If Anthony Bourdain is not reason enough to get your tickets to the 2017 Cayman Cookout, here are 10 more reasons why you should…

Tickets are on sale for the 2017 Cayman Cookout, created by Chef Eric Ripert January 12-15, 2017 at the Ritz Carlton on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman Island. This intimate culinary weekend will bring together Chef Ripert and special guests Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés, Emeril Lagasse, Christina Tosi, Terrance Brennan, Daniel Humm, Tim Love and Roland Passot, along with famed mixologists Charles Joly and Bob Peters.


This past January, during MLK weekend, I attended the Cayman Cookout with my three girlfriends for our annual “Girls Vacation”. We have gone on girls vacation each year since 2002, and it was one of the best ones to date. We spent 5 days in paradise, surrounded by the best chefs in the world. Literally!!! We had an all access pass to Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, Ludo Lefebvre, Jose Andres, Hubert Keller, food, wine and rum punch for the week.

The Cookout started on a Thursday, but since we were flying in from different parts of the country, we decided to take the day and relax, explore the island, get acquainted with our resort and reunite with each other. We all flew in around the same time, rented a car and got the party started!


About this time last year, we started planning for this trip and we decided as a group on the events that we wanted to attend during the cookout. We narrowed them down by the obvious. Anthony Bourdain, buffet style food tastings (because we have no shame) and we threw a wine tasting in there. We ended up choosing “Around the World with Anthony Bourdain” for that Friday, and “Sailing the Silverado” which was a wine tasting on a catamaran later that evening. We had Saturday to ourselves and got tickets  the the “Palm Party” where Chef Hubert Keller was the DJ and we ended the weekend Sunday at the “Bon Vivant Cook -off Brunch”.

We left our resort super early to drive over to the Ritz Carlton and check in for the cookout and get all of our event tickets and event swag. There is a comfortable hospitality room setup for cookout guests to hang out in with several sofas available, water, rum punch is flowing and plug ins are close by to charge up your cell phone. This is also the place where you check in and volunteers are there to answer all of your questions. When you check in, you receive your bag, a year subscription to Food & Wine Magazine and unlimited samples of rum cake during the whole weekend. Yes! As long as the hospitality room is open, help yourself to rum cake. The Ritz Carlton also offers a free wifi code to cookout guests for the weekend as well so that we can snap, post and share.

We are all checked in, off to see the man that we came for, Anthony Bourdain!!!

This session is set up outside on the back lawn like a food festival and it showcased up and coming chefs from the island. There was plenty of covered seating available and it was a gorgeous day. Bourdain casually strolled in with a cookout attendee on time and headed right to the first booth. Each booth served food that was local to the island and it was anything from conch to wild boar. Anthony Bourdain took his time to taste each dish  and give his opinion. He was the most gracious host! He took time and answered questions from the guest who were there at the end and he took pictures with us as he moved from each booth along the way. We even had a surprise appearance from his good buddy Eric Ripert during the session. The food was amazing and plentiful and there was never a line to stand in to get an item. No one ran out of food and the rum punch was served all the way until the very end.

Around the world with Anthony Bourdain was amazing! We are stuffed and a little tired and we have our wine tasting event coming up this evening. Luckily the hospitality suite is available for us to relax in and there is space available for us to freshen up and change our clothes. One thing that you may not know about me is that I have a major school girl crush on Chef Ludo Lefebvre. I love Ludo’s accent, his tattoo’s, he’s cute, I could go on. We are all relaxing in the hospitality suite and guess who walks in… Ludo! I freak out, he freaks out, I ask his wife to take our picture and my day has been made all over again.


Later that afternoon right before sunset, we were bused to Lalique Point Dock and we boarded a catamaran for the Sailing with Silverado event. Silverado Vineyards is located in the heart of Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley. This region is known to produce some of the most stunning Cabernet Sauvignon’s in California and in the World. We were greeted with bites of Ceviche, wine and at the end of the sail, we were served a 2001 limited edition Silverado made only in the best vintages. It was a highly rare batch, only 300 cases were made per Mr. Russel Weis, President of Silverado Vineyards, who joined us on the sail.

Saturday morning we enjoyed the sunrise over the beach from our balcony, we laid out, enjoyed the infinity pool, the swim up bar and happy hour. We drove into town and had the best dinner at Osetra Bay Grand Cayman. The meal and service were outstanding. After dinner, we headed to the Ritz Carlton for the “Palm Party” hosted by Chef Hubert Keller. The whole weekend has been very laid back. All of the Chef’s have been very approachable and friendly. No one has been pretentious and there has not been a need for anyone to walk around with security. The party had a cool house music vibe. Chef Keller went from behind the DJ booth to the dance floor enjoying himself with all of us. Lionel Richie even made an appearance in the hotel lobby. We danced the night away!

