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bobmacliberty

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  1. The annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance (the car show) has started. The main event is on Sunday but there are a lot of other events happening around the island. It's neat seeing all of the interesting cars driving around, but the number of attendees makes things a little crazy. The main entrance is right at the front of our neighborhood and it's a mob scene with people walking, cars trying to park, shuttle buses, police controlling things...essentially it's nearly impossible to get in and out of our neighborhood during the weekend. We are loaded up with supplies and will just stay in the neighborhood all weekend. We recently talked about Flightaware and similar apps to track planes. If you're into that kind of stuff, pay attention to the Fernandina Beach Airport (FHB), particularly on Sunday afternoon. You'll see private jets leaving every 10 minutes or so, headed to places around the world. There are people here with SERIOUS money...flying in on their PJ for a few hours/days to see if there are any cars that they want to buy at auction.
  2. I'll add that, from the little that I've read, TCL is a good value brand. It probably won't be as good as a Sony, and probably slightly below Samsung/LG, but it will work well and cost less. They used to be considered a low end brand but their reputation has gone up the last few years. For me, it would depend on how it will be used. If it's a second or third TV in a guest room, I'd go for it. If it's the primary TV that you will watch for a few hours every day, I'd consider spending more. But only if you really think you'll notice the difference. OLED is currently the best (and most expensive) picture quality technology, but Samsung QLED has been perfectly fine for us. We've always been Samsung TV people. Haven't had any problems. I don't think they're necessarily better than LG...it's just the brand that we've become used to. We like having the same on screen menu and remote control in all TVs. Both are massed produced, and probably have some cost cutting measures in their production process to maximize profit, so both will probably have problems eventually. Be careful of comparing TVs in a showroom. They are usually set to very high brightness and sharpness levels with very vivid colors, to make them stand out in a showroom and optimize the very high quality 4K demo videos being shown (which you will not get from your cable or streaming service). Some even have a built in store display/demo mode for this purpose. You won't use that mode at home. It would quickly look unnatural and cause eye fatigue, and the lighting conditions at home are very different than a store with bright fluorescent lights. I could tweak the settings of two TVs that are side by side so that one looks better than the other, and then tweak back so that you're preferred TV switches. Ideally you'd want a more realistic lighting environment with multiple TVs optimally tuned to compare TVs side by side. Some higher end stores offer this. Still, a side by side comparison in a store can at least give you a rough feel for different models. You can always ask a salesperson to put a few models in a more normal viewing mode for comparison. If you do that, don't be surprised if those TVs suddenly don't look as good as the others that are still in store mode. I wonder if Best Buy will eventually go the way of Sears. I originally said that I would not buy a larger purchase like a big TV online. I bought my last TV online though and it worked very well. Above a certain size, it's easier than transporting a TV box home from a store yourself.
  3. OB is correct. I have a YouTube Premium account and I can download any YouTube video to watch offline. The music that you listen to is embedded in a video file that, as OB said, is much larger than an .mp3 music file. You play any downloaded files using the YouTube app, not an audio app. YouTube is very much trying to crack down on any 3rd party ways to save their videos and/or extract audio from the video. If you really want to go that route, use a free software app called Audacity. You can tell it to record the sound on your computer such that you start recording in Audacity, then start playing the YouTube video, then stop the recording when the video is done, and save as an .mp3 file. The recording quality will be slightly degraded from the original file since you're recording the analog translation of the digital file, and then saving back to digital. Audacity is pretty powerful and has a somewhat steep learning curve. Probably not worth the effort. I also agree with OB's recommendation for Spotify. I've found almost every song that I've searched for on Spotify. The only exception has been some of @Sea Dog's obscure Christmas music. With Spotify, you can easily create and share playlists. I've got a playlist of pool music that's 2 hours long (Jimmy Buffett, Zac Brown, Bob Marley, etc.), and one for upbeat rock that's 4.5 hours long (What I Like About You, Walking on Sunshine, Livin' On A Prayer, Pump It Up, etc.). I've saved playlists that others have created as well. Well worth the monthly fee if you're a fan of music of any genre. Other good streaming music playing options include Pandora and Amazon Music. I tend to use one of these services like a radio station where I can select a specific genre (jazz, classic rock, classical, etc.) and let the service pick the specific songs. Oops...should have quoted @Arzeena's original message instead of OB's reply.
