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Hotel 52 

This weekend, I took a mini vacation with one of my friends.  We decided that a few days in Playa del Carmen was just what the doctor ordered.  We made a great choice.  Hotel 52 was part of why it was so great.


Hotel 52 is a new hotel (like seriously new… it hasn’t even been open for two months) located on Calle 52, just off the famous “5 Avenida,” which is home to tons of clubs, shops, bars & restaurants.  The hotel’s location is in an area that is currently under development, but we absolutely loved staying there.  

Hotel 52 is bright and modern.  The staff is great – from Alexis & Humberto, at the front desk, to Sergio, who pretty much can help you with anything you need to make your stay more comfortable.  We felt so at home. 



The shower worked great, the beds were extremely comfortable & we had our own balcony.  We opted for their most economic version, a single room with two queen beds.  But, the hotel also offers junior & master suites. 

The price can’t be beat & I highly recommend that you book your next stay here.



*Note: Hotel 52 currently has a 3 star rating.  The hotel is still being fine-tuned. The restaurant is still building their menu & does not serve liquor. But, there’s an Oxxo (Mexican convenience store- think 711 or wawa) a couple blocks away and the staff will provide you with an ice chest to keep your beer cold, or they’ll make fresh-squeezed orange juice for you to enjoy your own champagne mimosas on the rooftop… and what a rooftop it is! 


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Love Albany 

I spent Valentine’s Day with one of my many loves… (making) money.  I worked.  I ended up in Albany, NY and had a full 24 hours to catch up on some sleep & explore a little.  

Before this trip, I was not aware that Albany is the Capital City of New York.  So, when my hotel concierge told me that we were near the Capitol building, I knew I wanted to get out and walk around a bit, even if it was 30 degrees. 

By the time I got settled in, ate & changed, I had about an hour before sunset.  So, I stepped out to walked around the cute, quaint area.  
I was stunned by the State’s Capitol and I spent some time seeing it from every angle.  

Near the Capitol, I noticed a unique building, which I later found out is a theatre, called The Egg.  


There was a large ice skating rink near by & I could hear music playing.  I imagined quite a few skaters were couples, celebrating Qupid’s day.  

After a little bit of exploring, my hands were so cold that my phone wasn’t even responding to my touch.  (I forgot to pack gloves).  So, I decided to pop back into my hotel room to warm up.  That’s when Twilight started playing on TV, and I had to decide between a single gal’s Vday with a movie & wine, or an evening meeting locals.  This is usually an easy decision, but today, it took a little work… 

Considering my long layover – and words my cousin, Johnny, shared with me recently – “Come on, fool.  Go out.  You know you never have a hard time making friends.”  I went to to a local beer hall.  

City Beer Hall was busy, but still had room at the bar.  Perfect.  I took a seat & the lovely bartender, Beth Anne, came my aide.  She helped me pick a local IPA & left a food menu for me.  

When my beer arrived, it came with a raffle ticket.  The ticket was redeemable in the kitchen, for a personal-sized pizza.   This was not a Valentine’s Day special.  They do this everyday, folks! 

After meeting a few locals, tossing back a few local brews, and nibbling on free pizza, I was informed by a gentleman named Steve, of a speakeasy that was located right downstairs.  You have to  exit the beer hall, knock  on the door, and hope they let you in. We got lucky. 

They had a live jazz band, dim, romantic lighting, snazzy dressers, and a busy dance floor.  Steve ordered us some drinks.  One was served with a single, globe-shaped ice cube & set on fire.  Cheers! 

There had been dance lessons earlier in the night & the instructors were still there, pulling people to the dance floor.  There were guys dancing with girls, girls dancing with girls, and guys dancing with guys.  I got spun around a few times, which, those who know me, know that that’s all I need.

I made friends with the bartenders & host and I promised I’d be back again.  Then, I spent my morning resting in my warm, comfy bed, as I watched fresh snow fall.  Albany surprised me.  I really enjoyed my time there.  Thank you, upstate New York. 

