ticket and a chance to win a free beverage. The atmosphere is fun and definitely has its regular patrons whom you will hear hooting and hollering when they win a prized purse or drink for that matter.

Aside from winning purses and free beverages, the food at the Lumberyard is awesome. They have Wisconsin cheese curds, wings, nachos, sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads, just to name a few items. I haven’t eaten anything that I didn’t love. All of their food is great as well as the service.

Come on out, bring your friends, have some fun. The Lumberyard is a great place to spend an evening.

For more information on the Lumberyard Pub, please visit: http://lumberyardpubafton.com/

Ladies Night At The Historic Afton House Inn

If you live in eastern Minnesota or western Wisconsin and you are looking for something fun to do with your ladies, or maybe even your significant other, come on out to Afton, Minnesota the third Thursday of each month and take part in Ladies Night.

Start your evening off right by checking into, The Historic Afton House Inn. You cannot go wrong with one of their whirlpool suites. Men will feel encouraged to join in if they know all of the excitement and fun involved. This Inn has twenty-one uniquely decorated Jacuzzi suites. Some of the rooms have river views as well as fireplace, and a patio, or balcony. I personally like to use this event for date night because honestly we both have a great time.

After check-in wander through the inn to Current Restaurant for Happy Hour, where you will find great specials on appetizers and drinks. I can personally vouch for the food at Current, it is quite delectable. The low lit room provides a nice ambiance for reconnecting with loved ones, and the service is excellent.

If you are a wine lover, you absolutely must head over to Swirl, which is located inside the inn. They offer a free wine tasting for Ladies Night, but don’t worry men, you won’t be excluded. The tasting consists of a variety of different red and white wines. My favorite by far was the, 2012 Amayna Sauvignon Blanc, which is a nice crisp and refreshing Chilean white wine. Despite having a clear favorite, I greatly enjoyed all of the different wines on the list. Aside from the wine, Swirl has a great atmosphere with wonderfully attentive sommeliers. They also serve food, which I hear, great things about, but have not yet had the pleasure of trying. Rest assured I will be back to visit in the near future and I will do a more in-depth article on this lovely little wine bar.

Other fun things included in this evening are door prizes and games, as well as a variety of sidewalk vendors. You can even take in some free music on the patio outside of Swirl. This month ladies night will take place on July 19th and the giveaway will be for 187ml bottles of Blanc De Bleu.

After you have had your fill of the wonderful Ladies Night activities, you can purchase a bottle of wine to take back to your Jacuzzi suite and enjoy as you soak away any stress from the week. You will sleep well on the comfy beds which feature, My Pillows, and wake feeling refreshed and ready for the inn’s included, hot and tasty breakfast. Breakfast often features: coffee, tea, juice, fruit and yogurt parfait, and some form of egg omelet or frittata.

I have a history of traveling to many different towns and trying out the bed and breakfasts. This particular experience is one of my favorites, because this inn has a certain charm to it and there are so many things to do in one setting. Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

https://aftonhouseinn.com/

http://www.swirlmywine.com/

Adventure is wherever the desire takes us.