  4. I agree. We normally would not have booked an AI trip but since we're retired and have the time, we can be more flexible. We want to do more trying short trips for things that we would not normally book, to see if we like them or not. Best case, we find something new that we like. Worst case, we waste a little money and learn that something isn't for us. It's nice to have that flexibility.
  5. I'm finally getting around to providing a review of our Punta Cana trip. I'll dump everything into one VERY long post so as not to fill up Dani's thread with a lot of smaller posts. We flew down on Monday, arriving at the hotel around 5pm, and flew back on Friday, leaving mid afternoon and arriving home at almost midnight. Delta through ATL both ways. We arranged transportation between PUJ and the hotel (both ways) with a company called DAT. They got good reviews in TripAdvisor and delivered as promised. We had Monday dinner and evening events, 3 full days Tuesday thru Thursday, and Friday morning/lunch at the resort. Once we checked in, we didn't leave until we checked out. As I said earlier, we stayed at Secrets Cap Cana. Cap Cana is a gated area in the southern part of the greater Punta Cana area...about a 15 minute drive from the airport. It's a 5-star resort but I've learned that hotel star ratings are very much relative to where they're located. A 5-star hotel in London is different from a 5-star hotel in Punta Cana. For the most part, it lived up to the 5-star rating but overall, I'd probably give it 4.5 stars. Secrets Cap Cana, like much (all?) of Punta Cana is an all-inclusive hotel. All food, drinks, entertainment, WiFi, water toys, and gratuities were included, although we brought a bunch of ones to tip additionally. Many people gave additional tips but it seemed like most did not. Hard to tell though. There were a few upcharge opportunities with the spa, some off-site excursions, and some beach cabanas, but we didn't take advantage of any of those. Our room was a Junior Suite Ocean View. Almost all of the rooms were Junior Suites with a similar layout and either a king or two double beds. There were a few larger rooms in the preferred section of the hotel, but nothing smaller. You were essentially paying for the view...tropical, pool, ocean view, ocean front, and swim out. We had a nice view from our 5th floor balcony. The resort itself and the rooms were 5-star worthy. The rooms were large and well appointed with an area that had a love seat and chair, double vanities in the bath room, two rain shower heads in the shower, and plenty of drawer and hanging storage. The resort grounds were beautiful with lush vegetation. The pool and beach were fantastic, with plenty of comfortable seating and umbrellas/palapas. There was a little bit of sargassum, but they had some sort of net out in the ocean to catch much of it and did a good job every day cleaning up what made it through the net. Never really a problem. They made a big deal at check in that reserving chairs before noon was not allowed and items on chairs would be removed by security. Nope. We saw many books, hats, and flip flops enjoying the morning son. Still, we never had a problem finding a good place to sit. Either the resort was not at full capacity, or it's well spaced out so that it doesn't feel crowded. Various pictures and videos of the pool and beach: Untitled video (21).mp4 Untitled video (22).mp4 Infinity edge pool overlooking the beach and ocean. The obligatory OB shot. And the obligatory Miami Vice. Swin out rooms The party area, including the swim up bar. Untitled video (23).mp4 Service was mostly very good to excellent...I'd give it 5 stars. We were assigned a personal concierge. I think this is true for all rooms. Our concierge, Luis, was friendly and walked us to our room at check in, pointing out several things as we went to help get us oriented. He also helped with a couple of issues that we had and coordinated luggage delivery and pick up. He found us on the resort somewhere every day to see how things were going and if we needed anything. We traded mobile phone numbers so that we could reach him whenever needed. He also greeted us by text every morning and sent us the day's events...sort of their cruise compass. Here's a sample: Sundial Viernes 23 de febrero INGLES 2024.pdf Restaurant and bar service was also great. I ordered a Miami Vice from the swim up bar and the bartender said with a straight face that they didn't have a Miami Vice. He was literally standing next to frozen drink machines filled with strawberry daquiri and pina colada. I pointed at the machines and said, "what about those?". He said, "those are for a Dominican