Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vacation Journal, part 6- Barbados

We woke up to a cloudy overcast sky, not what you want to see when you have a beach/snorkel day planned.  We walked through the terminal area to find the place that was designated as our meeting place for the tour.  Once we located it, we browsed through some shops right there in the terminal area.  Of course, now is when it decides to start raining, well more like pouring!! We found others that were also waiting for Shasa Tours to pick them up.  Well at least we knew we were in the right spot and didn’t get left.  We waited awhile, watching as other groups left with their tours guides.  We started to wonder a little but shortly after, the driver arrived and drove us to the spot where we would get on the catamaran.  We had two guides for the day. We all boarded and set out.  By now the rain had slowed down and had almost quit.  We drove to the snorkel spot and were the first boat there.  As we anchored we saw a few turtles.  As we got our snorkel gear on, one of the guides jumped in and started feeding the turtles.  There were soo many of them! And a few that were pretty big!  They would come right by you and swim around trying to get food like you weren’t even there!  You could stick your arm out and touch their shells as they swam by.  It was very cool.  I looked down once and saw a HUGE stingray.  It was at least 6 feet wide and the tail on it was looongg.  Probably 10 feet, I would guess.  Only one other swimmer and the guide were near me to see it. Our guide said it is the biggest one he has seen!





Regrettably, we don’t have any pictures of Tim in the water with them. He was having trouble with his snorkel and kept breathing in water.  I thought he was uncomfortable
(he’s not a fan of water, ya know) and he didn’t like snorkeling.  I didn’t wanna pressure him to jump back in the water if he didn’t like it.  I later found out he really did enjoy it.  So we’ll just have to go back again and get pictures of him with the turtles. ;)

After swimming with the turtles for about 30 minutes we loaded up and sailed to our next snorkel spot, a coral reef preserve and sunken barge.  The govt actually sank this barge to promote the sea life and bring in more fish to the area.  It was really cool! Here I saw many fish like the one in the children’s book, Rainbow Fish.  Here Tim fixed his snorkel gear and was easily able to swim and not get a mouthful of water through the snorkel.  Him and I set off down the reef to see what we could find.  There were tons of different fish, lots of fan coral, and some sea urchins.  Tim loved snorkeling it turned out! I am glad because now it means we can keep going on other new islands we visit!  After snorkeling at the coral reef for awhile we made the trip back to the beach we were picked up at.  There was transportation waiting to take us back to the ship. 

When we got back on the ship we stopped by our room to drop off our swim gear and headed to Deck 9 for the lunch buffet.  This was the only time we would be on the ship during the lunch hour.  Lots of many yummy choices were offered and I sampled a few of them but my lunch mainly consisted of a HUGE salad with TONS of vegetables.  I needed to get some vitamins in!!  Tim commented on my HUGE salad. I said “Yea but all of this is a small amount of calories, it’s ok.”  He replied with, “Yea, but it’s a ton of food!!”  LOL he was right but I did make a pretty good dent in it!

After we ate we headed back out to the terminal shops to make a few purchases.  The weather was still crappy and it was sprinkling rain the whole time and overcast.  Soon, we were back on the ship and relaxing in our room until dinnertime.  Tonight I tried the vegetarian dish on the menu, the baked polenta.  It was very good!  Tim chose some type of chicken dish that he said was pretty good.  We also chose the black bean soup, the French onion soup, a sushi appetizer, and the smoked chicken quesadilla.  Every night I looked at the menu I could usually pick out with Tim would order before he even said anything. I guess I just know him that well ;)  The evening show was a juggler that was actually really good. He was entertaining to watch.  I can’t remember what we did after the show…. Shoulda taken more notes!


Polenta (sorry it's the wrong way)



Tim's chicken




Tomorrow St. Lucia….

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vacation Journal, part 5- Sea Day

The next day was a sea day.  We wanted to get up and watch the sunrise.  Tim set his alarm and got me up when it was time to head to “Libido Deck”. The sun wasn’t up yet, but it was really cloudy so it wasn’t as pretty as I was hoping it would be but we still saw it at least! 