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Celebrating The Queen

I called this post “Celebrating The Queen,” because I spent Mother’s Day weekend with my mom at the Second Annual, Fiesta de la Flor – a festival celebrating the life of Selena Quintanilla Perez.

In so many ways, this festival ties my all worlds together. Attending the event meant incorporating flying, driving, dancing, music, singing, my mom, family, Selena costumes, red lips, eyeliner, waterfronts, blue skies, beauty, Latinos, love & history. It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. 

 You see, when I was a little girl, my Mexican parents thought it would be best to have “Americanized” children. No Spanish, no accent, just perfect English. This would avoid all the ridicule they endured growing up. I’ve talked a little bit about this in a previous post

Anyway, when I was a young girl, my (Mexican-Amercican) mom had this Spanish cassette that she would listen to on repeat. The melodies were intriguing & the sultry, raspy voice called to me. When I first heard Selena’s Entre A Mi Mundo, it was love as first note. The album included an English track called “Missing My Baby,” which was reminiscent of the Golden Oldies you’d hear on Sunday nights, on the Art Laboe show. I was impressed that this “Mexican” singer knew English. When my mom explained to me that Selena was Mexican-American, like us, and that she only learned Spanish through her music, she instantly (along with Mariah Carey) became my idol.     

Little did I know that I’d only get to enjoy Selena as a living artist for a few short years. When I was in sixth grade, my mom picked me up from school on Friday,  March 31, 1995, with tears in her eyes. She told me that Selena had been shot & killed earlier that day. I remember crying myself to sleep that night. 

After losing such an icon in my life, the only thing I could do was try keep her alive in my world, in my own way.  Everyday after school, I’d come home & spend hours upon hours with her CDs on repeat, singing and dancing in my room. I was silly enough to think my family couldn’t hear me.  

About six months later, after hearing me practice so avidly, my mom asked me to sing at my dad’s birthday party. Nervous to sing in Spanish, in front of a Mexican crowd with a full Mariachi band, I initially declined. Then, she offered me to pay me & I jumped up and grabbed the microphone. I sang Tú Sólo Tú, trying as hard as I could to mimic Selena’s cover from her last studio album, “Dreaming of You,” which was released after her passing. 

The crowd seemed pleased & very surprised… and, I was hooked. It was hard to keep me from singing at parties after that. 

After 21 years of imitating, impersonating & cultivating my own version of a Selena-inspired woman, I finally got to visit her home town of Corpus Christi.  The best part was that I got to take my mom, the woman who introduced me to this artist, who continues to influence my life even over two decades after her death.  I was beyond excited.  

The entire trip was a roller coaster ride.  Excitement, sadness, heartbreak, love, anger… Those were all a part of the emotional weekend.  


Our weekend started with a dash to the festival.  After two flights & a road trip from San Antonio, we made it to Corpus Christi in time to catch Pete Astudillo.  My mom and I both cried when he performed “Como Te Extraño,” a cumbia he wrote for Selena.  It was such a precious moment. 
The night ended on a happy note with the Legend, “El Rey de la Acordeón,” Ramón Ayala.”  Every Mexican family plays his classics at any given gathering.  His music is a staple in our culture. 


The next day, we mapped out some stops around Corpus Christi.  We wanted to see everything from where Selena lived, to where she was laid to rest.  Here’s how our day went: 

We (along with some other festival goers) started our day with a visit to Selena’s gravesite.



Our next stop was was Selena & Chris’s house. They actually lived next door to Abraham & Marcela Quintanilla (Selena’s parents). On the other side of their house (not photographed) was A.B. Quintanilla’s house – Selena’s brother/producer/bandmate.

The most chilling stop we made all day was to the (former) Days Inn, room 158 (now Knight’s Inn, room 150), where Selena was brutally murdered by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar.

We met the guest staying in the room & he was nice enough to let us in to look around. It was definitely a heavy & eerie experience . I mean, this was the actual spot where Selena was shot! It was heartbreaking.


The hallway where Selena ran to look for help to save her life…


Next, was the Selena Museum. It’s also the location for Q Productions, Selena’s recording studio. The museum was closed, but we got a few pics outside.