Vice" and then flashed a huge smile. Every time that I ordered a Presidente beer, the servers would say, "ah yes...Dominican water". They made some very tasty drinks of the day. Although we had a few issues with food (see below), the restaurant staff handled it perfectly. There was an entertainment team, like the Cruise Director's staff, that led events like volleyball (pool and beach), water aerobics, dancing, a coconut throwing competition, etc. They'd serve a variety of things throughout the day at the pool...an Aperol Spritz cart, a crepes cart with a lot of fillings to choose from (I had a great banana and chocolate with a sweetened condensed cream topic...yum), and even an old fashioned looking ice cream chest mounted on the front of a bicycle. The chest was filled with popsicles that they'd put in a margherita glass and top with champagne. Also yum. Beer Kayak. Help yourself. My only knock on service is probably a cultural thing. Several times, wait staff would yell to each other across the room. For example, we had a waitress at breakfast about 10 feet from us who was talking to another waitress about 30 feet away. They were both talking loudly, and often at the same time, for about 30 seconds. If it was my resort, I would have trained them to walk to each other and have a quiet conversation face to face, away from the customers. I know this is kind of communication is common in Latin and Caribbean cultures so their house, their rules. Entertainment was just OK. I'd give it 4 stars. They had a lot of live music throughout the day and in the evening. There was a show every night in their theater. The talent level of the musicians sometimes was lacking. It really makes you appreciate the talent of the entertainment on a Royal ship. To be fair, Royal can get talent from all over the world, while the resort seemed to mostly be choosing from the local region. The musicians all gave their best effort though and it was usually entertaining enough to watch, or at least listen to as background music. The first night in the theater was their most popular show, a Queen tribute. The guy playing the role of Freddie Mercury did a good job of imitating his mannerisms but his voice sometimes left something to be desired. Again, it was entertaining enough to watch for an hour while enjoying a cocktail or two. Here's a video with several clips of the Queen show. Queen.mp4 Food was the biggest disappointment. I'd give it 4 stars, at most. We've only been to one other AI (20 years ago) but from what I've read, it was typical for an AI. The variety was great. There were restaurants specializing in French, Italian, Mexican, Pan-Asian (including hibachi), seafood, and steaks. There was a pool side grill, and a large buffet area (their Windjammer) that served breakfast and lunch. Execution though was often lacking. We had to return food 3 times because it was either undercooked, cold, or both. We had a few meals that were good but none that I'd consider to be great. I've had better meals in Royal's specialty restaurants. I don't think anything was cooked to order. It was served quickly so I think everything was pre-cooked or partially cooked and then just finished before delivering to the table. For perspective, I think we're becoming food snobs and are probably more critical than the average person. One interesting thing (to me a least) was that they had a crew trimming the palm trees. One guy would climb to the top of the tree, literally with just ropes and a machete, and chop off the lower layer of palm fronds. This kept me entertained for a few minutes. Untitled video (24).mp4 The finished product. Seems like they took off a lot of fronds, but the only thing I know about palm trees is that they can be expensive to buy. Wrapping up... Overall, it was a great getaway for a few days. I've said here before that we cruise more for port days since we have a pool and live at the beach. I was worried that I might be bored. That wasn't the case at all. We mostly just relaxed and read books, while taking advantage of a few of the entertainment options. I'm not sure if I could handle more than 3 days without getting itchy to do something, but it was a great way to escape the "cold" Florida weather at home (yes...I've become Florida soft when temps in the 40s/50s are cold). Would I go here again? If we were going back to Punta Cana then yes. I'd try a different island like Aruba or St. Thomas/St. John first though.
  6. Sorry about the less than ideal temps at Jax Beach. Thatโ€™s why we went to Punta Cana. ๐Ÿ˜ Glad you enjoyed TacoLu. Youโ€™ve got my email so feel free to share it with your daughter if she has any Amelia Island area questions.