Sunday is here and we have our final event for the weekend, the Bon Vivant Cook Off- Brunch! Endless Moët & Chandon Champagne and extravagant brunch selections. Grand Cayman’s most ambitious amateur Chefs duel in a live cook-off in The Cayman Islands Ballroom at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The amateur Chef finalists face-off during Sunday brunch and the winner is determined by celebrity Chef judges Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés. Seating is assigned by table number but the line to get in is still really long, so get there early. This is the most overwhelming event of the weekend food-wise. Each chef, amateur and professional, cooks at this event and there is every type of food station available that you can think of. Everything is served in a full portion size, everything is gourmet, you will want to try everything at least once, and the Moet flows the whole time. Come with an empty stomach! The host judges are up mingling with us during the brunch as well, so if you have not taken that selfie, here is your chance. Me and my girlfriends are major foodies, Top Chef fanatics and Anthony Bourdain groupies, so this festival was the perfect storm for us. Tickets to each event will sell out so purchase them now if you can. Here is the link : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cayman-cookout-2017-tickets-27393446536

In my post next Monday, I will discuss traveling abroad with my in-laws. I will be doing it for the first time in January! Have you traveled abroad with your in- laws? It will be my first time and their first time crossing the Atlantic. Lets talk about it!

Until next time. #LiveLoveTravel



It won’t take you more than 3 solid days to see Cuba if you do it right…

If you plan on just making a stop in Havana, your visit will be centered around visiting the four historic plaza’s in Old Havana, Ernest Hemingway’s House, buying rum and cigars and getting your requirements in for your people to people or educational visit. This will not take you more than a couple of days to do and you can use the third day to visit the beach. There honestly is not much else to do and see without venturing out to the other cities along the coast and for that, I would recommend taking a cruise.

Here is what you need to do to get everything done and save those extra vacation days for another trip to somewhere else…

Day 1: Walk through the four historic plazas in Old Havana and take photos with the locals. The locals that you will want to take photos with will be in traditional 1800’s Cuban attire and are employed by the government. They will show you their government I.D, and will ask you for $2 to $3 cuc’s (Cuban Pesos) in exchange for taking the picture.


The Havana Club (Rum museum) is in San Fransisco Square. Take a walk through there and enjoy a brief history on Rum in Cuba, have a Rum tasting and this is also the best place to buy your rum. My favorite is the Havana Rum number 7 and the Havana Club Ritual. The Havana Club 7 goes great with coke even though it is not meant to be mixed. The locals love Santiago Rum which is not meant to be mixed as well and is best with cigars. You can buy Santiago Rum for about $7 cuc’s at the Government Cigar stores. The Government Cigar stores are found in the squares and are the best place to buy your cigars even over the cigar factory because the government stores are regulated. The prices are not cheap but you are sure to get the best quality.

In that same area, go ahead and get all of your handmade souvenirs, artwork, t- shirts and whatnot at the Almacenes de Depósito San José, a giant arts and crafts market. The craft market is closed on Monday so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that you are working with cash only and you do not have access to an ATM and you can’t use your credit card. Most websites suggest that you take $100 per day. If you are anything like me and love to shop, take at least $200 per day. I had an all inclusive meal and lodging plan and used all of the money that I had. I bought art, handmade leather purses for me and my mom and sister, rum, cigars, linen clothing for my daughter. So many things were appealing and hard to just leave on the shelf. Set yourself a budget and stick to it. The American dollar does not go far with conversion rates of .87 to $1.00.

End the day with a good meal and enjoy the evening at the Tropicana Show or watching the traditional cannon blast.

Day 2: Start the morning by visiting Ernest Hemingway’s Home which has been turned into a museum that displays his library and holds his manuscripts. This site visit takes no longer than 30 minutes since you cannot go inside.