My mom made me do this…

 

Our last stop, before Day 2 at the festival, was the Selena Memorial & statue.

After the emotional tour, we hit the festival for a bit & enjoyed the perfect weather, good music, and all the Selena costumes. It was such a beautiful day. 

I loved this girl’s costume! We chatted for a bit & discovered that we have same birthday, October 25.

The closest I got to Chris Perez during his meet & greet. The line was about 3hours…


Taking a page from the Selena movie & doing “The Washing Machine,” with my mom.

We turned in early, in order to get a good night’s sleep and to prepare for our day of travel.  In the morning, we thought we’d stop by the Selena Museum to check if it was as open. It was! 

After paying the small $3 entrance, we were lead into Selena’s recording studio. This was the actual room where she recorded the music that I still listen today; the same room you see Jennifer Lopez depicting the recording of “I Could Fall in Love,” in the movie. I was more than excited! 


After a short introduction & a mintute for photo ops, we were free to look around the Museum. The family has preserved & displayed Selena’s many awards, photos of the singer, some of her personal items, including jewelry, an old cell phone and her famous red Porsche. The main displays, and the center focus, are some of Selena’s iconic outfits.  To see the pieces up close and personal, is very moving.  Each display case contains a photo of the singer in that particular outfit.  Being that close to the actual clothes that she wore & designed touched my heart. It made me feel close to her & that the same time, I was reminded of how she stolen from us way too soon.

The oh-so famous Purple outfit from Selena’s last concert…



One of the most moving displays in the museum – a lipstick stained microphone…

I noticed that a lot of the things she wore didn’t look expensive or extravagant in those display cases.  A lot of the pieces had obviously been bedazzled by the singer herself.  You can see traces of glue from the hot glue gun under some of the jewels that made her belts & bra tops sparkle.  Some of the pieces looked worn & used, but man, when she wore them, she looked like a million bucks! 




After spending time in Corpus Christi, it became so clear to me that Selena really was just a small town girl, with a simple life.  She was just human, like me and you. She loved to be close to her family & she loved to sing.  She was innovative and driven and she would have done so many more great things, if she had been given the chance at a longer life.  

Standing in front of the “Selena” lights from the Last Concert, filmed at the Houston Astrodome on February 26, 1995.

I think one of the greatest things Selena (or her tragic death) did for me, was bring me to ask myself, “When I’m gone, what will people say about me? How will I be remembered?” 

It made me realize that in this life, there are so many people who I will cross paths with. Some people will be in my life for a long time, and others, for just a brief moment, but either way, whether they’re around for many moments, or for just one, those “moments” will be the only thing they ever know of me; the only experiences they’ll ever have… So, I might as well make them good! 

Forever…

Thank you for reading along.  I really hope you enjoyed this post.  Feel free to share any of your Selena stories in the comments.  

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Dublin Double Take 

In my travels, one of the cities that most surprised me was Dublin, Ireland.   My first time there was a year & a half ago,  in the late summer of 2014.  I was there for work and had one day to squeeze in as much as possible.  

I loved how my day went so much, that when I returned a few weeks later, I invited my friend, Jamie, along and we kind of re-lived my first visit there.  Sure, the days weren’t identical, but it was cool to do a “double take” of Dublin… 

Both days started with a hike in Howth, a beautiful port city that made me feel right at home.  The trail takes you along the water, through beautiful neighborhoods and rolling hills of green that remind me of Irish Spring soap commercials I saw on tv as a little girl.  

Our train stop from the city to Howth.

Day 1 had a little carnival.

 

Day 2 had a local, Farmer’s Market…

  

with lots of free samples!


  
 

Day 1, with my crew member, Dan.


 

Day 2, with my crew members/friends, Jamie & Carolyn.

    *You might remember Carolyn from my Barcelona post.  2014 was her last year flying & this was actually her last trip before retirement. 

    
  

Day 1 fellow hikers


 

Day 2 fellow hikers


 

  

When I’m traveling, there are so many times I pass cool houses & I want to knock on the door and ask the residents if I can hang out with them for the day… This was one of those houses… I loved this view on Day 1.