After watching the sunrise it was only about 6:15am and the full breakfast didn’t start until 7-7:30 so we decided to grab some pastries and juice then head back to the cabin lay back in bed for awhile.  I got a short nap in but Tim couldn’t fall asleep so watched TV the whole time.  We got up about ate a big breakfast then decided to hit the gym early.  I thought I would run a little bit each day but this turned out to be the only day I worked out.  Tim only made it one or two other days, also.  I ran on the outdoor track while Tim hit the weights in the gym which is located up by the spa on Deck 11. After I finished my running I went to find Tim in the gym area and lifted some.  He still was not done with his workout so I went back to the room to shower and get my swimsuit on and then set up on a deck chair to get some sun.  We were lucky that it was really sunny and hot on our day at sea.  Tim later joined me and we layed in the sun for as long as we could take it.  We were there until about noon and then decided to take a quick shower before heading to the wine tasting that was scheduled at 1:00.  We each got 5 glasses of wine paired with crackers, grapes, strawberries, and 3 or 4 different kinds of cheeses for $10 each. A pretty good deal!  The wine tasting was fun and informative, glad we did it. 











After wine tasting we headed to the Adult Serenity Deck area for our Cruise Critic meet and greet.  We were a little late since we the wine tasting ran over but we did find a few people that I had talked with online before the cruise, a group of people from Atlanta that traveled down for a wedding that was in St. Thomas the previous day.  We spent a little while talking and then all went to the Love and Marriage game.  We already planned on going so we all went down together.  The couple that we were with got picked to go on stage as the newlywed couple.  The game was a lot of fun and Tim and I played along from the audience.  He actually did REALLY well! I was impressed!!

After the game we ventured to the lunch area and of course had some frozen yogurt and cheesburgers.  The ice cream and frozen yogurt machines are open 24 hrs but we surprisingly didn’t eat it everyday (even though now I wish we did. I could really go for some twist frozen yogurt right about now!). 

Tonight was our first formal night for dinner so we got all dressed up and waited to be seated. This was the only night we ended up sitting with someone else for dinner.  We were seated with a honeymooning couple from Florida.  It was fun to hear others’ plans for the week and also their life in another state.  I didn’t take pictures this night but the Greek salad I ordered was AWESOME!!!  I only ordered one dessert this night, of course the chocolate melting cake!!  After we ate, Tim and I went to the Vegas Style show, City Lights.  There was adult comedy night this night, also, so we went to that after the City Lights show.  Again the comics were hilarious!

After the comedy show I’m sure we headed to the pizza area for some pizza slices and frozen yogurt like we did a few nights of the cruise (I thought I would remembered everything more clearly. I should’ve taken more notesJ) .  All I really wanted was the crust to dip in my ice cream, YUM!! –What you don’t dip your pizza crust in ice cream???  What about fries??  I learned this from my mom when I was really little.  The Villager chocolate malt and French fries, MMMM!! You need to try both dippers if you haven’t yet, so good!!

Tomorrow- Barbados and swimming with the turtles.  Tim’s much anticipated tour of the whole vacation!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Books worth reading

I recently finished two books in less than a week! I thought I would share here because they were fun reads! 

I read The Pioneer Woman's blog regularly and didn't pay too much attention to the book she put out this year Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. I thought it was another cookbook of hers.  Somehow I learned that it was actually a book about how her and her cowboy husband met.  So I found it on Amazon and threw it in my shopping cart for later so I wouldn't forget about it.  I randomly throw things I'm interested in or want in my shopping cart so I don't forget about them and then place orders when I'm ready.  So that one was now in there and on my radar.  Well, with Amazon when you place something in the cart, it brings up others selections that you might like based on what you look at and search for.  More memiors came up. I LOVE reading memiors (especially about celebrities. I would reccommend all of Tori Spelling's books. VERY funny!).  So lots of memiors were suggested for me, mainly of families and pregnancy.  There was one that caught my eye, Two Kisses for Maddy.  I read the description and immediately threw that in my cart, also. 


Matt and Liz Logelin were high school sweethearts. After years of long-distance dating, the pair finally settled together in Los Angeles, and they had it all: a perfect marriage, a gorgeous new home, and a baby girl on the way. Liz's pregnancy was rocky, but they welcomed Madeline, beautiful and healthy, into the world on March 24, 2008.

Just twenty-seven hours later, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and died instantly, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited. Though confronted with devastating grief and the responsibilities of a new and single father, Matt did not surrender to devastation; he chose to keep moving forward-- to make a life for Maddy.

In this memoir, Matt shares bittersweet and often humorous anecdotes of his courtship and marriage to Liz; of relying on his newborn daughter for the support that she unknowingly provided; and of the extraordinary online community of strangers who have become his friends. In honoring Liz's legacy, heartache has become solace.

