December 08, 2008

It would be helpful if I could read.

sometimes I just get so mad at myself. today's brunch was a perfect example of that. Mom and I and a group of ladies she works with were at A Southern Season's resturant, The Weathervane for brunch. Now, I love The Weathervane for lunch and dinner, but sometimes Brunch can be too fancy for me. Plus, all the yummy things for Brunch are so not good for you. But I realize brunch doesn't have to be breakfast, and can in fact be yummy even if it is fancy food, and more lunch in nature, so I was OK with this. We get there, and are in the Board Room (a private room for 10-12 people) and have a lovely time planned. We have lots of laughs, a good waitress, and a great time all around.

Until I get my food. I am still trying to be very careful of what I eat, so i thought, OK, I'll get something without a lot of cheese, or sauce, or anything really fattening (but the fattening part is what makes it oh so good). So I see on the menu, Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. I think, PERFECT! I love eggs Benedict, I am growing to like salmon, this will be filling, healthy (if I ask for the sauce on the side and egg whites rather than eggs). Great, I'll get that.

Except I hate smoked Salmon. and I read it as Smoked Salmon, but just pictured in my head Grilled salmon. Which would have been great. because it would have been warm and yummy. But smoked salmon is cold and kinda...soft...in texture. And not so yummy to me. And my egg whites were kinda undercooked, so they were very runny. And cold. So my great thought for breakfast was really not so great and I have no one to blame but myself.

Mom was right when she said I should have just ordered what I wanted. (Fried Green Tomatoes & Cheddar Cheese Eggs scrambled with country ham and topped with Choron sauce)

September 10, 2008

Last Blog about paris

Friday October 1st. 2005

This morning we went to the Louvre ( Le Grande Louvre). It is absolutely amazing. I think it´s the biggest museum I have ever seen in my life. HUGE!! We took the subway there and to my great joy, the guide book was right and we entered thru the underground station, which meant no long lines to get in thru the piramide entrance. Granddad and I had doughnuts, moka´s and juice for breakfast, then we headed inside to see what we could see. We started in the Denon wing, and made our way thru hundreds of statues and paintings, until we were in the same wing as Venus de Milo. We looked at that, and then found our way to Winged Victory, and then to The Mona Lisa, and a lot of other paintings. It was amazing, but partly because everything was soooooo crowded.

After about 3 hours of culture, neither of us could take it anymore, so we left and headed to the Place De Concorde and the obilisk and the Eglise de Madeline. It was very cool. We also saw Maxim´s and while we looked at the menu, I cannot justify 20 euros for a sandwich. We then began our walk up Champs-Elysee, and had a wonderful little lunch in a place called Le Berkley, where I am sure we were the only americans within miles, but oh well. I don´t think the waitstaff was particulary pleased with our style, but oh well, we were not behaving like pigs. We had tomato-pumpkin soup and sesame chicken and it was very good, although this was the slowest meal I think I have ever had. Then we saw the Arc de Triumphe, and Place Charles De Gaul(?) which in Granddads first trip to Paris was Place de Etiole. My how things change! We had a good time though, looking at all the shops and stores and I wished I had more money so I could buy the things in those stores. Oh well, someday!

Then headed home and rested a little, then made our way back to the Eiffel Tower and took a night boat cruise on the Sienne. And saw the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkling!! We got on the boat without having to wait much at all, and it was a good tour, although by the end I was freezing cold. But it was worth it!

Then we went back to the resturante we had eaten at our first night, and had more of the very good soup and another salad. While we were sitting there, we saw a few rollerbladers in the street. We were sitting next to the window, and I was facing what would be considered up the street, so I would see the traffic coming. I was commenting to granddad that I didn´t understand why the french felt the need to be in the street all the time, when I looked up and saw a huge rush of people rollerblading. I swear there must have been at least 200 people in the street, and it took about 10 minutes for everyone to go past. It was funny. Then we finished up and headed home to sleep, because we had had a long day!

My first trip to Paris...part 2

Saturday, October 2nd. 2005

Ahh, Paris! This morning my granddad and I woke up late, and because we really had nothing we had to do, we took our time having breakfast! We went to Cafe de la Paix, where he and my grandmother ate 50 years ago, and we had croissants, hot chocolate and orange juice, although it was much more expensive than in Granddad´s day. But worth it

Then we headed to Sainte Chappell, the other little church on the same island as Notre Dame, and it was amazing. There are over 1000 stained glass window-stories depicting the bible. It is absolutley amazing.Everyone should go!

Then we went to the store, Samartiane, for the view, because it is a view of paris that you don´t have to pay for. We split a chicken sandwich and some cafe Richard, which turns out, I think is just a brand of coffee, because it was plain espresso, but yummy nevertheless. And we had fun looking at the department store, even though things there were wayyyyyyyy too expensive for me.

Then we headed to the other store, Galleries Lefaytte, and had better luck with the shopping, not to mention, saw part of a fashion show, and then we went and had another little snack (Granddad and I ate a lot on this trip, in case you couldn´t tell) and some great wine, and another great view, and lots of time just talking. Then headed home to rest.

