30 January 2010

Carnival Legend

As written in Dec 2006

Total Staterooms - 1,062
Decks - 12
Passenger capacity - 2,124
Total crew - 930
Officer's nationality - Italian
Ship size - Large
Tonnage - 88,500
Ship length - 963
Registry - Panama
Gross tonnage
85,900 (including balconies, approx. 88,500)

We were sailing out of Miami Fl.  This is always one of my favorite ports.  I love to look at the hotels on the beach, the folks hanging out on the beach, that island of condos (have no idea what it is called), all the cruise ships (I love to try and figure out what each one is before I look at the hull), and just Miami in general.

Our room was just a little bit of wonderful!  We had a couch, a first on any cruise!  This was the largest Carnival vessel that we have sailed to date and you can see in the quality of the rooms how far they have come in a short time.  We paid for an inside cabin, the cheapest on the ship, but were very surprised when Carnival upgraded us for FREE to a mini balcony.  It did have a lifeboat right outside but big deal!  The bathroom had a vast amount of storage space and a tile counter (another first).  Our room had large wooden cabinets, now we have had these on other lines, but never Carnival.  It is nice to be able to store everything. 

Around the ship:

The Colossus Atrium--- features a 100ft tall painting of one of the greek gods, I think it is Zeus .  This was by far the loveliest lobby s that I had ever entered. It features many rooms that look out onto the lobby.  That large painting...and a wonderful series of glass elevators.

The Follies Lounge-  A very San Juan inspired lounge, and the main lounge.  There were turret that were reminiscent of the real El Morro, only these were in a teal color with a sandy yellow stucco look.  The tiles outside the lounge were in a Spanish theme in the same teal and yellow colors. 

Unicorn Cafe- VERY medieval.  I loved it here.  I could picture myself in the days of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II.  The colors were hues that you would have expected of medieval times.  There were castle paintings, paintings of 1300-1400 people in their empire wasted dresses.

Firebird Lounge-  A Russian inspired bar...the colors were an brilliant red, sunshine yellow, and a holiday green.  There were artworks that reminded one of the skyline in Moscow.  A very religious type painting of a Russian angel is right inside and very awe inspiring.

The hallway leading to the Follies Theater featured a MASSIVE reproduction of the famous MGM "family" reunion that LB Mayer commissioned in the early 50's.  This was done for Life magazine and I have a copy of it because it has always made me happy. 

Truffles Restaurant-  Where we first met with June and Jay.  It was our first cruise only have one other couple with us and lucky for us, it was a wonderful couple that we had tons in common with.  They were seasoned cruisers so we all had lots to talk about.  There was one thing about this dining room that I had never seen on our other ships...there was an escalator that the waiters (Ninja and Byron) took down into the belly of the ship and back up with our food, so the kitchen was below.  It was a very large escalator.

FUN---John and I did the usual things that we do on a cruise, sun, sand, casino (just a little we broke even $90), and walk around, but this time; I took a crafts class (loved every second of it), and we played Family Feud and WON!!  We had won Carnival trophies before, but this one was a very heavy medal.  I was so proud of us, we love it when we win the prizes. 

The Enchanted Forest---my favorite part of the ship, it was a very narrow hallway in which they had built a bar.  It was NEVER occupied, so I went into it every day and painted, drew, sketched, wrote, and listened to music.  It was like something from Snow White. 

Rodeo Drive-a LARGE mall of wonderful shops...spend more dough here than I ought to have. 

Martinique-  A very tiny island and one that we have never been to before.  We started out with a lot of excitement.  There was this elderly couple whose room was close to ours and we kept saying they were too old and not in the best of health.  We were right!  They both were escorted off the ship in stretchers and that slowed down the ships debarkation, but gave interesting views to most of the passengers.  I had tons of time to take photos while this went on.  WE were docked in Fort de France, and John and I walked into town because we wanted to see the fort and what else the town had to offer.  We probably walked about 1 mile into town through what I call slums.  Our first sight was this row of apartments that I thought were condos when I was taking photos from the ship.  Upon closer inspection they were a dive!  Horrible conditions! 

When we got into the area around Fort St Louis there was a huge park.  We were told that in this park that we might see things that were illegal to do in public in America(with couples).  We did not see any nakedness, but did see tons of folks "making out".  The palm trees in this park where the best that I have ever seen in my life.  We took lots of photos of the trees.  And looming straight ahead was this wonderful looking fort.  It is very much built in the fashion of El Morro, just on a smaller scale.  I shopped in a market and then back to the ship.

