16.11.14 - Well after around 44 hours of travelling (24 hours on bus from Cusco to Lima, 11 hour wait at Lima airport, 9 hours flight, passport control and cab to hotel) I finally arrived at The Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami! Wow! What a beautiful place! It was 8am and the Bellboy was immediately there to open the cab door, welcomed me by name (welcome to the Betsy Miss Shield!), took luggage from the trunk (boot to you and me!) and walked me to the front desk (reception). Jose greeted me and it was very obvious that everyone was expecting me! Super! They had been full the night before, so my room hadn't been vacated yet, and Jose explained that he was going to try and upgrade me to a suite.....wow! super! I asked him to be completely honest and to ensure I had a fab, quiet room, even if that meant not getting the upgrade, he duly agreed....Thomas kindly stored my luggage in the interim and I made my way to the rooftop deck......I found a shaded corner on a gorgeous day bed with a beautiful view looking over the palm trees to South Beach. It was a beautiful morning, warm sunshine, blue skies, and being a Sunday, that lovely quietness only a Sunday morning can bring.....Jana was tending the rooftop bar that morning, and she very kindly presented me with a glass of Prosecco! Superb! I was definitely in luxury and knew I was going to enjoy my time here.....feeling satisfied and so happy I had finally got here safely, I lay back and duly fell into a deep sleep with a lovely breeze stroking my skin....bliss!...I didn't stir until about midday! Jana popped her head round and asked if I was ok, she said she had been checking on me, but I had been fast asleep....we chatted for a bit then she brought me another glass of Prosecco. I asked her about the spa at the hotel and she arranged for Roxy from the spa to come and have a chat with me....I decided to book an 'Inca' treatment (how apt!) for the following morning at 11am.....I relaxed some more and then around 2pm Jana came to tell me that my room was ready....Thomas showed me to my room and brought my luggage...he opened the door to room 233 and I could tell immediately that it wasn't a suite, I was a little disappointed but Jose had done exactly as I had asked and given me a gorgeous room which overlooked the pool and was extremely quiet, the peaceful haven I well and truly needed, thank you Jose! Mwah!....I had a good look around my room and bathroom, taking everything in, which included a TV in the mirror in the bathroom!, unpacked then got straight into the gorgeous walk in shower....this was just heaven, after weeks of taking showers where the shower heads had seen better days!....I must have stood under there for about half an hour! I endulged in all the products that were in the bathroom, ending with a gorgeous body lotion....I then sank into my bed and watched TV for a bit, but it wasn't long before I was back in the land of nod zzzzzzzzzz.......
17.11.14 - I woke up early and decided to get myself up to the rooftop deck for sunrise (Thomas had mentioned this the day before) and I wasn't disappointed! Just beautiful! I decided to walk over to the beach and watch it there too.....a band were doing a photo shoot (well either a band or models for a clothes range or something), but I didn't recognise them. I took some photos incase one day I recognised an album cover lol!...I sat on the sand for a bit and let the waves lap my toes, then I realised the tide was bringing in lots of jellyfish so scarpered back up the beach before I got stung lol!...I then wandered lazily back to the Betsy for breakfast....wow! what a breakfast! Fresh orange juice, iced water, tea, fresh fruit, bacon, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried potatoes, toast.....it was just yum! and to top it off I was sat outside with the warmth on my skin and the dulcit tones of Tony Bennett permeating the air! Perfect!....after breakfast I relaxed in my room for a while then at 11am I headed to the rooftop deck for my 'Inca' treatment!....the rooftop deck is a lovely area to relax and secluded in one corner is The Betsy Wellness Garden and Spa, which embraces the idea that a spa visit goes beyond luxury or indulgence to a healing experience....on arrival I was treated to their signature welcome of a raw earth foot-bath, where minerals of malachite, sandalwood and calendula oils soothed and softened my feet, and an infusion of lavender, grapefruit and peppermint oils whisked my senses to far off lands. Then I was led to my private open air 'room' with it's 'walls' of heavy drapes which wafted in the warm breeze, it was just heavenly, I was left to undress and get myself comfortable face down on the bed....the 'Inca' treatment consisted of a full body Peruvian coco scrub followed by a massage with Peruvian Inchi Oil, then an aromatherapy facial and scalp massage....when she had finished she left me and I couldn't stir for about half an hour, then I thought I had better move, so I wrapped myself in the provided white fluffy robe and wandered out to the deck area.....they said I could sit in the zen garden as long as I wanted to, which I did for about an hour, I drank loads of water, then headed for a shady corner of the rooftop deck, lay down and fell fast asleep until 5pm!....when I woke Thomas was on the late bar shift on the rooftop deck and duly came over to check I was ok and got me a glass of Prosecco! I felt truly blessed!...I made my way back to room, feeling so happy and decided to get dressed for dinner....I went to the lobby bar for my complimentary cocktail, where I met Rachel Barowsky, a very stylish lady who tended the bar superbly! She recommended a cocktail called 'Miami Heat' which was just delicious! I asked if she had a menu for the restaurant and she said yes and that if I wanted to I could dine at the bar....she recommended the tuna tartare dish, which was absolutely gorgeous and I really enjoyed her company. We were joined by Jimmy, an Italian, who imported Italian wood for furniture and Bennett who was an architect and was in town working on the new shopping mall....we had a ball that night...the conversation flowed, we laughed and laughed, we consumed many cocktails, and ended up on the rooftop deck at 10pm with a bottle of red wine....two men dressed up in dinner suits joined us, turned out they had been to a function and they worked for Nascar, also met a lady who worked for Phil Collins!...not sure what time I made it back to my room, but needless to say the following day was written off with a big hangover! (I did get up for my gorgeous breakfast though, but ended up going back to bed).....around 7pm I was ready for food, so I ordered 2 dishes from the room service menu, lovely!