THEN:::we went to our last dinner in Paris, and it was a great as I could have hoped for. We went to the resturante Chez Max and had a perfect meal. The menu was set for 23 euros, but it included appitizers, entree, wine, bread and dessert. And the food was excellent. I had chevre with toasted almonds and steak with pepper sauce and frenchfries and lime sherbert with vodka, and granddad had a vegatable soup, and beef with a burgandy gravy sauce and vanilla ice cream for dessert. YUM YUM YUM!!! And the wine was good.

Then we walked home and packed and went to bed to get up early and catch our plane to Barcelona. And then we headed to Málaga and then to Granada. It was a long day of traveling on SUNDAY, but it was one of the best trips I´ve ever had. Someone once told me to go to paris with my lover (as if I had one of those) but I think it was a better trip to go with my granddaddy!

My first trip to Paris...warning very long posts ahead.

*disclaimer*
this is actually verbatem from my blog that I kept while I was living in Spain. it's exactly as i wrote it 3 years ago, complete with misspellings and everything. It's also just like me, random and funny!

There are lots of things to tell, so this blog is really part of a multi-update about what we did while we were there. This is Wednesday the 29th and Thursday the 30th . And this is awarning to everyone, especially you French speakers: I don´t speak French, I can´t write in French, I can´t spell in French. If anything is mispelled, deal with it.

Wednesday night. We had a brief scare in Málaga, when it said our plane was delayed an hour, but we only had an hour to change planes in Madrid. But it turned out to be a false alarm, and we had plently of time in Madrid!! Arrived in Paris at Orly airport, and it was soo cool, you could see the Eiffel tower all lit up as we landed. I was sooo excited-I think granddad was too, but he was tired I know. Traveling, while good, is a tiring activity. But we arrived, and made it to our hotel without any problems.

We checked in, had a nice room then went out to grab a little dinner, as we had not eaten much on the plane. We went to a resturant right up the street from our hotel named Porte Montmartre. It was open 24h and we sat inside. We each had a bowl of the de-lish-ous onion soup, and split a salad with hot chevre cheese(my favorite in the world!!) and walnuts, and to drink we each had a little carafe of wine, him, Bordeaux, me, something I can´t spell, it was like Beaujoulix or something. And I tell you, I have no idea why there are so many letters on words that no one pronounces....it confuses me......

After our wonderful meal we decided to walk a little bit and explore out neighborhood. we ended up walking to the Place d´Opera and seeing the Cafe de la Paix, which is where he and my grandmother ate almost 50 years ago. Then we made our way to our hotel, and slept.

Thursday. Started out early, and made our way to a cafe near the hotel to have breakfast. We had 2 cafe au lait, bread and butter and jus d´orange.Very good!! Then we hit the subway (metro) system and found our way to Notre Dame cathedral which is where we planned to start our day.

It was free to get it, so we went in and looked around, I lit a candle for my family (as I always do) and then looked around more. It is just undescibable. I love seeing churches like it, because it really makes me wonder about the awe people must have felt when there wasn´t this huge "is there a god question"- they accepted and the churches were so ornate and lovely that they had to believe, how could one not with the paintings and stained glass and everything? LOVED IT!!!

Then we left and walked thru the gardens to the left bank of the river, where we began walking toward the Eiffle Tower, hoping to find the hotel granddad stayed in years ago. On the way we stopped and looked at the wares the street vendors sold, and bought some postcards and other photos. We made out way almost to the Quai de Orsay when we both had to find a place to go to the bathroom, and were starting to get hungry. So we found this little resturant called Le Concorde, and had a salad with chiekn and potatoes and corn and cheese and carrots and cafe au lait to drink, and then the best creme brulee in the world.

We think we found the building that was the hotel, but now it appears to be an apartment building. I guess things change in 50 years.

Then we finished headed toward the Eiffle tower. When we got there, it was just amazing, so we decided to go on to the top and see it. The view is amazing. Granddad took lots of picutres and then we slowly made our way down again, and we went on a boat river cruise and had a nice little tour of the Sienne and the buildings on either side.

We then made our way to the Musee D´Orsay and looked at my favorite artiste: Monet, Degas, Renior, Manet and others I can´t remember. It was great!! We saw sculptures and paintings, and had a nice little snack in the cafe there, me a goffre with ice cream, gdad a bowl of fig and honey ice cream and gingerbread. YUM!!We went back to the hotel to freshen up and tried to find this resturant out guide book had suggested. Didn´t work,( long time to find it, not interested in the menu it had,) so we finally sat down in some other cafe and had another lovely meal. The soup, again, a salad and we split a club sandwich. And, of course, more wine. Yum yum yum!!! Then home and we slept, because we were very tired from our first full day.I love Paris, it is great!! I will update later the next days, but this is the first bit of adventure--everyone should go to Paris!

September 08, 2008

A story from Greece...

When I was spending a semester abroad in Spain, I got an invitation to tag along with my best friend Mina on her trip to Greece over the summer. Hellooo Greece!

We had a great time, and came back with a ton of stories. But there was something that happened on Andros that has stuck with me through the years and makes me laugh every time I think about it. I learned many things from my trip abroad, but in Greece, I learned what Fresh Seafood really means.