Barbados- From the instant that I laid eyes on this place I was in love.  Madly!!!!  You dock in Bridgetown and it looks just wonderful.  The port authority folks were not scary as in some ports, and actually said hello.  We got to the end of the pier and there met our tour.  Glen was to show us the best that the island had to offer.  We bordered a 4x4 jeep and almost immediately drove into the land of sugar cane.  The island makes lots of  sugar.  The canes were whipping up against the side of our jeep.  Glen told us to not let them hit us because we would get cut.  WE passed a row of palm trees (the same variety we had seen in the park)...Glen said when you see palms in a row it meant the owner was rich or you were at a sugar factory.  We were passing the later.  It did not look like much, but the palms were just the best.  Making our way to the coast we entered the town of Bathsheba.  There was graffiti on the walls, monkeys in the yards (they were a small variety and very cute), burned out sugar mills, complete shacks, and literally TONS of churches (Glen said there were 2 churches for every person that lived on the island).  As we passed one church, you looked over the side of the church yard and there it was the ocean!  It was the most fantastic ocean that I have ever seen! It is literally the end of it all, there is nothing else standing between you and Africa except the ocean you are gazing upon.  It was a ultramarine blue with flecks of topaz in it.  The waves were something that you can only imagine.  They were massive.  Glen said it was against the law to swim in the waters because they were too dangerous.  The beach was covered in sand that can be described as rocky and brownish white.  There were rocks that you would see off the side of the road going into the Smokey Mountains.  And white waves as far as you could see.  Glen said it was hard for surfers to stay away because of the huge temptation that the waves left.  We had a snack across the street, but I could not stay away from that beach.  I had never (and have not since) seen any beach that can compare to this beach.  And I don't even know the beach's name.  I know that an episode of the Bold and the Beautiful was filmed in a shack that was abandoned on the beach many years ago. 

We boarded our 4x4 and began another sightseeing tour.  Glen took us by Tiger Woods and Paul McCartney's house.  Past a row of shops that looked like something in Charleston, SC and then to a beach.  It was the rockiest beach that I had ever been to.  I was glad that I had aqua socks on.  I took lots of shells home with me too and we saw a crab walking across the sand. 

We took our tour back to the pier and there was wall of giant rocks that looked like it was to help a sea surge and we climbed on top of them and went through a public park near the pier.  The ship left and headed to St Maartin.

St Maartin-  One of my favorites port....ahhhhh Philipsburg.  I love to shop here.  If you like designer wear this is your one stop.  WE took the water taxi into town (we usually walk) and it was a little bit of fun.  It took us from the pier to the ship in about the time it would have taken to walk, but it was more exciting you and did not have to walk by all the folks asking you to shop in their store.  Once we got into town, I knew right where I wanted to go, so I walked in and bought a Prada bag.  Philipsburg is on the Dutch side of St Maartin, but it is very french like in the architecture and couture.  When you get off the ship, to the right is a row of excursions that you can take.  We always do the same one, Orient Beach because we want to go to the French side.  The beach is just outside of Marigot and is lovely.  Not like Bathsheba, but very nice.  Now there are ugly naked people sometimes walking about on the French side so watch out, but it is a quiet beach where you can rest.  My intention was to get my hair braided and I did.  It took forever!!!  John was in the water the entire time I was getting my hair braided.  I also shopped in the stores for Hannah a beach towel that turned into a bag, because that was one thing that she asked for.  I did find one at a great price...not the color she wanted, but a great price. We stayed for a couple of hours, got wet a couple of times (rain) and then it was time to go.  When we got back to port, there were several ships in port, I got some wonderful photos of those ships as it was dusk and the ships were all lit up. 

Next stop....Miami

Wonderful ship!  Probably my favorite Carnival Ship.  I want to sail her again.

