Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I know I know  . . . you're waiting for more Cruise recaps but I'm going to go back to food for a moment.

I love food, I love food with friends and food with family - food with friends who become like family is triple-riffic! So thats what this weekend was. We had people over Friday night for Taco Salad Friday and then we did a cook out tonight for memorial Day. Its sad to say but this is one thing the Florida could learn from a northern state, how to celebrate summer holidays! Maybe because its so hot out or maybe because most people don't have immediate family around but holidays are lost here. When I think back to Memorial Day, Labor Day and 4th of July they remind me of the out doors and cook outs and relaxing but here these days seem to come and go with no fan fair at all. We refuse to let that happen in our house and tirelessly try to bring our traditions here . . one day they will stick! So we filled our stomaches remembering those who have fought for our freedom. Those who have searve along with those serving as we eat! With out their service, dedication and sacrifice we would not be where we are today enjoying life as we know it! So say a prayer for them, find a way to thank them and have a bite on their behalf!

Being that we would have people over I took the opportunity to start the birthday celebration for the Hubs. Balloons and cake made an appearance. So began the Birthday Bonanza . . . to be continued tomorrow!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Toulon France

We planned to give ourselves a slow first day. Aix-en Provence was what the Cruise called this stop but what they fail to mention is that the port and listed destination are often times quite a distance from each other. I did a lot of research on all of our destinations and while Provence is supposed to be a great place to see old time France there was nothing that I felt I HAD to see there so we planned to spend our time exploring the port town of Toulon.

When we got off the ship we took a 30 minute walk toward town only to happen upon a bus stop that told us that we were not exactly in Toulon, we had to catch a bus there. Thanks to a very nice French man we found which bus and were on our way to Toulon.
Once we were where we wanted to be we set off to find Mount Faron. Through my research I found that there was a tram car that would take you to the top of this mountain that had a zoo and offered great views. We found a lot of signs but as we walked and walked we didn’t seem to be making any progress. 

We stopped a few people and asked for some help but this was not a big tourist town and we didn’t encounter anyone who spoke a lick of English, needless to say it was a little confusing and comical. We walked and walked and walked some more . . . (did I tell you that I had the brilliant idea to bring brand new flip flops on our trip and then wore them on my Barcelona trek up and over and down the bridge to the ship only to score some great blisters?) Well yes its true so walking up and up and up the mountain looking for the tram was not exactly fun but we were determined.  After an hour or so of walking we finally found the tram. We bought our tickets and crammed into the tram car with some other people from our ship that had the fantastic idea to catch a taxi up the mountain. Once we started up the mountain I knew it was worth our trek. The view was breath taking and as we continue to go up the views just got better.  Getting off the tram we just took a while to take it all in. The view of the port was amazing.  Then the view of the village on the other side of the mountain was just as beautiful. The raw natural beauty of the land was over whelming.  We wandered around and took a ton of pictures before making our way to the tram to go back down the mountain.

W e got on the tram with another group from our ship only to hear that they took a ferry from the port into Toulon and paid half of what we did for an all inclusive ticket for the ferry that included unlimited bus rides AND the cost of the tram. *sigh* Oh well - I had planned the cost of it all and we were prepared but the bargain hunter in me hates when I find out I missed a deal!
The walk down the mountain was much more enjoyable. We stopped along the way at a food stand and split an amazing panini. We saw one being made and ordered one of the same - it was similar to a hamburger French fries and chick fil a sauce sandwich. I also ordered a tart.  I’ll give France major points as their food was great.

We took our time meandering around Toulon the rest of the afternoon before catching the Ferry back to the ship. After all that walking we didn’t feel guilty for gorging on all the amazing food offered on the cruise! We even had a little friend waiting for us when we went to bed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Barcelona Spain

Barcelona was the city I was most excited to see. We bought a travel book and I was amazed at the history and sights. It was portrayed to be a city of personality. We arrived Saturday morning and hailed a cab to our hotel. We settled in, freshened up, grabbed the camera and out the door we went happy that Jet lag hadn't set in!

We headed to La Rambla the most popular street. It is lined with street venders and entertainers. We walked along and found ourselves surrounded by “tourists” . We were just one more set of foreigners among the crowd. It was similar to time square. So many people squished into a small space, not very authentic being that it was very tourist-centric. It was still fun and entertaining, a good place to experience but nothing that wowed me.