  7. Just checked out of our resort. Having one last drink with lunch before being picked up at 12:45. Then, a long day of travel. Yuck. Should have decent weather, although not as warm, when we get back. Lunch view.
  8. Secrets Cap Cana Food is good, sometimes very good. Nothing yet that Iโ€™d call great. Variety is great though. Lots of options including their version of the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch.
  9. Sorry that I havenโ€™t been able to respond to anyoneโ€™s recent posts. Weโ€™ve been enjoying our Punta Cana trip. Very good so far. As expected, itโ€™s a lot like being on a cruise with a private island plus the drink and unlimited specialty dining packages. Iโ€™ll post more with pics and videos when we get backโ€ฆprobably Saturday as we arrive home late on Friday. Hereโ€™s a teaser thoughโ€ฆthe view from our room.
  10. Best of luck to your DIL! I'm far from a medical expert, but we did have a OBGYN tell us that a baby really only needs 38 weeks and the last couple of weeks (up to 40) are just bonus time. Not exactly what a woman wants to hear when she's a week overdue, but that stuck with me.
  11. Perfect. You will (hopefully) get a better response to this issue being a physician with personal experience. Although you mention that you have heard this complaint from other people, you may want to add that you would be willing to provide names of these other people should that be helpful to them. It's easy for people to say that "others" have the same problem that they have when that's not necessarily true. Offering to back up your statement with names may help give it more weight. I would be happy to volunteer Micheline's experience where she can't be in most of their entertainment venues for more than a couple of minutes without triggering her tinnitus and causing pain. I'm sure that plenty of other people here would be equally willing to share their negative experiences. Thanks for doing this.
  12. Love seeing this in my inbox. ๐Ÿ˜ One more sleep until Punta Cana. It's been a while since we've been to an AI but it seems very much like a cruise on land, but with bigger "cabins", and hopefully better food. Live music and various activities throughout the day and a show every evening in the theater.
  13. Not a minor thing at all...especially after making so many attempts to get the situation rectified. CPAPs are very important to many people and forcing you to make your hillbilly setup isn't safe. You've got more patience than I do. At this point, I'd probably be knocking on the door of the bridge, demanding that the Captain personally bring an extension cord to my room. ๐Ÿคฃ I agree with others...check with the Diamond concierge or the LA. Explain the situation and I'm sure they will get it resolved quickly, and maybe even comp you a meal or a bottle of wine for your inconvenience (even though I'm sure that you're not asking for that).
  14. I watched a documentary about Oppenheimer before I watched the movie. It helped because the movie jumps back and forth in time. For the first 30 minutes or so, Micheline kept having to ask me what was happening, since she didn't have the context of the documentary. It's on YouTube if interested, but is 90 minutes long.
  15. Speaking of Old Fashioneds, I had to go to the liquor store today because I ran out of this: Greg turned me on to Meletti as a part of his Sea Dog Special Old Fashioned recipe. It's now part of almost every Old Fashioned that I make. Don't think you'll find it on a Royal ship though.
  16. Nothing better than an Old Fashioned in a Schooner Bar! Was this your first drink? I usually start with a Miami Vice and the Old Fashioneds don't happen until before dinner.
  17. Have a great trip Deb! If you're looking for a place to eat in Jax Beach, TacoLu is a very popular local place. Great tacos. We try to go there whenever we're down in that area. They also set up a tent at The Player's golf tournament called Tacos on Twelve (it's behind the 12th green) that is always packed. If you're staying along the beach, I'd also recommend getting a drink at the rooftop bar of the Casa Marina Hotel. We went to a wedding at the Casa Marina a few years ago and the rooftop bar was a lot of fun. For some reason I'm thinking that you mentioned staying at the Margaritaville Hotel. If so, the Casa Marina is right next door.
  18. Thanks for posting this. Micheline loves visiting estates, and this looks like a great place to visit. Margaret Greville must have been a very interesting person. Adding this to the list for our next visit to London.
  19. Perfect description. I've been watching it one episode at a time, several days apart, when there's nothing better to watch. It's entertaining, but not binge worthy.
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