17 January 2010

My opinion on the Norwegian Pearl...we sailed her in June 0f 2008
NCL Pearl

Upon glancing at the vessel, you can tell it is very artsy. There are murals all over the outside of the ship and even down the hull. The hull is what attracted me first to the vessel. Let me tell you that the artsy feel from there carries over to the inside of the ship, but more on that in a second.
First as we approached gangway there were crew members that were armed with sanitizing spray. They made you sanitize before you could enter the vessel, strange…never done that before in all my sailings.
When we got to the elevator again a “germ star” was in the elevator, disinfect you hands…kill germs and the like was what we were told. More on this so remember about the germ star.
I loved the décor when we entered on the lobby floor. Rich blue, Royal purple, calming orange, with a hint of teal green and white all combined in a plush carpet, velvet furniture (with some awesome lines), and PILLOWS (talk about a germ magnet this is what they should get rid of). Oh, and to boot there was a GIANT big screen…we knew from the online reviews that they would play the wii here.
As we entered they told us that our room was ready so to the 10th floor we went. Our room was tiny…much tinier than Carnival (I really think they have the largest afloat –at least in my experience). There was as much storage as I expected and about the same décor I was looking for. My problem was the hallway leading to the room. It is almost impossible to pass 2 x 2 in this hall. I am still trying to figure out how the motor scooter and wheelchair set navigated these passageways.
The public areas were so nice. My favorite lounge was the Spinnaker. I do believe I spent part of every day there. I attended lectures here, and just generally hung out and sketched. One day I was there ALL day long (Glacier Bay day---I had a front row seat to the ocean---this room is all the way forward). It was done in BLUES…all types of blues. I will recreate this room on paper. I have sketched out the background all ready and can’t wait until I can paint it. Next public room that I loved was the Stardust Theater. It was done in Art Nouveu décor, with dragonflies, yellow (gaudy) flowers, peacocks, birds of paradise, swirls, Asian influenced lanterns (sometimes), gold gilt, turquoise carpet, chairs, and some parts of the ceiling. The seats had air vents on the back of them too! We attended lectures in here too.
Garden Café was pretty but hard to navigate…being a buffet room it was ALWAYS crowded. The Indigo dining room was nice. It was done in Americana things…route 66, white house, capital, Mississippi queen, Hollywood sign, Abe Lincoln, Mt Rushmore, Ocean Ave, St Louis Arch, and street signs. I loved the look of this room. The other main dining room was done in a Russian theme featuring things for the Romanov period. There were even painting of Nicholas and his family, Faberge eggs, and the symbol of the imperial Russians. It was very sophisticated.
The Shops were not nearly as nice as Carnival. Not as many and not as stocked and NO room to move. Jewelry selection was not as nice either, I did not buy much. I bought mainly photos. 70 dollars worth and 50 worth of scrapbook stuff (just on the ship I got more on land). I did buy a Pearl album and pages to go with it for the 50 dollars. I do believe it is worth it because I cannot find Alaska paper at home for some reason. The only thing I did not find was Canadian paper, but then our selection of goods was poor there too.
The internet library was so-so and service was terrible and expensive so I did not blog everyday like I wanted to. I did miss blogging or being able to blog that is. I did take my laptop and got all 817 photos that I took enhanced and fixed ready to print. I took some photos in Seattle and I have not done them yet. I got Mt Rainier; I looked all over that airport until I could find a decent spot to capture it. I took probably 20 shots and hopefully I will get a good one. Now I just need to decide which ones to print in what sizes. I have made some Photoshop backgrounds and added some on top of the backgrounds that will make printing easier. I even did a college of Glacier Bay because I took well over 100 pictures there (probably close to 200).
Overall rating of the ship A+
Food B-
Décor A+++
Shopping B
Casino (not that I wanted it, but it was not open and very smoking) D
Service B (Carnival is better)
Room B
Captain being around A
Cruise Director not being pushy A++
Internet guy D
Art Guy A
Mexican Restaurant AAAA+++
Would I go again…Heck yeah
Would I do NCL…yes
Who is better…Carnival (no contest)
Favorite port of call…Juneau for whales, Skagway for town, Ketchikan for shopping, Victoria for its beauty, Glacier Bay for it’s beauty and the Rangers coming on board to explain stuff all day. Overall I can’t pick a port at this moment….it was all just too cold, but I got to see whales!!!
Would I like to do Alaska again? Yes, but I might have to sell a kid to do it

Sunday, June 8, 2008

day 1 and 2

Day 2...Day at sea…
We were traveling to Juneau. Today was a day where we found things to do. The cool thing was most days that I have spent at sea you could see no land but Cuba…today there was land/mountains all around us. You could see the distant mountains and as the day progressed they got larger and larger. Occasionally you could see snow peaks.
We ate lunch at the Blue Lagoon. John and I had fish and chips and Hannah had chicken strips (duh). We bought Hannah a coke card and I do believe that between the 3 of us we have had about 20 cokes in 2 days.
Today was formal day. We all dressed up in our finest and headed to dinner. I had the lobster and beef wellington, John had a steak, and Hannah had pizza. After dinner we headed to the formal portrait settings. We had pictures taken at 4 different stations. We actually ended up buying 3 different backgrounds….more on that later. We retired around 10:00pm and NEVER saw the night time because the sun had not yet set.