 

The next day it popped into my head that maybe our local library would carry my newest additions to my wishlist.  I searched online and it carries them both! And they were both checked in! YAY! No waitlist for me! I chose to get Two Kisses for Maddy on CD to listen to in the car.  The next day Kaydin and I headed to the library to pick up the books that were already pulled for me and waiting on the shelf.  I love that service! No need to search for what I'm looking for.  I have the hardest time locating books on a library shelf.

On the way home from the library I popped in the first CD. Since we only live just down the street from the library, I only got to listen to the first two minutes of the book.  That night before going to bed, I started The Pioneer Woman's book.  Almost two hours later, I decided I it was probably time to shut my light off and get some sleep.  It was just so interesting and fun to read I didn't want to put it down! Last night I finally finished it, only took me 6 days!
 
The next morning while taking Kaydin to school, I snuck in about six more minutes of the book on CD. I realized I had my small Ipod headphones and decided to take the book into the office with me and listen while I worked for the day.  Great choice because I was able to finish the book in two days instead of the probably 40 days if would have taken me since I am not in my car much at all.  It was a great book with a great deal of sadness, but I totally recommend it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Loot

So a box was delivered to my office this morning. I had no idea what it was….
Until I remembered that I had won an online giveaway earlier this week! This had to be it.  And it was!!  I was the winner of a six month supply of Black Silk Coffee, a Folgers coffee cup, biscotti, and a black silk robe!  Great gift….if only Tim and I drank coffee more.  Or owned a coffee maker for that matter.  Well we do have a Tassimo (much like a Kuerig) but these containers of coffee grounds just won’t work for that machine.  This is probably one giveaway I should have passed on.  And then I actually win it.  Ha! Why couldn’t it have been a new DSLR camera or Kitchen-Aid mixer than I always enter for!



Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers, after all I did WIN something!! Tim’s dad will be stoked since he will be the proud new owner of a free six month coffee supply!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vacation Journal, part 4- St. Thomas

The next morning we got up and headed to Deck 9- Lido Deck, or as Tim called it all week- Libido Deck.  There we found some long lines for the breakfast buffet.  In the morning hours, there is an omelet station where you get hamburgers and hot dogs in the afternoon, the Mississippi BBQ.  Here the line was short at all hours everyday of the cruise.  We ate our breakfast and headed back to our room to pack a few things we needed for the day and headed off the ship to look at the Havensight Shopping Mall right there at the port.  We only had a short time and decided to head back to meet up with our tour with Godfrey.  Remember, we needed to stop pushing our luck on time.  We headed back to the security gate and ran into a man holding a clipboard.  He stuck his hand right our and asked if I was Mollie.  Perfect timing!! He was directing others that were also on his tour that day.  First, we had two hours to shop in downtown Charlotte Amalie.  Tim and I first went to the post office that we parked beside to mail a postcard out to Kaydin.  We spent the time browsing many shops looking at liquor prices, sunglasses, cologne, etc.  I knew the prices would be good but didn’t expect to want to spend much.  We didn’t budget too much for shopping but next time we will remember that and maybe bring back some nice watches and colognes and perfume that were priced a good amount less than here in the US.  After walking down the long street and back up again we visited the open air market area where I found some cute hairclips for Kaydin, a butterfly and flower. 
Kaydin's new butterly clip and her Ciera look-alike we found in San Juan

Next, was the island sightseeing part of the tour.  Godfrey picked us back up at the shopping area and we were on our way.  We stopped at many places for some great views and he pointed out Bluebeard and Blackbeard’s Castle.  We also went to the Mountain Top area.  The new mall had just open a few weeks earlier.  It was very nice and the view was GREAT!!! Godfrey was a wealth of knowledge and really knew his stuff.  He was great and ran a successful business! I would book with him again. After about 1 ½ hours of showing us the sights we went on to Magen’s Bay.  The beach is great, very pretty and clean.  The water beautifully clear.  Tim and I layed out our towels and got in the water.  We quickly noticed all the small fish around us. There were hundreds!! We had until 3:40 in the afternoon to spend at the beach.  We played in the water for a little bit and then hit our towels for some relaxation time.  While Tim napped a little, I watched the crazy birds dive right into the water to try to catch one of the small fish that we were swimming with earlier.  After lounging for awhile in the sand, we couldn’t contain our hunger so we walked down the beach to the restaurant and bar. There we got two huge slices of pizza for $3.00 each.  We headed back to gather our things, hit the bathrooms (nice clean facilities), and boarded our bus back to the ship.  Godfrey took the scenic route back that took about 20-25 minutes.  We were walking about on to the ship about 4:15.  This was the only port we had to show our ID with our sign and sail cards.  All other ports only asked you to show the sign n sail card.  A great first stop to our vacation! 
The new shopping mall entrance at the Mountain Top