 

I loved it on Day 2, too!

 
      

     

Day 1


 

Day 2

   

        

Day 1


 

Day 2

  
  

     

  

  

“Killa Villa”

   

Day 1

  

Day 2

 
     

After the climb up the mountain, we found a cute little pub.  It was only right to treat ourselves to a nice cold Guinness. Cheers! 

  
  

Day 1

   
  

Day 2

 

 

Day 2

 
After our drinks, it was time for food & more exploring.  Both days took me back into the city to play in the famous Temple Bar area.  Both evenings consisted of lots of Jameson, fish & chips, live music & a lot of fun. 

   
   
 

Both days brought me here for live music and even NFL football. I got to watch my Oakland Raiders play the Miami Dolphins, in London!

 

   
   


              
   
  

  

     

The second night was so special, because Jamie & I got to celebrate with Carolyn  on her last layover.  We all pitched in to get her a nice photo of Dublin & we had a cake for her on our flight back.  We all had a wonderful time.  Best wishes, Carolyn! 

Thanks for reading along, everyone. Cheers!
  

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Chasing Nicky Jam 

Last week was my second attempt at seeing Nicky Jam, live, and (unlike my first attempt in Guadalajara) it was an utter success! It all started on February 13, in Mexico. I ventured out to the town that raised my father for amazing (economically priced) tickets for the Fénix Tour’s last stop in Mexico. For the price of the front-and-center seats, a (discounted) flight, hotel, food & drinks, I could experience Nicky Jam up close & personal for less than I could at any of his U.S. stops.  

Little did I know that my once declared statement of, “This man will only break my heart,” would come true so soon. Due to “lack of security & technical support,” the Fénix Tour had to “postpone” its Guadalajara show until further notice. I, of course, wasn’t made aware of this until I showed up for the concert, only to find a dark, lonely stadium. Talk about heartbreak! 

Lucky for me, my amazing career allows me to travel. I just had to request a refund, and cough up the extra cash to see Nicky in a different city. It just so happened that I had the day off when Nicky would be performing at Madison Square Garden. I’ve always wanted to see a show there, and since I was more determined than ever to get to see Nicky jam, I was in! 

My ticket for the Garden was more than double what I paid for at el Auditorio Benito Juarez, and my seat wasn’t nearly as good, but I was excited to dance the night away with great music & mi gente Latina de Nueva York! 

Zion Y Lennox got everyone on their feet as the opening act. They have so many huge hits. The crowd was singing along, letra por letra & the dancing was contagious. 

photo courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 Valentino did a great job at keeping people on their feet before Nicky took the stage.  

A large clock indicated the countdown to the main event & when it struck 0:00, the phone rang & el Cangri’s voice serenaded the crowd with the opening lyrics from Travesuras… “Hola bebe!” 

 

photo courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 
From that first song, until the last note was sung, the entire audience was on their feet. It was a night of dancing, singing, laughing, & screaming. Nicky Jam has a sexy voice, great dance moves, and a smile that could melt you like a Popsicle on the Fourth of July

  
  
  
 

photos courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 
His flirtatious lyrics, catchy beats & charismamatic stage presence make women swoon & men feel smooth. It’s the classic “every girl wants him & every guy wants to be him,” scenario. Nicky’s definitely got something special. 

The night included a lot of lights & fireworks. Nicky took breaks from singing to joke with the crowd, to host “this side vs that side,” (or “ladies vs fellas”) crowd participation competitions and to take Latino roll call. He greeted Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, Dominicans, & so on & so on… But, I never heard a shout out the recently cancelled-on Mexican fans, something I later brought to the attention of the NJ entourage. 

The night ended with an extended version of Nicky’s huge hit, El Perdon (featuring Enrique Iglesias), during which, Nicky had one of his colleagues select a lucky girl from the audience to join him on stage. It couldn’t have gone on long enough. I was loving every minute of it. I’m sure Angelica (the serenadee) felt the same way. 