Andros is a sleepy island with 2 cities, and a lot of hospitality. It’s the perfect unknown place to get away. After our trips to Crete and Santorini, this was a great way to relax before heading off to the sweltering heat of Athens. The air is clean and the beaches on Andros are beautiful. They have crystal clear water, soft white sand and hot guys; everything you could ask for in paradise.
We spent our days in paradise eating, sunbathing, napping, the only responsibility we had was to repeat this cycle daily. The beach we visited daily was in a cove, and there were great big rocks at the upper most part that just begged for sunbathing. One afternoon Mina and I decided to hike down the hill to these rocks and claim them for our own. What a great idea! We were totally alone; our own private island. We sunbathed and laughed; enjoying being alone. Occasionally some brave guy would swim out and talk to us for a bit. I always was amazed at how the guys in Greece were so bold and would tell you everything they knew about America. But one guy had a different idea of how to impress us.

One thing I learned about Greece is that fishing is a big deal there, especially on the islands. By my second week, I understood that walking through any market in Greece you were sure to see fresh caught seafood. Mina even explained to me that we would probably end up eating somewhere that had literally caught our meal that morning. That was ok, this is a different culture and a different lifestyle and I was all about fitting in. So it was no surprise when we saw a guy snorkeling out into the water and diving to collect fish, urchins and other tasty delicacies.
What a surprise it was though when he popped up from underneath one of our rocks with an octopus! He climbed out of the water on to our rocks and nodded to us, as if to say “Hello beautiful American ladies, I have searched high and low and now have this great gift to offer you. Isn’t it lovely?” and proceeded to…how do I put this delicately…smash the ever living daylights out of the octopus on the rocks to kill and tenderize it. He must have spent 10 minutes picking the octopus up and then throwing it down against the rocks again, just to make sure it was good and dead. All of a sudden our serene little island was no longer quiet and relaxing, but reeked of fish and the thud-thud-thud of tenderizing an octopus.

Mina and I were stunned. Horrified didn’t even begin to describe how we felt and we didn’t know what to say or do. We kept looking at each other hoping he would stop and leave us and our rocky paradise alone. But he kept at it until he was sure that this octopus was going to be the tenderest octopus he had ever caught. He caught us looking at him, and he smiled. He motioned to the Taverna on the edge of the beach letting us know that that’s where this fresh octopus would be should we desire to come and share lunch with him. With that he dove in, catch and all and swam away, stopping just once to wave us goodbye.

I looked at Mina and she just shrugged, and we burst into laughter. What else can you do when you are in Greece on a sundrenched island and see lunch caught and killed before you? You order the salad at lunch!

September 02, 2008

Daytona or Bust

This weekend I made my second trip to Daytona Beach in FL. R and I went for his cousin's wedding, and it was a family reunion/wedding in one!

Friday after work we got in my little Hyundai Tiberon and drove to Yadkinville, where we unloaded my car into his parent's car and hit I-77 south. We drove through the night, stopping once in Savannah at a Waffle House to get a little food, a little gas and go to the bathroom. Then R took the wheel and drove us to Daytona! We arrived at his grandparents house a little after 6 am, and R and I immediately crashed on the sofas. At around 8 his mother woke him up with a phone call from his cousin's children, and we had our morning start. We were able to check into our hotel (Plaza Resort and Spa) and then headed down the street to the volleyball game at the Hilton.

From there it was family family family. Good thing I like them all! We headed back to his aunt's house for a cookout, and then back to the hotel for a nap before the rehearsal dinner. R's cousin is very organized, and we really had nothing to worry about except when to show up! Everything about the rehearsal was in our hotel (which is why we picked it) And it was all lovely. We had a slide show/movie about the happy couple, and then open bar and lots of food! Then the younger set headed up to the bar upstairs and continued partying throughout the night! We danced, drank and had a good time!

A word now about our hotel...it was nice in terms of convenience, but that was about it. Actually, I take that back. The lobby, the restaurant, and all the rooms we used were nice...except the actual rooms we were staying in. Everyone I know from the wedding party had some problem with their room. We had a ridiculously loud air conditioner that didn't keep the room from being muggy/humid, and mold spots growing on the carpet near the air conditioner. They didn't come to do a room cleaning until about 5 in the afternoon, the sheets were not soft, but rather scratchy. I don't feel that we got the value we paid for.

We woke up at a reasonable hour, and went to help out with the last minute decorating. We helped and then were offered brunch...which is where everything went downhill. For some reason we opted to leave the hotel with its perfectly good all you can eat buffet for $10 and go somewhere else. I suggested IHOP right across the street, but when we found out it had a 45 minute wait, we decided to head somewhere else. This should have been easy, except no one wanted to make plans. One person wanted to head away from the beach/touristy area, and find something to eat elsewhere, but every place we tried had a long wait (what, Sunday at 11 on Labor Day weekend is busy?!?) and by the time we got seated and had started eating, we could have been done at the IHOP.

Grr.

Then we headed back to the hotel to change and go hang out on a boat for a while. That was tons of fun! We went with some of R's cousin's and just relaxed for an hour. When we got back to the hotel it was time to start getting ready for the wedding, and then head off.

The wedding was beautiful. B and W seemed so happy to be getting married, and everyone looked lovely. We then loaded back on the bus and went back to the hotel for the cocktail hour and reception, both of which were very nice. There was a mashed potato bar at the reception, which I had never seen, but liked! B dedicated her wedding bouquet to her grandmother who had been married for 65 years, and the toasts were moving. It was fun dancing and hanging out until we were kicked out and then crashed!

Monday we woke up, got breakfast (at the aforementioned restaurant in the hotel) and then hit the road. And almost 12 hours later I fell into my bed and fell asleep.