 One of the birds that dove under the water to get the fish.                One of Godfrey's vehicles

The view of where our ship docked


Magen's Bay

View from the Mountain Top. Below is Magen's Bay

Another view of Magen's Bay

The safety drill was scheduled for today at 4:30pm.  We stopped back at our room and then headed to our muster station. Easy and painless, well if you disregard Tim’s objections and multiple threats to just skip it!  He agreed easy though and it was mandatory.  After the safety drill, we hit up the deli. We actually tried getting a sandwich before the drill but all the food stations stop serving and close while the safety briefing is going on.  I thought we should try it, maybe we could get our food first. Tim knew it wouldn’t work but humored me anyway. A few people in front of us and the line was stopped. Dang it! He was right!! So anyway, after the drill he hopped back in line at the deli.  Pesto, arugula, fresh mozzarella, and turkey for her; grilled ham and cheese for him.  The pesto sandwich is great!! The grilled ham and cheese not so much.  As we sat by the window watching our ship sail away from the island of St. Thomas, we saw many other little islands.  One was just solid rock, nothing on it.  Tim came up with an elaborate plan to build a house IN the island. It was pretty detailed and actually sounded pretty cool- just not too practical.  He said the hardest part of building his new island home was getting the materials out there.  Lol, he was pretty serious about this island-home-in-the-rocks.
                                                           
For dinner we chose the fried mozzarella, wilted spinach and portabella mushroom with bacon bits and blue cheese (awesome!), Yukon gold cream of potato soup for starters.  Tonight is the night Tim started his ordering of the fruit cream soups.  Tonight it was Chilled Cream of Peaches.  For our main course I ordered the flat iron steak and Tim ordered the Fried Chicken.  He said his chicken was pretty good, but my steak wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.  For dessert, Tim ordered the Bitter N Blanc, which is a dark choc and white choc bread pudding with vanilla sauce.  Well I don’t care for bread pudding so didn’t think I would like it.  Wow, was I wrong!! This was probably my favorite thing we ate all week!! It was awesome!! I found the recipe upon returning home, but man, it seems pretty complicated for me.  I think I’ll have to try it though just so I can have it again, SO GOOD!!  We also ordered the chocolate melting cake.  Tonight was the best it was cooked in my opinion.  Not too runny, enough baked cake, but still had the melting cake feel.  We also tried the Tiramasu.  This was just ok.  After dinner we ventured to the Caribbean Lounge for the Welcome Aboard Show.  It featured the singers and dancers  of the ship.  After this we headed to the adult comedy that is held in the Adriatic Lounge, Deck 5, Aft.  Happy Cole was great! He was hilarious and had us laughing the whole time! 
Tim's fried chicken

My flot iron steak- not very good.

Fried mozzarella

 Tim with his yukon gold potato soup. He liked it! :)
Wilted spinach with portabello mushroom.  Very good!

Chilled peaches and cream



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vacation Journal, part 3- First day on the ship!

The next morning we woke up and got ready quickly so we could have some time to look around the fort, El Morro. We walked to the lobby and were just walking outside when it started pouring.  Not the start I wanted to our vacation.  So we just decided to hang out in lobby and use the internet there until rained stopped.  It didn’t take too long and we were on our way to El Bombonera for breakfast.  It was just 2-3 blocks down from our hotel.  The food was great, we split an omelet and then walked on to El Morro.  The entry fee was $3 per person.  We spent some time there exploring and walking around.  Tim, the history buff, read most all of the plaques and signs giving all the historical information.  A lot of it was really interesting.  The weather was still cloudy but at least it wasn’t raining. 
 At the fort entrance

Tim in one of the lookout towers.                            History buff!!
Looking to the east along the coastline