We then heeded to Barri Gothic – a section of the city with great architecture. The buildings and alleys were breath taking. It’s amazing that there are so many old buildings that maintained their originality and beauty throughout the years, ancient history in the midst of everyday life.  It was very impressive.  This is where we stopped for dinner. We went to a tapas place and tried many “interesting” dishes.  Some prawns, duck and back rice . .  . Which turned out to be rice in squid ink.  Thankfully I was not aware of what black rice was before I tasted it. It had a strong flavor that was not bad but too flavorful for me to really dig in. Glad to have 
tried it but not something I’d want to order again.

We then headed to La Sagrada Familia which would be the largest Cathedral if it is ever completed. Construction began in 1882 and is still not complete. The original architect spent 4 decades working on it and left no plans to finish it but expected it to take several generations to complete

About this time it started to rain but I was determined to see “Fount Magica” a fountain that coordinates music and lights for a quite entertaining experience (youtube it!) we searched and searched and got a little lost but we got back on track as the rain got harder.  We finally located it only to not be allowed in! I’m not exactly sure why but the park was closed off and security would not let us in. Back to the hotel we went to dry out and grab some Z’s.

The next morning we woke up and thought we’d head to the ship to drop off our luggage and spend the few hours before we set sail wandering Barcelona some more . . . .but it turned out we had to trek come 50 miles pulling and pushing our luggage up over a bridge and then back down before finally making it to the ship 2 hours later . . . needless to say once we got on board we stayed put!

And so the Journey begins

Our cruise was truly a dream come true. Everyone talks about places they want to go and things they want to see but those are usually dreams that are just that . . dreams. I realize how fortunate I am to see so many of my dreams turn into reality.  I attribute this to my wonderful husband who turns our thoughts and dreams into realistic steps. He is the planner and organizer and it still amazes me that we have been able to do and see so many things!

While the cruise afforded us to see so many places it was a very busy time. We hit the ground running and haven’t stopped to process or recover from it all. I worked 6 days straight before we left and tomorrow is my first day off in a while that will truly a day off. I'll do my best to post more pictures and get blogs ready as I plan to post one location a day.

Thanks to my Blog I can share our experience with our family and friends scattered throughout the US. It will also be my time to reflect on every place we went individually and my attempt to remember every aspect of our trip, to have it to look back on.

Our journey began on Thursday; we both woke up early and headed out to work. We had completely packed the night before and just had a mere 8 hour shift to survive before VACATION! Once we both go home we packed up the car and headed to my parents to drop off my baby as they so graciously offered to puppy sit for us! 

We spent the night there, woke up bright and early and the trip officially began. We had a 3 hour drive to Miami and took a little longer than expected thanks to a flipped car on Alligator Alley that caused bumper to bumper traffic. Once we made it through we headed to airport parking only to wait 45 minute for the shuttle bus . . . what took so long? Who knows – but once we made it into the airport we were home free and ready for our 9 hour flight. We settled in and thanks for a Tylenol PM I slept pretty good and was ready to see the sights of Barcelona!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter Food Fest

Just because I haven't been cooking does not mean I haven't been eating! I've been eating well. Wish I had take more pictures but it seems I was so busy stuffing my face that I neglected my blogg.

Just to prove it  here are are few of my favorite's from the last few weeks

With my wonderful Second set of parents ( I dont like the name "in-laws" theres too much negative assocated with the term  and I love them too much so until I come up with one better this is what I'll use) came the following

Gram's potica *sigh* there just arent words, you need to taste and experience this goodness to understand (sorry no pictures because theres none left - it didn't last long!)

 The first night here we went to "Bosphorus" a Turkish restaurant here in Orlando - lavish bread is A-to the-Mazing. Hummus, buba ganoush, grape leaves, Lamb chicken and beef .  . . *sigh* Oh So Good!

 Easter brought us to Sarasota - where my parents joined us for dinner. Originally we had planned to go to the place we held our wedding reception but when we called to make reservations they answered the phone with a new name and when we asked they told us new people had bought it and changed the name! So sad! Instead we went to another place we considered holding our wedding which has the most amazing pina colada bread *sigh* Oh So Good!

While in Sarasota we went to "Columbia" a restaurant we went to in St Augistine during my Bday weekend. Arroz Con Pollo - which takes 45 mins to make but is so worth the wait - the flavor is Oh So Good!

 We also made a Pizza run once back in Orlando at our Fav Pizza place - and brought Ari along!

Last but certianly not least we made our anual trip to Ali Baba - Iranian buffet which is all you can eat and is once again say it with me Oh So Good! I love that I can try all the dishes and go back for MORE!

Needless to say I am not looking forward to weighing my self tomorrow morning and counting caleries again - Im on a two week diet before the next food fest begins!