Today we did:
Photo lecture (me)
Wii on the big screen (Hannah and John)
Shopping lecture (me)
Trivia (I played everyone went with me)
EAT (all)
Take pictures (all)

Posted by Michelle, 11:05 PM, Permalink

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Day 3 Juneau
When we woke up we were still traveling to Juneau. Hannah and I got up early so we could eat and then we went to a shopping lecture. John ended up coming to the shopping lecture so I jumped off to day 2 of the photo lecture (I am LOVING this). After the lecture we ATE. Yummy. We had jerk chicken, a big salad (best salad bar I have ever had on a ship), cheese burger, fresh pasta, pizza, and desert. Then it was time to watch the ship dock in Juneau. Hannah and I had a tour as soon as the ship docked so we hurried down to the pier. Our tour was late, but it was okay…you will see why later. John’s tour did not start until 3:30 So he had plenty of time to get to his.
Our tour took us to Auke Bay where we boarded a boat and began the search for whales. We spotted our first one in about 10 min. I was sad because I had not seen it and knew we were not getting our money back. That feeling did not last long, because soon I saw my first WILD whale. OMG, it was exactly as exhilarating as I had imagined. WOW…we saw the spray and then his back curving around and his fluke. It was amazing!!!!! We got very close to sea lions, eagles, and more humpbacks.

John went water rafting in a river. The mendelhal river. He had 10 people in his boat and the guide did all the rowing. He saw one eagle and rapids. Not to mention the icebergs and the glacier. The glacier is the only one in America that you can drive up to. He also took tons of video. I forgot to do that with the whales, I was just scouting out for more.


Day 4
Well here we are in Skagway. I did NOT have high expectations for a town that was only 10 blocks long. I expected terrible shopping and views. Was I wrong! Upon viewing the town you can see that it looks like a very old mining town (maybe from Colorado). The town’s buildings are old like the gold rush days and the sidewalks are wood planks. The train we took for our excursion was equally as wonderful. We boarded the train LATE but the train’s people made up for it in both information and sights. Our train was to travel up the mount to an elevation of 2,000 (I must get exact number) feet above sea level. The views were out of this world. We saw tons of waterfalls, granite rocks that weighed hundreds of tons, rivers, streams, cemetery, bridges, other trains, tunnels, our ship, glaciers, mountains, snow, and CANADA. Actually we were in Canada for a bit, but not allowed to vacate our train. The border is only marked by a tiny monument with flags from each nation. John was so excited to be in Can…he has always wanted to go there.

After the train, we went back into town for some shopping. I had found a coupon book in the room and just happened to go through it this morning. Yeah for me, bad for john cause I was about to spend him money. I got ammolite earrings (I have always wanted these), northern lights pendent and earrings (mystic topaz), sterling silver pendent of a forget-me-not, and a couple of charms for my Diamonds International bracelet (you get free charms at every DI around the world…I have lots from the Caribbean). We also went to this great store called Alaska T-shirt Company. (Hannah and I were there yesterday but did not realize the buys we could get). I got a t-shirt for 1.99, salad tongs (made Alaskan style) for 1.49, 10 postcards for 1.00 (I collect postcards you know), huckleberry gummies for 5.00, Hannah a tshirt for 4.99, and Trevor some pressed pennies. I love this store. We do not go to another of these stores…only have Ketchikan and Victoria left. Ketchikan has lots of totem poles I have read.

For supper I had a pork chop, Hannah has grilled chicken, and John had turkey. We ate in an American theme restaurant called Indigo (our first time here). It was good, but slow service, maybe because we were pulling out of port as we ate.