Good weekend, but man it is good to get home!

August 26, 2008

january 3 2004

I'm here. Though at this moment I'm not sure exactly what to do, I'm here. I am not nervous, though I am sure that will come  and my 2 fears so far did not happen, I got my suitcase and made it here all in one piece.  So really everything seems to be fine. 

But I am lost as to what to do. I don't really want to leave the hotel room and explore on my own, but I know I should.  Maybe I'll sleep some first and then explore when I am more sure I am not tired. I think it's kind of survival instinct now that is keeping me awake because I know I did not sleep very  much on the plane. Tomorrow the adventure really begins, and I think that will ease any fears i have that have yet to surface.

Madrid is like no city I've been to so far and if I make it out of the room I cannot imagine what I will find.
***
8 hours later

After sleeping longer than I really intended, I got up and took a walk around my surroundings.I found a nice amount of Tapas bars  (all crowded, which is good I suppose) and relatively close to my hotel.

I also found things that made me smile, like a Pizza Hut a few blocks away, not to mention  a Burger King and a McDonald's. I found a store that sells Pantene and Garnier and Listerine and Tampax, and it's silly how much I feel this to be a relief. I know they are just things, and trivial at that, but it was good to know that were some familiar objects that I could grasp onto should I need it.

Madrid is a really busy city, but it seems friendly enough, though perhaps old. I can tell right now I am a little uneasy because I did not want to appear the tourist, and therefore did not stop and stare as much as I would have liked. But I think once I meet up with my group things will be much better.

There are parks and plazas, there is even a courtyard outside my room though no way to get there, so I suppose it is for looks only. But it is pretty. 

I walked past a little park that had a playground all fenced in.  And it seems here that rather than have divisions between sidewalk and street everything is sidewalk until a car come along.  But at least I went out a little bit.  I'm not sure if I am uncomfortable being here, or if I am just uncomfortable being this alone, but so far I am not sure why I decided to do this in the first place...oh yeah, I was running from something...but now I can't remember what. Perhaps (and I hope ) I will change my mind after I meet someone-anyone-and my group.  
Up next on the Blog front...a few excerpts from my trip to Spain in 2004-2005

August 23, 2008

Seattle again!


We got off the boat ad about 9:30 am, and unpleasantly spent the next hour trying to find the shuttle that we had pre-paid for and pre-arranged to take us to the Double-Tree we were staying at. Grr is about all I can say to that, but we finally got to our hotel, and checked in.


Since I am fairly certain I will not be back in Seattle anytime soon, after we dropped our stuff off, mom and I decided to go to downtown and see Pike Place market, and have lunch before getting ready for the red eye home. (mom is flying out Sunday to spend a week in San Fran with D and T).
We did, and had a great time. We saw them throwing fish, walked around very impressed with all the flowers and fruit and fish and stuff! and I bought a bag to pack for the trip home so I wouldn't have to pay the ridiculous amount it costs if your bag is over weight. I knew mine would be after this trip, and could buy a second bag for 12 bucks.
We then went to a very nice restaurant at Pier 66 (http://www.anthonys.com/) and watched the NCL ship load. we then took a walk back to Pike Place, grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel, where I took a nap, had room service dinner and a shower, and packed my two bags. By 7:15 we were headed to the airport, and we were all checked in by 8:30. (by all I mean me, granddad, M, P and G.) We had dinner at an Airport pub, and got to our gate in plenty of time. while we were waiting to board, P saw a friend of his from school, and M got very excited by the British Cub scouts we saw.
We boarded the plane, I took 2 NyQuil and 2 Simply sleep and woke up in Charlotte!
Where we booked it from terminal A to terminal E only to wait an extra 30-40 minutes while they tried to get volunteers to give up their seats, since the flight was over booked. Finally we walked out on the runway, boarded our itty bitty plane, and 45 minutes later landed at RDU.
Home sweet home.

Day Eight: Victoria!

We spent the first 2/3 of the day at sea, though this was probably my worst day. I knew yesterday that I was going to have a cold, and sure enough when I woke up this morning my throat was sore, I had a headache and I was exhausted. Mom and I enjoyed another room service breakfast and then, we both fell back asleep. We re-awoke at around 11 and this was just enough time to go hang out in the spa before my last acupuncture session. Which is just what we did. Honestly, we were completely lazy until about 4:30 when we decided to go to the Crows nest bar and watch the boat dock in Victoria. Mom and I didn't have any excursions planned, so we watched the docking process, and then leisurely made our way to the dock, grabbed a cab and headed to downtown Victoria.

We got let off at the Empress Hotel (http://www.fairmont.com/empress/) and began to wander around the city. We saw a ton of lovely flowers, and understood immediately why Victoria is called the flower capital of the world...there were beautiful flowers everywhere. I'd never seen some of them before, and never seen so many Hyacinth in all sorts of blue-purple-pink combinations. Simply beautiful.

We then headed up Government St just to window shop, and we cam across Bastion Square, and a great little restaurant, appropriately called Wharfside. We sat overlook the wharf, and had a great meal. I had Irish stew and Honey Soy wings (hoping the hot would make my nose un-stuff and my sinuses clear. It didn't.)

