Reality TV Time: Below Deck Mediterranean

My travel-buddy-for-life XFE and I just got back from a soccer roadtrip through the South, which was basically 3,000 miles of varying degrees of traffic and highways broken up by stops for soccer (go Tottenham), kitschy tourist locales (I’d never been to South of the Border, but I have now), barhopping at country honkytonks (Nashville might be my new favorite place ever), ice cream from gas stations (literally, every day) and tons of Southern food (hello pimento cheese)—all in all, pretty dang awesome.

But before we start down that 3,000 mile road, can we please just talk for a minute about Below Deck: Mediterranean? Because the reunion is tonight and I. Have. Thoughts.

below-deck-mediterranean-season-2-travel-photos-bobby-07

First of all, killing me with those beautiful Croatian backdrops there, Bravo.

below-deck-med-croatia

We went to Croatia in 2013, including Split and Dubrovnik, which are both prominently featured on the show. It was amazing to see the same medieval streets again on the TV screen and it really, really made me want to go back.

Nighttime in Split, Croatia
One of our 2013 photos

In fact, there was one scene where they went to pick up some guests from their hotel right outside of Split instead of at the dock. And wouldn’t you know it, they were actually picking up the guests from the same hotel we had stayed at, Le Meridien Lav (scene of the infamous French fry décor).

So yes. Killing me. Making me want to book another trip immediately.

But, more importantly, I think this was probably my favorite season of Below Deck. And that’s because I felt like this season really shined a light on the social hypocrisy that exists when it comes to gender stereotypes.

malia-below-deck-wes-adam.jpg
Love triangle, cruising style.

You already know what I’m talking about. There is, of course, the Malia-Adam-Wes love triangle. I cannot believe how much grief that poor girl got. And for what? For casually dating/getting to know two guys and figuring out which one she might like? Guys do this all the time and no one bats an eye about it. In fact, I believe Mr. Andy Cohen has a whole other show on one of the main networks where contestants date (and sometimes even kiss) three different people in the course of a week!

I was also very shocked that it wasn’t just the aggrieved, jilted Adam who was giving Malia grief. It was the other male deckhands and even the female stews. Hey ladies, how about you stop clutching your pearls over whether Malia is kissing two grown men and giving Malia a high-five for evening up the score a bit. #sistersdoingitforthemselves

Below Deck M

And Adam, maybe you should go check out this museum in Zagreb dedicated to broken relationships. You could have a good cry, donate that hat you lent to Malia, and then maybe some healing can begin.

Below Deck Mediterranean in Croatia
Same street in Split we were on.

I’m actually more bothered by the fact that they’re all co-workers. I’m a firm believer that you should not poop where you eat and dating co-workers falls into that category, which is why I’ve never dated a co-worker. (I’ve also never dated a boss and Wes was a blind idiot for making Malia his second-in-command over Bobby, who clearly has more experience).

Then there’s the whole Hannah-passenger-Jason and Bobby-passenger-Paola business. Again, do I think any of them should be smooching on passengers/clients? No, absolutely not. But the hysteria that surrounded Hannah’s transgression compared to the virtual shrugging of the shoulders when Bobby lurked (multiple times!) on his Tinder match (dude, what are you doing checking Tinder when you don’t even have the night off?) was so annoying and hypocritical.

Hannah and Jason on Below Deck
I will give you credit, Hannah: If you’re going to break the rules, a good-looking millionaire is probably a good route to take.

Even Max admitted to how hypocritical his reaction towards the exact same situation involving crew getting involved with clients was when Bobby went creeping downstairs to get a smooch from a girl who may or may not have been a paid companion of the primary.

jerry and some of his ladies
Jerry the charter primary and some of his..ahem…guests.

Anyway, it was a great season and hopefully, there will be more discussion of this sexist hypocrisy business at tonight’s reunion. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Or, as the Croatians say: Velike ribe male proždiru (big fish devour the small. I’m not sure that actually applies here, but I wanted to include a Croatian proverb).

bobby below deck
Bobby learning how to use an iPad (with an assist from the more tech-savvy Bugsy).

 

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Hotel Crashing: Le Meridien Lav Split

I’m pretty fond of French fries. So you’d think I’d be excited about finding a French fry in our very fancy room at Le Meridien Lav Split.

A singular French fry on the floor in the sitting room of our allegedly recently clean, certainly recently entered room.

Le Meridien Split

It became our mascot. Whenever we would leave the room and reenter, I would immediately check to see if it was still there.

To be fair, the French fry was eventually removed. I was kinda sad about that.

I don’t mind saying….I did not like Le Meridien. It was outdated and desperately in need of an upgrade. It had a very 80s vibe.

 Le Meridien Lav Split.

 

Le Meridien Lav Split.
That would be a towel on the floor of a common area. It was there to soak up a leaky door.

The layout was disjointed, weird and completely counterintuitive. For example, we couldn’t really find a hotel bar in which to enjoy a sunset drink. There was a large open bar right off the lobby with no separation whatsoever. We almost stopped there one night for a drink, but quickly abandoned that idea when we got an earful of the evening’s talent: an old man playing a saxophone along to a CD accompaniment.