See you tomorrow as we cruise glacier bay.

glacier bay

Day 5 cruising glacier bay

There are No words to describe the region of the world where we are right now. We are surround by a vast ice field and mountains. The glaciers look blue, white, grey, and even black. The colors vary because of what the glaciers are made from. They are blue if they reflect a lot of light. They are black when they are mixed with rocks. You can see where they have melted and where they are now. Some are even expanding in size!!! And that is an amazing feat. We saw the Grand Pacific glacier and the Margeri glacier both of which are just massive. The Lamplugh glacier as you will see in my pictures was bluish in tint. Oh, I forgot about the ice field….the ice field was scattered all over the ocean…I love the bergs that we saw. I was however disappointed in how small the bergs were. I am still looking out for whales. I have been sitting in the front window of the ship all day (since about 9am). I am not giving up this spot for anything! I am hoping to see orcas…and that is why I even had John bring me my lunch because I was not getting up at all.
Maybe you will get more later as it is only 2pm my time. Right now I am going to call Trevor (if Granny will answer the phone). Bye

Posted by Michelle, 11:11 PM, Permalink

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06 January 2010

A surprise gift

I don't think I have ever told you that I have cruise fever. I am constantly looking, and honestly the day we got home from the Fantasy last month, I got a brochure on the Epic and started instantly looking for good prices on her. This was before Christmas and on Christmas day, my husband kept telling me that he did not have a present for me. I told him that it did not matter, he just took me on a cruise. Since he mentioned it no more, I thought it was no big deal. After all the gifts were opened and we had begun to clean up, he brought me a rolled up piece of paper that he had tied with a ribbon. I opened it and low and behold he had found a cruise to purchase for us to take in June. It was a cruise...we all know how I feel about that....but as I looked harder it was an Alaskan cruise!!!! We had wanted to go back to Alaska, we have said that many times, but honestly I was not sure if it would be a possibility. Here it was, John just handed me a reality. What a thrilling Christmas gift, from a wonderful husband.

Now, I get to think about the trip...to begin the packing lists (I need to tweak the one that I created in 08'). To plan the excursions (and save the money for them), and now that we know our way around the towns better, see the things that we wished we had seen the first time. Neither of us felt like we had much time in Juneau...so we have another chance. Of course, we also both have said the we want to do the same excursions that did last time in Juneau too...but this is the fun part before the trip. Planning what on what to do, and how to squeeze it in during the time allowed.

We are heading to the same places as last time, which again is a little bit of wonderful because every place was a gem...Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria...the only exception to the trip is that we will not go into the National Park (Glacier Bay). This time we will venture in Tracy Arm Fjord. Which is supposed to be spectacular, but we will see. The fjord features the twin Sawyer glaciers, which are known to calve alot, and of course that is what I am hoping for.

It is going to be great! Going to be spectacular! Thank you for such a wonderful gift that I will enjoy very much...well he will too!

For a review of our first Alaskan cruise please visit my old blog....


03 January 2010

Oh the places you will go....

I LOVE to travel...love to see the country/world. It started when I worked for a little company called Cracker Barrel. I was lucky enough to be a their traveling team, they paid ME to travel. However, they did work my butt off in the process, you were lucky to have one day off in a month and maybe a half day (a 9 hour shift instead of an 18 hour shift). But you know on that one day off (or half day) I made the most of it.

My first store was in Jeffersontown, KY...I had NO idea what to expect. No idea of the hours my new job would entail, and definitely no idea what it was like to share a room with a smoker...cough cough. I got to make a few side trips during my time off, I went to the Mall of St Matthews and thought I was big stuff because I got to go all by myself. I drove down to Elizabethtown one weekend to stay with my old preacher and his family (my dad met me there), and once I drove to Bowling Green to see John.

In Jacksonville Florida (this trip was a day and a half off because the store was not open yet), I drove down to Orlando and went to Disney World, not for the first time, but the first time by myself and it snowed in Orlando for the first time in many many years. The power went out and my cousin's dad, booked a hotel and then we got up the next day and went to WDW! It was nice to be in charge of what we were going to ride and what not. Oh, on that 1/2 day the day before, we did seaworld (my first trip).

Next Cracker Barrel sent me to Texas. God Bless Texas...I was so mad, my mom (yes I am still mad about it) told the company that I would fly down there. So 6 weeks in Dallas without a car!!! I got to drive by the Book depository, but did not get to see it...never got close to South Fork, did hit the hard rock on my 21st birthday, but had to bum rides, and walk to work across an interstate. That sucked big time. So I saw nothing here...NOTHING!!!