So after dinner we got directions to a London Drugs and I bought all sorts of cold medicine, and that did make my feel better. We then returned to Government St and did some window shopping ans some real shopping. We got back to our boat by 10:30 and just enjoyed the evening, started packing our things, and went to bed shortly after we left Victoria after midnight.

Tomorrow, back to Seattle for the day before the red eye home!

Day 7: Ketchikan (ketchikan't)

Yes, that's my lame joke, and man did I use it, and it's many variations as much as possible. (Ketchicrab, ketchican't ketchicold...)

Mom and I were the only ones who scheduled an excursion in Ketchikan, but it was the one I was most excited about. We went...Crabbing! I think the technical name was something like "Crab feast and Misty Fjords tour" but whatever!
We got off the boat super early, and got on our bus to head to George's Inlet Lodge, where we boarded a boat (the smallest we'd been on so far) and went to pull some crab pots. As we were in route to our final destination, we were treated to great trivia and knowledge of the Misty Fjords/Tongass National Forest. The water we were in at the deepest point was 1300 ft. I was really impressed with how much each tour guide seemed to know, on each excursion, and also how much they seemed to like their jobs. Everyone really seemed be be here because they loved it.

We got to where the crab pots were, and our guide pulled them up; in the first pot (which is really a basket) there were at least 6 crabs. He then explained which ones would be legally acceptable to keep (males, 6.5 inches or larger only) and which ones we would have to throw back. He even offered to let anyone who wanted to hold one do so. I did not want to hold one, because I don't really like the idea of getting pinched. But I took lots of photos, and will upload them asap.

We moved on the the second pot, and in it there were more crabs, and a flounder. OMG! We threw it overboard quickly, and then investigated more of the crabs. We headed back to the lodge where a crab feast had been prepared for us!

Granted, it was like, 10 in the morning, and I am usually not interested in all you can eat crab legs at that hour, but this was an exception. and some of the best crab I've ever had. We had one crab each, and then they offered us refills. I passed, because I was stuffed! We also had a contest as to how tall you could make your crab shells. Our table (we were seated with a very nice couple from Washington state) was very clever, and asked if the bowl of crab shells could be elevated...it could, so we did! Jim was a great sport and balanced the bowl of shells on his head while standing in a chair, and we won! We didn't actually win anything but it was lots of fun. We then hastily departed and got back on the boat about 15 minutes before it left.

At 3 pm we went to the Indonesian Tea ceremony and had traditional pastries and teas from Indonesia, then mom and I headed to the hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite. (I love spa's, and this was a great one!)

Tonight we are headed to the 5 star restaurant aboard ship, and then the Chocolate extravaganza. tomorrow is Victoria BC, and then our trip is over :(

I'll just Sit-ka here for a while...




in the rain. Seriously, it started raining when we were in Juneau, and I don't think it's stopped since. We now understand why Alaska is a very green state. Because it rains all.the.time.

anyway, we have another shore excursion planned today in Sitka, this one with the whole family. We're doing a sea otter/wildlife quest tour thing. Basically, it's get off our HUGE ship and get on a much smaller ship and go look for wildlife! YAY!!

We board our catamaran and set off in search of sea otters and other assorted wildlife. Boy do we find it. We see a ton of bald eagles, sea otters, jelly fish, (yes, in Alaska), a black tailed deer, more sea otters, a few porpoises, and a whale. Yeah, that's right, another humpback whale. This one was super close to the boat and we had some great views of its tail. Sadly, it was raining pretty constantly and pretty heavily, so my photos and videos are much fewer, and not great, but I'll post what I can, when I can. I'm glad the whole family was on this trip (even if P and G fell asleep).

My camera is great, and I am very glad I made the investment and bought a video camera, but one little problem is, it can't quite figure out what to focus on, so a lot of my pictures are GREAT of the raindrops on the window, and not much else. One thing that struck me as funny is one of the crew was constantly outsider squeegeeing the windows! I also really liked that the served us hot chocolate or coffee and little pastries, so we could stay warm and not starve!

After our 3 hour tour (and yes, mom and I sang the Gilligan's Island theme song just about anytime anyone commented on it being a 3 hour tour) we disembarked at the dock and mom and I set out to see the Russian Orthodox Church and get some lunch. We went to the church (very easy to find, as it's literally in the middle of the road) stopped by a bookstore, asked about a place to get lunch, then went to said place and...got lunch. Mom and I ordered the same thing: A cup of the tomato basil soup, which came with a huge piece of dill bread, and the rice and beans. Both items were very tasty, especially in the rain. I also purchased some crystallized ginger, just in case the boat was rocking and rolling again. We headed back to the tenders to get back to the boat, and were on our veranda a little before 4. We kept watching float planes take off!

Tonight is the Master Chef dinner, and I honestly have no clue what that will be. We're meeting before hand to have drinks.

***
Ok, the Master Chef dinner is code for FUN!! We got to our table, and each person had a chef's hat to put on. The menu was great, and the entertainment was just what you would expect. They had two of the singers from the entertainment staff that sang a few songs for our amuse bouche (sp) and salad course, and dessert. Great fun, and I think P and G really got a kick out of our waiter juggling.

