Kris and Orsi got married in Jamaica. Since we weren’t there for their wedding, we obviously had to go for their 10th anniversary. They were there for a couple weeks in February, and we joined them toward the end of their stay, only overlapping by a couple days.
We had a 3.5 hour drive to Miami and a 1 hour flight to Montego Bay, since we can’t fly direct from Key West. It’s worth it.
Peela, one of their friends from Negril, met us at the airport with his cab. On the way out of town, he mentioned that weed was now legal in small quantities in Jamaica. It was hilarious to see him smoking and waving at cops along the way.
Speaking of which, the usual spirit license signs had a new counterpart: the ganja license sign!
He dropped us off at Samsara and we checked in. Our room was across the road on the garden side, which we’d never actually visited before. It was really pretty, and quieter than the cliffs side. We had a big cottage with a nice patio to ourselves. (I would highly recommend the garden side, plus it’s cheaper.)
We found Kris, Orsi, Thomas, Melissa, and the kids (four of them) cliff-jumping before sunset. We had good timing!
We watched sunset, then walked over to No Limit. There was a new cook there with a grill in the parking lot, and Kris had asked him to make ital (vegan) pumpkin soup in addition to the usual chicken soup, which meant I could eat there too. The soup was amazing, and had huge dumplings in it.
We sat outside the bar for a few hours talking, and then it was time to head back to our rooms.
Here’s the view from our patio the next morning. I made coffee and sat out there reading. It was funny how familiar all the foliage seemed to me this time; we have many of the same plants in the yard now. Not as exotic-seeming, but every bit as attractive as always.
The temperatures in Jamaica and Key West were the same in February, in the high 70s, but it felt warmer there. The sun is more direct, and it’s more humid.
We met everyone and climbed on the shuttle down to Legends on the beach. Here’s Kris and Orsi, who seem to still like each other even after ten years!
We spent the usual amount of time at Yellow Bird (a lot), having dirty bananas. The kids were happy to spend time at the cake lady’s stand.
We had lunch at Kuyaba, and then a few of us went for a beach walk all the way down to Tony’s, which is down toward the other end where the big resorts start. Our names were still on the wall from last time, but we needed a new entry with updated information:
Then it was time to head back and get ready for dinner, so we walked back to Legends, where everyone else was waiting to get on a glass-bottom boat to ride back up to the cliffs. It looked like a storm was rolling in as we left the beach.
We did some sightseeing along the way, and then they dropped us off at the hotel. I am still not at all a fan of jumping off a rocking boat, especially onto a narrow rock platform on these cliffs.
The rainbow was pretty awesome, though, plus the rain missed us.
We changed and got a cab to Just Natural for dinner. I love that place.
After dinner, we did the usual hanging-out at No Limit, then went back to the hotel to fly paper lanterns over the ocean.
The next morning, it was already time for the rest of the group to head back to Minnesota. Matt and I had a good laugh over the idea of going back to Minnesota in February (how soon we forget). We said bye to everyone and then walked down the road to Canoe Bar for breakfast. Their coffee was amazing.
After breakfast we decided to head down to town to do some grocery shopping at Hi Lo. Along the way we met Chicken King, who was awesome. So was his decor:
We ended up going to the new green supermarket instead of Hi Lo, since that was new since our last visit. It was pretty much the same thing. We got Blue Mountain coffee to bring home, some spices and hot sauces that we needed, and snacks for the hotel. Then we headed back up toward Samsara, making a beer stop with Chicken King along the way.
We spend the afternoon in the pool and reading books along the cliffs. One of the very appealing things about Negril is there’s not that much to do there; you’re forced to actually relax.
In the evening, we walked over to Pushcart for dinner. We’ve been to the Rockhouse on every trip to Negril so far, and we weren’t going to mess up that tradition. Their food is amazing, and so is their decor. (Also, we’ve been to a couple of the restaurants owned by the same people in New York, like Miss Lily’s. They’re great.)
This is the most true statement:
After dinner, we walked over to the bar at Rockhouse for a drink, then headed back to the hotel to hang out on our patio and play cards before bedtime.
The next morning, it was already time to leave Samsara. We rolled our bags to the lobby and took the shuttle to Legends, where we were spending the rest of our stay. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we left our bags in the lobby and went to sit on the beach.
I bought a bottle of ginger-pineapple juice from a guy passing by. It was amazing.
We sat there reading for a while, then went to get our room. It was also on the garden side, but this time in a pretty large hotel complex. We had a nice room with a balcony, and we could see the pool from there. We decided to go have a swim.