Nicky made it a point to express his gratitude to the everyone in attendance. He kept saying that we were making his dreams come true, by allowing my him to say that he not only played Madison Square Garden, but that he played a sold out show there on March 3, 2016, a day I doubt any of us will ever forget.  

Bravo, Nicky. Bravo! 

   

  
Get your tickets to the Fénix Tour and all the latest news on Nicky Jam at NickyJampr.com

*Special thanks to Carlos Plaza at areaNewYork.com for collaborating with me & providing photos from concert. 

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On The Radio! 

I started my blog with the intention to show what life could look like when you start over. I wanted to share what it was like to try new things & chase dreams. During a recent visit home, I had the chance to fulfill my dream of being on the radio! 

My friend, Alexia, is on air Monday through Friday on San Diego’s Energy 103.7. She’s been building her career in radio for well over a decade and it’s all come full circle. I introduced her to San Diego about 13 years ago, for a crazy weekend to celebrate her birthday. She (like many) fell in love with America’s Finest City instantly. Now, she’s working her dream job in the city that changed her life. I’m so proud of her! 

When she invited me to come chat on her show, I jumped at the opportunity.  You see, I’ve always wanted to have that, “Hey, what’s up, it’s your girl, Ceci, coming to you live. Up next, we have The Weekend with The Hills…” moment. It felt so good to make that come true. 

  
We spent hours sharing stories of our younger days, of my travels, my tinder-ing & just laughing & catching up. She made me feel like such a rockstar when she asked me questions about my life. 

  
But, for me, it was so much fun watching her in action. She amazes me with how quick she records & edits snippets, how comfortable she is on the mic, and how happy broadcasting to her listeners makes her. It was truly a beautiful thing to witness. 

   
   
  
So, this is my way of saying “Thank you,” to my friend, for allowing me to spend a night in her world, to experience something I’ve always dreamed of, and for being such an inspiration to me & so many others! 

  
  

  
Catch Alexia on air M-F from 7pm-12am PST on 103.7 fm in San Diego, or Energy1037.com worldwide! 

  
Thanks for reading along, everyone.  Make sure to tune in tonight! 

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Sisters in Paris 

As I mentioned in my Amsterdam post, I got to enjoy a little vacation with my sisters in Paris this time, last year.  It was their first time in the city and we had a long list of things to do. 

We started our trip with a train ride from Amsterdam.  After hopping on the wrong train & transferring, we accidentally ended up in first class.  It was amazing! 

Our hotel in Paris was right near the Eiffel Tower, & we could peak at it from our window.  My sister & I made sure to walk over to the tower as soon as we checked in.  We took lots of photos. 

   
    
   

The next two days were filled with activities.  We visited The Louver and checked out the Mona Lisa, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower more than once, we ate delicious food, drank lots of wine & wandered the romantic streets of the city. 

  
One of my favorite events was when we took the train to Versailles to see The Palace.  Here’s what the royal estate looked like…  

  
  
  

   

The bedrooms, the carpets, the lighting fixtures, the drapes… everything was so beautiful!

 
  
 

I stopped to touch up my makeup in one of the royal mirrors, as I imagined being a princess, just hanging out at home.


 

Speaking of mirrors… here’s a shot in the famous Hall of Mirrors. You might recognize it from Rihanna’s Dior commercial!

  
  

  
 

Once again, pretending to be a princess…

 
  
  

My blogger bestie and her husband also joined us on the trip.  You saw them in my Amsterdam post, as well.  We met for drinks & bites at the highest view point in Paris.  Here’s a shot of our gorgeous view, from HautePinkPretty.com.  

 

It was a magical moment to share with the girl I once worked with at a bank.  We always dreamed of traveling & talked about following our passions.  Now, here we were, toasting in France! 
I also had the pleasure of taking my sisters to the famous Ladurée, for macaroons and tea.  It was an early birthday present to my big sis.  It filled me with joy to celebrate with her in such a beautiful city. 

  

In a couple of days, my sisters and brother-in-law are joining me for my 2016 vacation… In Colombia! Stay tuned for the post.  I promise to not make you wait a whole year for it.