Hubbard Glacier-Day five


Today we get to see the Hubbard Glacier!

for someone who doesn't like the cold that much, I'm totally loving all the glacier and iceberg
sightings!
this is a "day at sea" but really we're at the Hubbard Glacier/Yukatet Bay. Mom and I woke up really early (even with our drapes closed, once the sun rises, we really couldn't sleep past about 7, so we went for a walk on the promenade deck again, and saw some beautiful views of the Gulf of Alaska, and I don't know what else. we had breakfast, and by about 10 were headed into the Hubbard Glacier area. I really must pay more attention to where we're headed, but I was just so amazed at the scenery that I tuned everything else out. We headed up to deck 10 along with the rest of the fam, and started watching for the glacier. Being that this was a cruise, of course we had our drinks in hand, but also had split pea soup served at noon. This is a Dutch tradition, I don't know if just for the glacier, or for any sailing; either way, I like it! We took loads of pictures, and the boat slowed down to a crawl to pick its way through the various ice bergs (yes, really) to get us close to the glacier.

The water out at sea had been pretty blue, but the closer we got to the glacier, it turned a milky green (caused by the pressure from the glacier crushing the land below, i think) We saw
lots of bits break off the glacier; called calving, I think) and heard what the Tlingit (pronounced Klinket) tribe call "white thunder"; the thunderous roar of the glacier breaking apart. It was amazing. the glacier was so blue in some places, white in others, and to me, the best part was you could see different lines running through it, much like lines in rock denoting the many years of sediment (or what
ever it is in ice). It was amazing. The boat slowly swung around so the other side could get a good look at the glacier, and we were then presented with a completely different glacier to look at, separated by some bit of land.

Then the real fun started, G had complained about not feeling well, but was urged to come up to lunch with the rest of us. Not a good idea, because she did, and then got quite ill, and had to be taken to the ships doctor for an anti-nausea medicine. She was quarantined to the room for the rest of the day, though mom and gdad suspected it was just over-indulgence.
Once we left the glacier headed to Sitka, the waves and wind picked up, and we were rocking a lot. Mom and I tried to rest some, but even my acupuncture wasn't making the rolling disappear. We headed down to dinner around 7 with granddad and T, and I must admit, the soup, coke and being much lower helped immensely. I felt way better; good enough to purchase an after dinner drink with a collectible shot glass. D joined us too, but didn't eat much, and he and T went back to the room shortly thereafter.

Mom, Granddad and I went to the Philippine Crew show, which was a riot. Seriously, some of the funniest stuff I've ever seen in my life. The had songs (sung by the crew, and I admit, the singers were very talented) but what made it so funny was there apparently aren't enough women for the paring for the dances. So what did they do...dressed the males as woman and made them dance. The costumes for the dancers (the men as women) consisted of skirts and tops, stuffed with oranges to make them more feminine. And when they bent over, the oranges would fall out and roll across the stage...
But it was great to see how much pride the crew took in putting this show together, and was great fun to watch.

After this we went to bed, where I watched Gone with the Wind, and Rocky, because I
couldn't get to sleep thanks to the rolling of the boat. it was not my favorite time on the ship, and I kept thinking..."Am i going to have to get dressed and go down to deck 2? I hope not". I finally fell asleep around 4 am, and we had to get off the boat around 8 or so...so I was very tired the next day.

You guessed it...Day Four.

Juneau!

When we woke up this morning we were surrounded by mountains, and it was much colder. As mom and I were deciding what to do (since we woke up at about 7:30 and were going to meet everyone for breakfast at 8:30 or 9, we didn't order room service this morning.) So we walked up to the Lido deck and just had coffee, and watched the incredible scenery go by. It really was amazing. We saw a glacier just *there* on the side of a mountain, and we saw a few little ice bergs in the water.

We all met for breakfast, and I had my first breakfast buffet on the Lido deck. Can i just say that nothing brings people together like the word "buffet". I swear everyone on board was at the buffet! I had a create-your-own-omelette's, (with spinach, tomato, mushroom and bacon) a side of bacon and a mini waffle with some GREAT berry compote on it. I didn't eat everything, but I could have!

This is Juneau from our veranda.

Since our excursion from the boat left before anyone else had an excursion, after breakfast mom and I headed back to our room to get ready for Whale watching and the Mendenhall Glacier hike. We were off the boat by 10:45 and on our way soon thereafter. Our guide informed us that we were going to get to go Whale Watching first, and then to the Glacier, and then if we wanted he would drop us off downtown. We took the 20 or so minute drive to the Auk
e Bay (auke is a native word, meaning bay or lake, so technically the name of the bay is Bay Bay) and boarded our catamaran.

WOW. This is truly one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life. We headed out into open sea (OK, not really, we could always see land) and within about 12 minutes were seeing the spray from the humpback whales. We must have seen 6-8 humpbacks in the first 30 minutes, and it just got better from there. We saw one breech (jump totally out of the water-and dang it, i didn't get it on camera. I do think in the video I shot for it you can actually hear me going "damnit! i missed it"), we saw them bubble net feed, we saw them do their signature dive where they show you their tales. We saw them all around the boat, in groups of 2-3 (which is very rare, since humpback's are solitary animals. It was amazing. I was so excited, since I've loved humpback whales since I was a small child.

One thing I was very impressed about is how much our guide knew. She was a font of knowledge, and I seriously think the only questions she didn't know
the answers to were ones where no one knows. She was great! She was just as enthusiastic as the rest of the boat, and I am sure this is not the first time she had ever seen whales. You could tell she loved her job, and I appreciate that in a person.