I will say: the female staff at Le Meridien were all incredibly hot. Not at all helpful, but very attractive. So….there’s that.

Le Meridien Lav Split.

 

OUr room at Le Meridien Lav Split.

Just to give an example: They had these glass cases displaying a special Le Meridien beach bag. It was pretty cute, featured some art work by a Croatian artist and some of the proceeds went to a local charity. We asked at the reception desk if we could see one, and how we could go about purchasing one, if they still had the design I wanted. Confusion descended. Many consultations and phone calls later, just as I was losing my interest, I was told to go down to the spa and purchase the bag there.

By the way, the spa desk area, was about a million miles away and had turnstiles. Not sure why, but it had entry gates similar to the metro entry system. So, so odd.

I guess the Meridien name has some major currency because the place was packed with vacationing families. This became especially apparent in the chaos that was the pool area. It was very packed and not so relaxing.

Pool and beach at Le Meridien Lav Split.
It was a very beautiful pool and beach, with gorgeous views.

Honestly, it was a bunch of little things with Le Meridien Split – the room with an ocean view did have a slight ocean view, visible just past the lovely industrial rooftops of the commercial strip where a lot of the restaurants, yacht and dive shops, and ice cream shops were.  Or the fact that the advertised shuttle service was inconveniently out of service during the entirety of our stay. Or the free wifi that would not accept our login and password, requiring a couple of calls to the front desk and more confusion.

But, I must say, Le Meridien is the first hotel I can remember staying in that gives you a free French fry as an amenity.

View from balcony at Le Meridien Lav Split.
Our balcony view
View from balcony at Le Meridien Lav Split.
The other side of our balcony view

Croatian Dermabrasion: The Ancient and Improved Split

Every time I hear the word “laser,” I think of Austin Powers and Dr. Evil’s “frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.”

Which is kind of how I now imagine Split got its recent laser makeover – sharks with laser beams trained in the fine arts of architectural preservation.

shark lasers

I’m obviously completely incorrect. According to The Art Newspaper:

Conservators in Croatia have completed a ten-year project to remove more than 1,700 years of grime from the courtyard of the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (AD244-311), in the coastal city of Split. Lasers were used as the primary method to clean the peristyle of the fourth-century imperial residence—an innovative technique that is normally reserved for cleaning individual sculptures or details of larger architectural elements, as opposed to whole structures. According to the architect Goran Niksic, who works for the city, this is the first time lasers have been used on this scale in Croatia to clean stone.

Pretty cool stuff. Science, man.

And those poor conservationists. Can you just imagine? I get impatient just brushing my teeth for the full recommended two minutes with my electric toothbrush.

Anyway, I don’t really know what Split looked like before, but it was pretty dang nice when we went. Which was a bit of a surprise. A couple we met in Dubrovnik had told us Split was no big deal. They said it was like any other big tourist city and not very charming.

Old wall in Split, Croatia

I’m not sure what part of Split they went to, because we were totally mesmerized.

Beautiful architecture in Split, Croatia

Split is famous for being built around the Diocletian Palace. Diocletian was a Roman Emperor who built a retirement home in Split. Just the fact that a Roman Emperor was retiring is pretty unusual. There wasn’t a whole lot of job security or retirement options for Roman Emperors, what with all the back stabbing (often, literally) and scheming of family members and wives and whatnot.

Diocletian Palace, Split, Croatia

Diocletian Palace, Split, Croatia

We walked around the palace/city in the early evening, just as the sun was setting and casting a golden glow on the stone walls. The city is a mishmash of architectural styles, representing the influence of all the various conquerors who occupied the city at various points in its history – Gothic arches from the Venetians, heavy Empire columns from the Napoleonic era, French Baroque, Romanesque, it’s all there.

Beautiful architecture in Split, Croatia

Beautiful architecture in Split, Croatia

We had dinner at an outdoor café in one of the many, many squares, with street performer/fire eaters entertaining crowds nearby. After eating mostly fish for the majority of our trip, we both had cheesy, baked lasagna after seeing the dish at another table. We sat full and content just watching the world go by and finishing our wine.

Nighttime in Split, Croatia
our restaurant is on the right with the red awning.

Lasagna in Split, Croatia

After dinner we walked around a bit more, stumbling upon another square with steps all around. People were sitting on cushions listening to some musicians playing a Coldplay cover in the shadows of the ancient columns and a sliver of a moon. Better than any nightclub.

Nighttime in Split, Croatia

Nighttime in Split, Croatia

To full for any ice cream (this was a common and regrettable occurrence), we meandered through one portico after another, each corner tucked away with a tiny out-of-the-way restaurant or bar until we finally reached the Riva, where we grabbed a taxi back to our hotel on the outskirts of town.

Nighttime in Split, Croatia

With or without a face lift, Split is a lovely lady of a town.