My next trip I totally made up for it...Round Rock Texas and I made the most of it...drove to Waco (the whole Janet Reno thing had just happened), San Antonio (river walk, SeaWorld, Alamo)...hung out all over Austin, whenever I could. Found a great used bookstore on Research Blvd, that I still think of to this day. Wonder if it is still there, Susan is it? I went to my first Hobby Lobby here in Austin...oh my I was hooked. I was driving all over looking for a Michaels and there was a Hobby Lobby near my hotel...duh. I enjoyed driving along the river bluff and seeing all the fancy houses and paying homage to the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue. I even ventured down to the famous (then...have no clue about now) 6th street and bought some BBQ...YUMMY!!!

Chicago was next...now this way happening...Sears Tower, John Hancock, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of science and industry, great restaurants (I feel in love with food on this trip), first super walmart, first super target, first driving in snow, first bronchitis, United Center, Cominsky Park, and first run in with the law over Wrigley Field, McCormick Place, Grant Park, Water Tower Place (began my love affair with malls), Lake Shore Drive, The Drake Hotel, Oprah's condo, my first submarine at the Science Museum, watching a movie on the side of the Field Museum, and getting lost under the "el"...good times. We had some celebrities to come in the store here..Flo Jo, some chick named Oprah, Scotty Pippen...and a few more basket ball players. Speaking of basketball, we got to go into the new bb arena where Michael Jordan would get to play. They were just building it and yeah, we ventured inside. We were a little brave this trip. I really wanted to see the ivy at Wrigley Field. Very badly...well, we parked in the lot and walked up to the stadium, there were these security bars that we "overlooked". We climbed inside and got out onto the field. UH, this is where is got bad, a cop came in and told us we had 30 seconds to get out of there, I don't think that I have ever moved so fast...NEVER!

Next was the lovely city of Cleveland. Now I was really in love...really really. Cedar Point, all those malls, Rock and Roll hall of fame...This was great...This was wonderful. I drove all the way to Lima to pick up to go cups for the store, just because I could, we did need them. Football hall of fame (bored to tears, went with the gang), Wynonna Judd (yep stayed next to us at our hotel), Bath and Body seaspray (I really stocked up) and Lake Erie.

I remember the last store the best because I really wanted to soak it all in...This was the last one, the last time I would travel and make the big bucks and it was in Virginia. I was so thrilled to be opening Newport News. I had big plans....to see William and Mary, and to get to DC! My friend Scott had been to DC so he knew how long it would take and how to get there. So here we go on our one day off for the month, we get up VERY VERY early and head to DC. I get to see Mananas (the first big stop) then as we are driving along I see it! OMG it was so exciting. I was in the front so I had a great seat. The first thing we did was buy a bus ticket. This ticket would take us to the sights, we have ONE day its really got to count. Scott was the leader but he let me pick the sights because I was the only one of the 4 that really really really wanted to go to DC. First Stop the White House. In pre 9/11 days, we got to walk onto the grounds, Scott drove up Pennsylvania avenue so I could see the whole house. We could not tour the house today, the line was forming but if we wanted to do the other things we had to move on. Next stop was the Washington Monument. We climbed all the way to the top and I took some photos with my crappy camera (however they turned out good--got to get those scanned). I told everyone the story of Zachary Taylor at the base of the monument, then we trudged on (yeah cause it was freezing, the ground was like ice and there was a threat of snow). I wanted to see the Jefferson Memorial....we walked all the way over there but it was closed due to the fact that Air Force One was was tearing it up....everytime Air Force One took off a chunk of the structure would break, so the best I could do was see it from afar (the only disappointment of the day). We next saw Arlington House and ate lunch while walking (no time to stop). At the Lincoln Memorial I got teary eyed...this was the best trip ever (I wished my parents had brought me here). Well, I was crossing the street near the Lincoln and hit at ice patch, fell down right in the street flat on my back and could not move for a bit. Finally, I was helped up a little dazed but determined to go on. My back hurt and my head hurt but I kept going. Arlington Cemetery was next. My first stop here was JFK and William Howard Taft. Second on my list was the Challenger spot and then I could relax and look around a bit. I bought 2 books on Presidents in the gift shop and then the bus was moving us to the next location. The CAPITAL!! WOW!! Mesmerizing was the word that I used. I could not stop looking at the architecture and the beauty of the design. Oh my, this was our last stop, we had a 4 hour drive, it was late and beginning to snow. It sleeted all the way back to Newport News, I slept Felicia thought I had a mild concussion from the fall, but we will never know. This was the greatest excursion of any of my Cracker Barrel trips what a way to go out....