I could spend a lot of time detailing everything we saw, but I'm working on editing my videos and putting them on youtube, so you too can see it instead. I'll just list what we saw and move on to the rest of our trip in Juneau.

We also saw Stellar Sea Lions, porpoises, eagles, ravens, Orcas and a sea otter. We passed by Admiral Island, where there are more bears than people, and learned that a woman had been mauled the day before (for doing exactly what you're NOT supposed to do when you encounter a bear.) Mom and I would have been happy if this is all our excursion had included, but we still got to go to the Mendenhall Glacier!

We docked and re boarded our bus, with our friendly bus driver Bob, and he starts telling us about bears in Alaska. I think people must really not understand that bears are wild animals, because he had story after story of people who had not paid attention to the rules, had not done what they were supposed to, and in the end, been mauled or killed by bears. He warned us " DO NOT take any food with you when you get off the bus. The gift shop doesn't even sell bottled water. The glacier is in a national park, and being such, has wildlife. This includes bears." He then proceeded to warn us, quite seriously, of what you should and should not do if you encounter a bear.

We got off at a stream about 1000 feet from
where the optimal viewing of the glacier is, and followed a nature trail to see the sockeye salmon jump. I'm going to copy what my mother says about the stream: "These fish are huge, and brilliantly red! There was a half eaten one off on the shore; a quiet reminder that bears are very close by in the neighborhood." we were very lucky that we got to see the salmon run, and I was really amazed at how big they were in the little stream.

Then we headed off to see the glacier. By this point in the day, it had started to rain a little, but that didn't stop us. We followed the trail, and all of a sudden, you could see the glacier. it was huge, and blue. the water in front of it was dotted with ice bergs, and we saw a few people in kayaks (another excursion choice) headed toward it. Awesome is about the best word I can think to describe it. At the shore line I found
a piece of ice about the size of a baseball and picked it up to show mom. It was absolutely crystal clear, which just amazed me. No dirt, no grime, who knows what part of the glacier it came from or when it fell off and melted down to this size.

We finally decided we were wet enough to go inside, so we visited the gift shop and headed back to the bus...where our bus driver told us of the 2 bears he had just seen in the parking lot! They had come out of the woods, and just lumbered across the parking lot. A group of cyclists all jumped off their bikes to get pictures, and all the bus drivers had to stop them from getting too close. Um, guys, these are BEARS. Not teddy bears, not Pooh-Bear, real life
brown bears that will chase and eat you just because they can. STAY AWAY from them


We got dropped off in downtown, and headed to The Twisted Fish, a place mom had a recommendation on. We had a great meal, though by this time, I think any meal wold have been great, as we were starving, and did a little souvenir shopping. We then headed back to the boat, and relaxed the rest of the night.

August 22, 2008

Day Three

Before I blog any further, I have to admit that I spent a good deal of time going back and forth, because while this is day 3 of my trip, it's day 2 of the cruise, and I was confusing myself... I decided to stay with the theme of the days in the trip.Mom and I woke up to a knock on the door proclaiming "Room Service" One thing I love about cruising is that room service is included...and breakfast room service is especially nice. HAL does offer a little bit more on the menu (such as eggs and breakfast meat) than Carnival does, but honestly they both are basic breakfast choices.


We sat on our veranda and watched nothing go by but ocean. Occasionally we would see some seaweed or a porpoise, but for the most part, nothing. It is amazing to realize that there is still so much untamed out there, so
much land and water and air...I can always take a moment
and appreciate that the world really is huge and we humans are a very small part of it.

Mom and Granddad and I go to the Promenade deck for a walk, and enjoy a nice walk, constantly commenting on how beautiful the scenery is, and laughing at the fact that there is a cruise ship that has been following us since our departure from Seattle (turns out this ship does the same exact trip we do, just different cruise line, so we see it all week. And can I just say, this is a frigging' huge ship.)

After our walk, we get a call from T w
ho invites us to: BINGO. Not one to pass on
much of anything, mom and I decided to go! We get to bingo, and had a great time. None of us won, but part of the fun was in the playing! After that Mom and I went to Pilates (gotta keep exercising) and then I had my first acupuncture treatment. It was amazing. I felt so energized and relaxed, and she had given me something for the slight bit of motion sickness I had, and now I felt nothing. I swear since that day I did not feel the ship move, save for the night there were 20 foot waves outside, but I can't expect miracles!

After acupuncture, we all get ready in our finery (tonight's a formal night) and meet at the Ocean bar for a pre-dinner drink. P discovered that there are Mocktails on this trip, and became addicted to the "Not-a-Cosmo" I had a mojito and it was good!
We then went to the dining room for our 8 pm reservations (a note about HAL, and my personal opinion. HAL does not have scheduled dining like other cruise lines, and personally, I do not like the "At your service dining". I prefer having the same waitstaff every night, knowing when you can show up and get a meal rather than wait and possibly have to be split up. But that's just me. However, HAL does offer the option to make reservations, and after the first night we agreed that this would be the best idea for all involved, so we could count on a time.)

We had a lovely dinner; I had shrimp cocktail, Alaskan King Crab legs, and Crepes Suzette for dessert. After that we went to the captains toast, where we got to meet the captain, some of his senior staff and got free champagne! then off to bed where a stingray awaited us! Vacationing is hard work!