Next, fulfill your people to people or educational visit requirements. We spoke with a professor from the University for 90 minutes on many aspects of everyday life in the country, including the role of women in Cuban society, the trade embargo and how Obama has done so much but can’t do more because of bills that were signed back in the ’90’s that gave congress most of the power. We spoke about racism, the LGBT community, human and civil rights and the government’s role in them all, and why countries are afraid to invest their money into Cuba and cannot invest their money into Cuba. Cuba is so advanced in many aspects of society such as equal pay for women. The government provides a year paid maternity leave with full salary plus a year off after that with full pay, to take care of your child, they also offer paternity leave. Sounds great right? It’s the least they can do when you are a slave to the government and your salary is only $25 per month. The average Cuban family only has one child because they simply cannot afford to have more. Also, the National religion is not Catholicism, they just used it as a disguise to practice the Yoruba religion of their African ancestors. Racism is real and they struggle to keep their roots. Change comes from the top down and the bottom up. They are proud and strong people that are survivors. They acknowledge that they get their survivor spirit from their African ancestors and they honor them. This should be the main focus of your trip. 

End the evening at the Buena Vista Social Club where you can have dinner, drinks and enjoy entertainment by the Afro Latino All Stars.

Day 3: If you get a late flight out, you can do this all in 4 days, 3 nights solid. Day 3 will be your beach day. I will let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to ride two hours away to touristy Varadero to enjoy the white sand beaches and beautiful aqua blue water that Cuba has to offer. The locals enjoy beautiful Santa Maria Beach, about 20 minutes East of Havana. Save your money and most importantly your time. Hire a car for the day and after breakfast, have them take you straight to Santa Maria Beach. Lay out for a few ours, sip fresh coconut water and ride a few waves. Chair rentals are available once you get there. Your driver will stay with you. On your way back into town, stop by the home of revolutionist Che Guevara and take photos of the best panoramic views of Havana. Stop by the Plaza de Revolution for more photos and El Floridita for a daiquiri. If you time it right, you can get this all in and make it to the airport in time for a 6:30pm flight and be back in Miami by 7:30pm.

So, would I go back? Of course! We are already running low on rum and my husband has to see it for himself. I would not do Cuba the same way. Next time, we will fly into Havana and cruise to the other cities on the island. I am a fan of not having to worry about lodging and having all of my meals included. We will see what else Cuba has to offer and take advantage of tour guided excursions.

Here is a list of the entertainment and restaurants that we enjoyed.

Until next time next time! I will talk about my love for Anthony Bourdain and why you should get tickets to hang out with him at the Cayman Cookout in my next blog post.  #LiveLoveTravel



The Tropicana Club http://www.cabaret-tropicana.com/welcome.php?p=main&lang=en

Buena Vista Social club

The National Hotel Restaurant http://www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com

El Ajiaco: See TripAdvisor

El Ajibe http://www.lahabana.com/guide/el-aljibe/

Nazdarovie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwKTG7CfO78

Café del Oriente


Why Cuba could not wait…

When my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday back in August, I initially said that a day at the spa would be great. I had a trip planned to Mexico coming up on Labor Day weekend with my mom and sister and did not want to overdo it. But after hearing his response of “that’s all you want?” I quickly retracted my statement and expressed my desire to go to Cuba for several reasons.

With travel restrictions being lifted, making it easier for airlines to fly into Cuba daily, I new that there would be a mass influx of visitors to the island within the new year. This would mean overcrowding, low inventory for lodging, increased conversion rates and overall inflation on packages for group travel to the island. The time to go to Cuba was now.

I started doing my research and weighing the pro’s, cons and cost of DIY travel vs. group travel packages and quickly found out that choosing an all inclusive group travel package was the cheaper and safer route to take.

My theory was proven right when hurricane Matthew rolled in the exact weekend that I was scheduled to leave. As I was packing my suitcase, I received an email from the agency saying that our charter flight to Cuba from Miami was cancelled. No!!!!!!!! Besides the fact that I was taking this trip to celebrate my birthday, the only other dates that the agency had available for us to reschedule were in the Summer of 2017 (ain’t nobody got time for that, my itinerary is full). One thing that I also noticed about the 2017 rates from this same agency is that they went up by at least $1500 and they would have wanted us to pay the difference. Heck NO! So after a bunch of ranting and raving, emails and phone calls, we were able to get on the group tour and flight for the next weekend to Havana.

Here are a few things to remember when booking travel to Cuba even though cheap direct flights are available now.

1). You must have Cuban Medical Insurance and a Cuban Visa. Travel agencies take care of this step for you. When you purchase your own flight to Cuba, you are responsible for obtaining these two important documents and you won’t know if your travel documents have been granted until you check in for your flight, so please purchase travel insurance.

2). You cannot book a hotel in Havana without going through a travel agency. In order to have housing, you must be invited to stay with a host family or stay in an airbnb. There are only a few hotels in Havana that have been renovated and have 3 star ratings. The hotels are clean, modern and breakfast is included daily. When staying with a host family, rooms and restrooms are usually shared and breakfast is served family style.

