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Trip Report Solo trip to Jamaica

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I just got in last night from my 4 nights and 5 days in Jamaica and fell in love! I arrived on Monday morning at 8:30 expecting to have to stow my luggage and use the facilities but was in for two nice surpises. First I was upgraded from Beach to Suites. Second, they had a room ready and waiting. The greeting by the staff was very warm and everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome and let me know that they were there for anything needed. I found that no matter where I went in Jamaica. The hotel was gorgeous. From the beautiful lobby with an amazing double staircase going down to the exit for the pool and beach, to just the amazing views sitting in the lobby or on the lobby balconies I was in love as soon as I walked inside.
My room was a large room with a king size bed. There was a separate step down area that had a couch and a desk which led out to the balcony that while it wasn't an ocean view room, had a view. Whether during the day or night, the view was amazing and I never tired of going out to look out. The bathroom was huge. The tub was separate from the stand up shower which was nice because I took a nice luxurious bath every day.
The down side was the food. It was just ok. I'm not a big foodie on vacations unless its a place known for its restaurants but still felt that the restaurants could have had more of a Jamaican flair. Overall, there was always something to eat that was tasty, but nothing really thrilling. Admittedly I didn't bother with the specialty restaurants as I did not want to be on any sort of tiime schedule. I did order room service a few nights and the fish delivered was very good.
My outing in Montego Bay was to the Hip Strip. I wasn't very impressed. The craft marked felt like I was getting mugged and I was very uncomfortable with how aggressive the women there were. They did take no for an answer but it was very difficult and there was always another one waiting. They grabbed me and pulled me into their rooms filled with crafts while blocking my exit in hopes I'd buy something. I tried to get out as quickly as possible. I wasn't worried about safety but was uncomfortable with being groped and passed from person to person. The two things I did buy were honestly because the person wouldn't let go of my hand and I wanted to leave. I was annoyed with the tour operator for not warning about this because she laughed when I got back on the bus and asked jokingly how much they got me to buy. We also went down to where Margeritaville was for more shopping. I did want to try Margeruites but it wasn't going to be open untl later on. I don't mean to disparage the Jamaican people because they were all very warm. I just wasn't prepared for the aggressiveness of the craft market.
I also took a day trip to Negril. First was a few hours on 7 mile beach. Admittedly I was sorry that I stayed in Montego Bay and not Negril once I saw the beach. The beach at my hotel was beautiful but 7 mile beach was amazing!! Again, getting to the water was a little difficult with all of the vendors. Still they took no for an answer and walked on. In the water however, one wouldn't leave me alone and I finally had to tell him to go away. I didn't want to be rude but he wasn't taking no for an answer and kept grabbing me. The others I laughed about. I was offered a "smoke," "my first Jamaican man," and just about everything else that could be sold. It would have been funny if I didn't feel bad for them because they truly do make their living this way and I knew that they were offering their services for money so I did end up giving a few tips to them. My only disappointment was that the chicken patty guy came by on his bike but he was out of chicken patties! And I'm not kidding, I was really looking forward to trying one.
After the beach we went shopping which again seemed to be more of the same stuff. I picked up a few t-shirts, a pair of sunglasses, and some crafty stuff. Next was Rick's Cafe. It lived up to its reputation. It had beautiful views. It had rained that day and was cloudy so the sunset was not as spectacular as usual which was hard to believe because what I saw was still sensational. If that was the sunset on a bad day I couldn't imagine what it was like on a good one. I watched some of the people jump off the cliffs and wished I could work up my nerve but didn't think it was the best idea with my bad back, lol!! It looked like great fun. On the other side there was a rope that people were swinging into the water from only not as high as the cliff jump. Negril was a very beautiful place with more of a laid back island feel than Montego Bay. Next time I go to Jamaica, that will be my destination.
Finally, we made our way back to Montego Bay. We left Negril around 7:30 pm. All I can say is that driving in Jamaica feels a lot like playing chicken. The driver laughed and told me not to look and to just trust him. It was hard but I followed his advice and happily made it back to my hotel in one piece. The bellman was waiting when I got back and seemed genuinely thrilled that I had such a good day. The people of Jamaica were such warm people and I got the feeling that they did want visitors to love Jamaica in the same way that they did. That was genuine and not because they wanted to sell me something or because they wanted a tip. It was a warmth that added to the beauty of the island.
I would recommend the Iberostar in Montego Bay. The lay out was very nice. It was large but had a small feel due to the friendliness of the staff. Nothing seemed like too far of a walk or out of the way. Going from the restaurant or the lobby to the pool was close. The pool overlooked the ocean. I think its called an infiniti pool but I'm not sure. I alternated between laying on a lounge chair in the ocean to going to the pool ordering a drink and hanging on the wall facing the ocean. It was the most relaxed I've been in a long time and it helped that everyone seemed to be waiting to see what they could do to make my visit as enjoyable as possible. When it came time to leave I literally stayed in the pool until ten minutes before my taxi came to take me to the airport. I didn't care about going to the airport in a bathing suit and cover up because I wanted to soak up all I could while there. I will definitely go back to Jamaica. If I took my kids, I'd stay in Montego Bay just for the ease of having everything at my fingertips and never having to leave the resort. For a solo trip, it will be the laid back warmth of Negril.

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