Day Two

"WE GET ON A CRUISE SHIP TODAY!!"! was my first thought upon waking, and I have to admit, I was very excited. I've traveled before but this was something totally new.

Mom and I went downstairs to breakfast at Andaluca again (Steel Cut Scottish Oats topped with bananas, berries, currants, brown sugar, milk on the side) and then went in search of a few things we'd forgotten for our trip...double sided tape, allergy medicine and Dramamine. We couldn't have found a better location in Seattle, because seriously, everything was right there at the hotel.

Go back upstairs, do our 27th check of everything, and call a cab. HAL here we come!


We get to the cruise terminal, and the usual craziness of traveling with 7 other people ensues, but we quickly check in and at 11:30 board our ship!! I have decided to carry my luggage on the ship, but what's nice about HAL is they let us leave it in one of the bars while we go to the Lido deck and have lunch. After lunch we wander around the ship until our staterooms are ready, and at 1 pm we go to our staterooms! Mom and I unpack quickly and then sit out on our *balcony* to watch what's going on on the pier.

The last thing we do before we leave Seattle is have the life boat drill, and then go to the very very top of the boat and watch the ship sale out of Puget Sound.

Seattle is beautiful, but I can't wait for Alaska.

This evening we have our first dinner in the Vista dining room, and it was not to be missed! I had an acupuncture consultation in the middle of dinner, but was assured it would only take 10-15 minutes. I slipped out after salads and before entrees and was back in time to enjoy my roasted lamb over garlic mashed potatoes. (and I had made an appointment for acupuncture, but more on that later)

I had the poached peach rice cloud for dessert, and it reminded me a lot of rice pudding with a peach flavor. All in all, very good.

Once we all headed back to our staterooms, mom began to feel a little seasick, since she is particularly aware of any motion, but she was finally able to fall asleep. and when we woke up: mountains on each side, and then eventually...nothing but ocean.

Welcome to One Gal's Guide...

Where one gal has one mission: to blog about every place she's ever traveled and share her stories with you. I'm your host, your blogger, your OneGal.

Here's the first entry from my recent cruise to Seattle and Alaska.

Today started at an ungodly hour of 5:30 am. When we got to the airport it took us about 30 seconds to check in, but I hate that now airlines charge you to check baggage. If it’s a a discount airline I understand, but in terms of a real airline, I think it’s a load to charge you for your bags. Luckily mine was under the 50 lb limit, but just barely. (48.5 pounds whew!).

One of the things I love about traveling is that once you get into an airport, it’s like time stops being divided into day and night, and is its own special breed of time. Go to a restaurant at 7 am or 7 pm and you have the same selection. In other cities I’ve traveled people can be seen drinking beer at 6 am. It’s amazing how once you cross that security checkpoint threshold, time loses all meaning really. The only time that matters is the time you have between your flights.


Two uneventful flights later we landed in Seattle.

We took cabs to our hotel,(http://www.mayflowerpark.com/) dropped our stuff off at our room and freshened up a little, then went downstairs to the bar to get lunch. Upon entering the bar, we were informed that children were not allowed, and so, we exited quickly, at which point I asked the concierge where could we go eat. He pointed us in the direction of a GREAT Italian place (http://www.ilfornaio.com/) We were given a complimentary buschetta for being out of town customers to the restaurant (Bruschetta

Pomodoro-Grilled Il Fornaio ciabatta bread rubbed with garlic, marinated chopped tomatoes basil and kalamata olives ) which was some of the best tasting bruschetta I've ever had. I had the minestrone soup and a fantastic salad (Insalata della Casa-Chopped salad of romaine, radicchio, cannelloni beans, avocado, tomato and cucumber with Gorgonzola dressing).

We were all too full for dessert, but not to full to walk to the Space needle. It was about…8 blocks maybe? I really didn’t count since I was constantly looking left and right and just admiring the area. We walked past a Glass Blowing Studio, and the pieces on display in the window were amazing. I wanted to go and see the demonstration and look at the gallery, but we didn’t have time. We followed the monorail system, even though it was under maintenance for that time. Part of what was so cool was we could see the Space Needle for pretty much the

whole walk. We got there and found the entrance, purchased our tickets and in 90 seconds were overlooking Seattle on a beautiful mostly sunny day. Honestly I lost track of how long we spent up

there because the views were just amazing. We did partake in a toast at the top and celebrated Granddad’s birthday early.

We headed back to the hotel (after a mandatory stop in the gift shop), and got a phone call from D and T that they would meet us for dinner later that evening. We decided to go to the restaurant in the hotel, Andaluca.

We met for dinner, and had a great time. Andaluca specializes in Andalucan cuisine. (YAY!) We split our orders according to family; Mom and I had (direct from the menu) Grilled Asperagus (maldon salt, luis herrera extra virgin olive oil), Marinated Manchego (vine tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, pan fried baguette, luis herrera extra virgin olive oil) Mushroom ala Greque (garlic, lemon, oregano, rosemary) and a Mini Crab Tower (dungeness crab, avocado, palm hearts, gazpacho salsa). We also had tastes of the paella from D and T and each had a drink with our meal. I had a Raspberry mojito, and it was GOOD!

We invited everyone upstairs to our room and presented everyone with the Cruise T-Shirts Mom and I had made.

Then we walked D and T back to their hotel, admired the plushness of the "W" (I swiped the very cool square pen) walked back to our hotel and went to bed!