19.11.14 - weather today not so good, drizzle and alot cooler.....decided to go 'downtown' and do the 3 hop on hop off bus tours (beach loop, city loop and uptown loop) and the boat tour......it drizzled all day! but I still managed to persevere and sit on the open top deck (well until later on in the day, when the rain got heavier and I had to admit defeat!) These tours were really good, got to see so much of Miami and got my bearings...went through Coconut Grove and Little Havana and saw lots of celebrity houses...I ended up being the only person on the boat tour, so had a laugh with the staff and received a private tour that people pay alot of money for!....by the time I got back to The Betsy I was cold and damp, so I jumped straight in to my lovely hot shower and then got ready for dinner.....I ate in the restaurant this time, and Rachel was working in there that night instead of the lobby bar, so that was lovely, she said we had been having such a fun time the other night and that she had been jealous and wanted to be on the other side of the bar with us! I asked her if she had seen Jimmy and Bennett, she hadn't, but she said that Bennett would be there for a while because of his work, so I asked her to pass on my regards....I wish I had got Jimmy and Bennett's contact details, never mind, we were all too tipsy that night! After dinner I had another complimentary 'Miami Heat' cocktail in the lobby bar, where we were treated to an evening of Jazz....the two male musicians were fab! a pianist and a saxophonist, the music suited the hotels vibe perfectly! and I thoroughly enjoyed what was my last night.....
20.11.14 - savoured my last breakfast, then returned to my room to pack, humph!...I was kindly allowed to keep my room until 1pm....Thomas stored my luggage and I spent my last few hours wandering on the beach, along Ocean Drive (saw Versace's house and the front steps where he was murdered and also the Carlyle Hotel which had been used for the film 'The Birdcage' which had a funny picture of Robin Williams in it's window), and finished with one last cocktail with Rachel in the lobby bar. I said my farewells to as many of the staff as I could, including Paul the concierge, who had been absolutely right! On my first day, I had sat with him and chatted about doing some trips, to the Florida Keys, Everglades, etc.....he had said then, that if I was having my Inca treatment on Monday that I would end up just relaxing and 'kicking back', and boy did that turn out to be true! Oh well, I will just have to return one day.....Thomas got me a cab at 5.30pm and off I went to the airport. I was soooo sad to be leaving such a fab place and lovely people, but at the same time I was really looking forward to getting home and seeing everyone!....I got to the airport safely (which was a wonder, as the cab driver obviously thought he was in a F1 race!) and went to check in. Access to the check in desks were roped off, I asked if I could go through, as there wasn't a queue, to be told I had to check myself in and go to the bag drop area. I said I didn't want to do this as it was plainly clear that there were manned manual check in desks and I wojuld prefer to deal with a human being, but he was having none of it, so off I went to a computer point......after 3 attempts the computer still said 'no', so I ended up going back and 'face like a bulldog chewing a wasp' having to let me through to a manual check in desk after all!.....got through security with no hassles and mooched around the shops, then had a drink, until my flight at 9pm....RESULT! managed to get seated where no one sat next to me on one side, so I moved along, put the armrests up and stretched out! Met a lady from Scotland who worked for a government department sorting out peace treaties, etc....very interesting....dinner was ok, did the nodding donkey to a film, so ended up getting as comfortable as I could and dozing for the rest of the flight....
21.11.14 - Welcome to Heathrow! Welcome!, welcome?? Grey, miserable, grey, grey and more grey, humph! I still had my white linen trousers and flip flops on and I was not going to get changed!....got my luggage, sailed through border control (the automatic gate one, as I have that symbol thingy on my passport!) and made my way to the bus terminal....waited about hour and a half, then got the 12.15pm National Express coach to Coventry....slept most of the way.....text Siobhan when we got to Warwick Parkway so she could come and get me from Pool Meadow.....as we got on to the Ring Road I felt a lovely feeling of 'home'....was sooooo excited to see Siobhan and get big hugs and when I opened the car door, she had been true to her word, there on the seat was a hot water bottle and some fluffy socks! LMAO! Brilliant!.....by now my stomach was flippin' over with excitement at seeing my Mumfie!.....we pulled up at my house, there were welcome home banners over the windows and front door...Siobhan went to get my bags and I rushed in to find my Mum walking down the stairs towards me! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa, I thought she was going to burst! It was soooooo lovely! Such a fab fab warm homecoming.....Vera was there as well, taking photos.....we had Prosecco, chatted, then sat down to a lovely warm meal of Mum's homemade cottage pie, then trifle, then cream cakes and tea.....I was soooo pleased to be home and knew I was beaming from ear to ear.....everyone left about 5/6pm.....this was then weird....quiet, on my own, back in my housie....I unpacked, put some washing on and settled in for the night....I reflected on what a blessed, fantastic trip I had just had...meeting many beautiful people and experiencing so many wonderful things.....life is truly an adventure and my memories will keep me warm forever!