3). If you plan on traveling without a group, hiring a tour guide and private car is highly recommended. Navigating through Havana’s streets can be tough since there are typically no street signs to indicate where you are and English is not a second language for the locals. You can hire a state issued taxi for $30 an hour that comes along with an english speaking tour guide to take you wherever you need to go for the day.

4). The dollar does not go far in Cuba with the current conversion rates and we cannot use our credit cards and ATM machines just yet. All of our meals and activities were included in our package so $150 to $200 per day was a good amount for us to have in cash each day for the purchase of cigars, rum, art, extra entertainment and tipping.

5). There are many websites and agencies that offer deals for you to travel to Cuba and some of them are very sketchy. You cannot go wrong with booking your all inclusive tour through American Express Travel. They will connect you with an agency to fit your individual needs and budget.

*Major Key Alert*

We had to check in for our charter flight four hours before departure and the ticket counter closes an hour and a half before the flight leaves for Havana. Ok cool. No problem. We will have plenty of time. Our flight leaves Miami at 2pm and we leave Atlanta at 7:30 am and land at 9:30am so we are straight. Our flight pushes back on time, we are next in line to take off and we get the dreaded announcement… “Folks, we have to taxi back and deplane. We are having a maintenance issue that will take a while to fix and we have to get you guys on a new aircraft.” No!!!!! Here we go again. I know there are more serious issues in the world, but this can’t be my life right now. The ticketing agent seriously stressed the fact that we needed to be there 3 hours before the flight leaves to check in and if we landed when we were supposed to, we would have enough time to eat breakfast, find our gate, check in and be good. So, I stressed for a minute but my God is able and they had a new plane for us to get on within 45 minutes.

When we arrived in Miami and found our check in counter, I realized again why Cuba could not wait. American tourist are not the only ones going to Cuba…Cubans are making the trip back home daily and they are going in droves. With cheaper, daily flights now available, this will only get worse. The line to check in for our charter flight was at least 2 hours long and each person had 6 pieces of luggage, 3 televisions, 2 bicycles and random power tools to check so that they could take back home to Cuba to sell. This is why we need to be here to check in 3-4 hour before the flight!!! There was a silver lining… We booked with a travel agency! We were pulled out of line and our passports were taken. The ticketing agent came back with our travel departure and return boarding passes, our Cuban tourist visa and Cuban medical insurance. The only downside was that I over packed my carryon and I had to stand in a separate line to pay for that and check it. i had to pay $50 cash but that covered me roundtrip.

Finally, off to beautiful Havana!!!



I have so much more to share about my experience in Cuba. There will be several blog post to follow that will include my recommendations on food, activities, entertainment and more. My next blog post will come next week on Monday and will show you how to do Havana in 3 days.

Here are the links to the resources that I spoke about.

American Express Travel: https://travel.americanexpress.com/travel/home

Travel Insurance Quotes: https://www.insuremytrip.com/quote-compare/index.html?quoteId=vbjntQ14saCW

Until next time… #LiveLoveTravel


I’m Back!

Welcome to my Travel blog! Some of you may not know that this is not my first rodeo on the blogging scene. I wrote an entertainment and lifestyle blog for an NYC based PR Firm back in 2011 before my business took off and got a little busy.

I have traveled abroad and domestically at my leisure and for work since 2005 and I have many stories to share. I was first introduced to international travel by my parents. They took me along with them on a missions trip to Germany and halfway through the trip, I hopped on a bus by myself and crossed the border into France. I spent the weekend exploring Paris on my own back when solo trips were not popular. I was 25 years old with a YOLO attitude and just could not be that close to the “City of Lights” without making a visit. That is when the travel bug hit!

I was recently inspired to start blogging again after my trip to Cuba, and this time, create a blog for myself.

When I first started traveling on a more consistent basis and internationally, I was 25 years old, single and working full time as contract travel Occupational Therapist. I met my husband of almost ten years along the way and he said that one of the things that attracted me to him was my love for travel. He got himself a passport and we have continued to see the world since then, kids and all!

I was encouraged to start blogging about my travels by my husband and one of my good friends and fellow entrepreneurs, Shondra Glover, owner of Tees on the spot. When I got back home from Cuba and started to post a few of my photos, my inbox started filling up with questions about my experience. Stay tuned for my next post “Why Cuba could not wait”. I will break my experience down into serval post and give advice on places to eat, entertainment, safety and best practices on the island.

I hope that you will join me on the journey to live, love and travel as much as you can!