02 January 2010


Got my photos of my last cruise back, just today. I was so excited that I greeted Gloria in the driveway (I knew what she was bringing since she pulled the mail truck up into the driveway). WOW! I used Winkflash...for the first time, and I can really see the things that we saw while in Mexico.

I wanted to talk a little about the ruins...for those of you that may go to Progresso, I recommend getting off the ship...Hit Los Cinco De Soles...uh, this is the same stuff you will find in Cozumel. The cruise will tell you it is not because this store does not pay the cruise line any money so they will not recommend them to the passengers. Don't buy much here, keep going through the shop to the little shops outside. There are vendors that sell hammocks CHEAP $15 here seems to be the going rate...but don't buy them yet!!! You can do better! Get you some vanilla or a ukulele if you want one...maybe a wind chime...then keep going. At the end of all the stores, there will be lots of guys selling tours. See you should not book them on the ship, this guy will sell you the same tour at a 2 for 1 price. Give him the money, get your bracelet and board a bus for the flea market. Now, you may buy your hammock $10! Purses that are hand made (very well made) $5, and silver (make sure it is real silver look for the .925 first) and all kinds of cheap t shirts. You will board your bus and head to Dziblichaltun. It's not a long bus ride and it is air conditioned. You will travel by little lakes...look inside there for you will see WILD pink flamingos. They are a sight to see in the wild. Through the ride you will see many great Mexican sites. I took tons of photos of signs, and even a water park. I really enjoyed the bus ride. The guide, Ivan kept it interesting by telling stories about hammocks and why they are so plentiful. Maybe if you ask nicely I will tell you.

Once you get to the ruins, your guide will have to get you a new ticket, this is all ready paid for by you so just wait. Please NOTE there can be NO video taking unless you pay extra. The guide did not know that I had planned on shooting video on my camera and did not tell me that, but I heard him tell someone with a camcorder this. We entered the ruins and saw some marvelous plants. My favorites were the flowers, all types, all colors.

The first magnificent sight that we saw was a giant wall. This wall was very tall, very steep, my first thoughts were "I want to climb that". Ivan made us sit for a lesson about the ruins. It was very informative, but I kept saying I wanted to climb that thing. After his talk he led us around a bend and there was the lovely cenote. This was a source of drinking water for the Mayans. It was so blue, and so refreshing looking. It was covered in lily pads and flowers. I just could not stop taking photos of it's majesty. Ivan invited us to take a swim and a couple of our group jumped right in. John took off his shoes and stuck his feet in. There were little fish inside and they started nibbling on his feet. It made a funny photo, with the blue water, his pale feet and those tiny fish.

Next Ivan led us to the exit, or so we thought. I ran ahead and climbed to the top of one of the giant walls, I could stand it NO more. John got my photo of me looking triumphant in my glory, "ha I did it and you said I could not"... Up there is was a LONG way down. The steps were very shallow and very steep. As I started my descent I got a little worried...How was I going to get down this with my big feet and now that I looked down I was tad dizzy? I just took it slow and walked sideways...seriously, my feet were way too big for the steps.

As I got to the bottom, Ivan was asking how many wanted to make the long trek to walk to the observatory. I had waited to see this...waited and waited. Actually, I did not think that we would get to go. It is a very cool place, and I was so glad that we went. Again, there are narrow (not as narrow but narrow) steps to the top and it is tall, but the view is outstanding and it is worth the climb in so many ways. In the Spring and the Winter on the equinox days, the sun will shine through the windows...we were about 10 days to early for this event. Oh well, we got to see it.

We next walked to the houses where the Mayans lived. They can withstand a hurricane, which fascinates me. When I visit an island here I always like to see the hurricane routes, the devastation from them and things that withstood hurricanes...Barbados was the most interesting...Maybe I will tell you why another day. The huts were poorly constructed to my eye, but again, they can withstand a hurricane so looks can be deceiving.

I would post a photo, but for some reason the blog will not allow photos, must be a windows 7 thing. I will look into it, or you can just go to my facebook page and see my photos...Note the cenote and the observatory