At the top by the lighthouse

Right when you come in the entrance

On our way back we stopped in a few shops and picked up a few essentials (shaving cream, extension cord, etc.) and a few gifts for Kaydin.  Checkout from the hotel was quick and easy and we hit the street to walk the 3-4 blocks to the pier at about 12:15pm.  The walk was pretty easy even on the cobblestoned streets and towing a 51 pound bag.  Just as we were getting close to the pier it started raining hard.  We got through the jumble of people at the terminal entrance to show our boarding pass and passport, easy enough.  We then walked on and got to the entrance of the building where we dropped off our checked bags.  We stopped in the liquor store on the main level of the terminal and I grabbed a bottle of coconut rum for $4.00!!! Up the escalators and we were in line to check-in.  The line didn’t take too long, got checked in and directed around the corner to the security checkpoint.  I did put the coconut rum in the backpack to see what would happen.  Our bag was tagged and once we went around a few corners and hallways we were to the entrance of the ship.  There was an area where you have to forfeit the liquor that was found in the bag. The guys at that area almost didn’t notice we were tagged and we started to walk right on.  What could have easily been done was switch one of our wine bottles for the liquor bottles.  I was carrying on the wine, Tim had the liquor.  When they looked it would've been just wine in the tagged bag which was allowed.  Oh well! While we are on the subject of alcohol I did bring a small amount in my checked bag but did not even open it once the whole week. One quick picture for the sign n sail cards and we were inside our new home for the week!! I think at this point it was probably 1:00pm or so.  Since the rooms were not to be ready until 2:30pm we went to Lido- Deck 9 for some lunch and a phone call home to Kaydin since rates were lower in Puerto Rico than the others islands (69 cents/minute).  By now it was about 2:20.  We decided to see if the rooms were ready yet and they were. 

We planned on walking Old San Juan and seeing the other Fort, San Cristobal, but since the weather was crappy, we decided to just search for some sunglasses for Tim and hit CVS for some bottled water and more wine (you are allowed one bottle per person in your carry-on bag.  We brought one each through the first time and wanted to bring one more each if we found something decent.  Tim decided against a new pair of Oakleys (even though he tried on 10 pairs, a few of the same pairs several times). I was the good girlfriend picking out my favorites and letting him know the ones I didn't like.  It was a good choice though because they would’ve gotten banged up throughout the trip.  We got our stuff from CVS (it’s located just on the west side of Senor Frog’s) and headed back to the ship in the still rainy and cloudy weather L

Here's all the freebies we found in our bathroom.

The bathroom.  The hairdryer did NOT work well so hair pulled back all week for me!


Our room!

This is a map that showed our route through the ocean.  Tim was still trying
to figure out which islands we were stopping at.

Me outside our stop at CVS. Tim says this is his fav pic from the trip because
 I kept mentioning going to CVS for water. LOL. I just wanted to be prepared!

In our bathroom we found a packet of goodies!! Tim was happy that a good razor was included.  We showered and got ready for dinner.  On the first night it is open seating in the dining rooms.  For the rest of the cruise we were assigned to Deck 4 in the Atlantic Dining Room.  The food was great but we found the desserts and appetizers to be better than the main courses.  Most nights we both ordered two starters, a main course, and I sometimes ordered two desserts, including the Chocolate Melting Cake every night! YUM!! The majority of the time though, they were a little undercooked for my liking but still great nonetheless, obviously since I ordered it every night!! I told Tim before we got on the ship that I would be eating a lot during the week and not to judge me!! I actually didn’t eat quite as much or as bad and I originally thought.  Well, if you don’t count the two desserts per night ;)  I have to have my sweets! The first night I ordered the cream of sun ripened tomato soup, shrimp cocktail, and the tilapia with mac and cheese.  All were very good.  Tim ordered the Caesar salad and was not impressed. He also got the chicken tenders and the chicken a la Greque, which was a chicken breast with a pesto sauce.  We ordered crème brulee for dessert too.  I thought it would be better, but still good!

Tilapia

Tim's chicken
Vanilla Creme Brulee

Chocolate melting cake!

Raspberry mojito that I didn't like. It was too bitter.

After dinner we made our way to Deck 9 for the sail away party.  There were lots of people and some games going on.  It didn’t last too long outside though because it started to rain.  Tim and I decided to head to deck 3 where you can be outside but the lifeboats are above you so it shielded the rain.  There we watched as we sailed away from San Juan and on to the next island.  Also, when we were standing outside we kept seeing fish jump.  There were some really big ones right beside our ship!  After we sailed around El Morro we decided to make our way back inside since it was really windy and chilly outside. Next, we checked out the casino.  Tim was excited about a casino being on the ship because he usually has pretty good luck playing Blackjack in Vegas.  I spotted a fairy game that I thought was calling to me so we sat there.  After only a few pulls (a couple from Tim) we won $40!!! I NEVER gamble and was really excited! Well, cautious and superstitious, me we cashed out and I was done for the night.  I watched him play, or lose, a few hands of blackjack and we called it a night.  By now it was about 12:30am so we were pretty tired and ready for bed.  Had to get some rest for our day in St. Thomas.