Turns out the pool in the shade is NOT as warm as the ocean. It took a long time to get used to it, but I managed to spend some time in there before I lost feeling in my limbs. There was a family of feral cats running around too, and the babies climbing on everything were adorable.
We showered and headed out for a walk on the beach. With a stop at Yellow Bird, of course. They have a good view.
Here’s an awesome mural on the side of the building that used to be 23/7’s kitchen. I can’t believe that spot is still empty!
We had a late lunch at Roots Bamboo, then decided to try Woodstock, a new place that had sprung up since our last visit. It was a really large property with a big stage, and they advertised two-for-one rum punches for happy hour. What’s not to like?
Their sunset view was pretty good, too!
We ended up spending a very long time there (as happens in Negril), but unfortunately there was nothing on the menu I could eat. However, there was a little rasta shack nearby. This meal was incredible.
The next day, the ocean was rough. Probably the roughest we’ve seen it on a non-stormy day. It was kind of hilarious watching people fight the waves.
We stuck to our beach chairs, reading and lounging.
Round about lunchtime, we went for a walk down toward the other end of the beach, and found a little patty shop along the way. We got patties and Red Stripe and brought them back to Legends’ beach for further chillin’.
After a good long time in our beach chairs, we changed and went for another walk down the beach. We ended up at Tony’s again (waaay down the beach), where we ran into a couple from Wisconsin. We ended up talking to them for a long time. (They had fond memories of 23/7, which made me like them a lot.) They recommended Chance’s for dinner because they had the best pizza in Negril; we liked the sound of that, so ended up heading down there after a while. We were sitting there waiting for dinner when the couple showed up, clearly influenced by their own recommendation. They were right – it was really great pizza.
We then walked all the way back down to Bourbon Beach for their show. It was mostly concert footage shown on a giant screen, followed by a band. I liked having the option of both, really.
The next morning, we got a cab to take us up to Just Natural for brunch. It wasn’t so much that we love the place (we do, but we’d already been there), more that Kris is dumb and had left something he’d worked years to acquire there when we’d had dinner. We told him we’d go back and get it for him.
There was no threat of rain this time, so we sat out in the jungle. Bally bellied up to the bar.
And here’s a reminder of the outdoor restrooms there. I LOVE THIS PLACE.
Our cab driver showed up right on time after breakfast, and we asked him to drop us off at Rockhouse, which was about half of the way back to the roundabout. We wanted to hit up their shop, because we figured they would have awesome stuff.
And they did, including this new Ting tshirt I bought for myself.
By then it was afternoon, so it was OK to have a cocktail. The bartenders working were the absolute best, and they were really entertaining. Especially when singing and dancing to Drake.
Also, there’s this view:
The bartenders found out that it was Matt’s birthday the next day, so insisted that he have a flaming shot. Well, we both did. You can’t really tell that this is on fire, but it is. You drink it with a straw, which hearkened back to that one time Wendy did so and lit the cruise ship bar on fire.
We headed back down the road after a couple drinks, walking back past Samsara. We decided to get lunch at the German bar, which also had pizza. Shut up, it’s really good pizza!
From there, we hailed another cab. When it pulled up there were already two women and the drive inside, and we realized it was a route taxi. Which was fine, because that’s way cheaper than a regular cab. We asked the driver to take us to Time Square, right next to our hotel. She dropped us off there and we went to use the ATM before going to our room to drop off our Rockhouse purchases.
After a while, we headed back up the beach to Tony’s. It’s such an entertaining little place.
The bartender, Princess, had everyone playing games. We played this one, which involved stacking disks on top of tippy pieces.
After a while we switched to Shut the Box, which I’ve decided is my new favorite bar game. It drives me crazy.
We hung out for sunset, then decided to go get dinner.
I really wanted to go back to the rasta place on our last night, but it turns out they were closed. We decided on Alfred’s Ocean Palace instead, which had an excellent vegetarian crepe. Matt swears we’ve never been there before, but we definitely had lunch there on our first trip to Negril.
We made one last top at Woodstock, and then it was time to go pack up for the trip home.
The next morning, we had breakfast a few doors down from the hotel, then went to check out and get the shuttle to the airport. We only made one stop along the way, and our driver made quick work of the drive (which is kind of nervewracking in a huge van). We had a good flight home, and spent the evening in Miami celebrating Matt’s birthday before heading home to Key West on Sunday!