My site was hacked. Rather than attempting to fix the problem and overwhelm myself, I left it new post free these past months. Thanks to my friend Roland, who fixed it 100 times faster than I ever could, it’s now a healthy site. There are a few broken links throughout, but those can wait and this would be a good time to give my blog a refreshed look, but before I do so, I wanted to let you guys know what I’ve been up to since the Caribbean cruise last November.
Like a mighty river, 2013 is passing by rapidly. In May, I took a girls’ only trip to New Orleans to celebrate a good friend’s bachelorette/stagette. I can’t wait to share photos and my thoughts on the city in a later post.
Early June, I finally got my ass to Alaska, a destination that’s been on my list for years, even before I started working at the agency.
Later the same month, I returned to Hamilton, Ontario to see my brother marry his long-time love.Being very close to the wine region and with no other obligations after the wedding was over, we took this opportunity to do a wine tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a renowned wine region in Ontario.
I’ll be writing about the wineries we visited and what sets each apart. I’ll also share how I planned this tour without the assistance of a tour company.
I went to Hamilton, Ontario yet again this summer. In July, my dear friend officially united with her lover. It was extra exciting for me as I was in the wedding party! A post on travelling to see family and friends is definitely in order.
Anyways, I’ve rambled on enough. I just wanted to let you know I’m still here. Don’t have any plans to leave North America this year, but who knows what the future has in store! Enjoy the rest of your summer!
I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of a cruise vacation, but as with other modes of travel, there are drawbacks to cruising.
What do I not like about it?
First, you don’t stay in one place too long. In fact, only a few hours. Those few hours, though are enough for me to decide whether I want to go back to that city. And the ship acts as my mode of transportation, quite a comfy and entertaining one might I add, to the next destination. You wake up in a different city the next day. Really, you’re getting a taste, a sample of what an area of the world is like. So, although the limited time and not being able to stay overnight is a con, it’s also a pro because what if you HATE the place you decide to visit for a few days and you paid for a few days’ stay, then well, you’re SOOL.
Second, the threat of sea sickness. Until my last cruise in November, which was my fourth cruise total, I never had a bout of sea sickness. Unfortunately, my friend Shannon did not feel well off and on when we were onboard. Poor girl. Some people are just more prone to the motion of the ocean. Fortunately, only a small percentage of the population are susceptible to this. And if you fear you’ll experience symptons, then you can take preventative measures and there are remedies, natural and over-the-counter meds. I took Gravol the second last day, took a nap and I was quite fine the rest of the time.
Oh, I also don’t like that the cruise ends so quickly. But that’s what happens when you’re having fun. Time just flies by!
Like with other types of travel, it’s what you get out of it that makes it great and if you go into it knowing what to expect, then there won’t be disappointments. Aside from the two mentioned above, there’s nothing else I don’t like about cruising. I think it’s one of the best ways to see the world; it obviously is not the only way. I love to travel by car, by train, by bicycle, by plane! Take me somewhere new and I’m a happy gal.
Now your turn, if you haven’t travelled by cruise ship, what is it that you think you won’t like? If you have cruised, what are some things you don’t like about it?
Sometimes, your very own backyard amazes you. A couple of weeks ago, I brought a friend from Brazil to Grouse Mountain and introduced him to snowshoeing. Grouse Mountain is a 15 minute drive from downtown Vancouver.
Most of the time, we were hiking in silence. It was so quiet. So quiet, I was in a meditative like state.
You know that feeling you get when you’re surrounded by nature and realize that not much has changed in that very location from centuries prior? Very similar to the feeling I get when exploring an ancient site, imagining how things were hundreds of years ago. That sense of awe that starts to overwhelm you. I felt this way snowshoeing in the alpine, in the serenity.
Seriously, awesome. Amazing.
It was a great exercise day, too. We were basically hiking, putting to work muscles we don’t normally use since we were in snowshoes, and for almost 3 hours at that.
By the end, I was exhausted, beat! Climbing hills, sliding down; I felt like a little kid again, jumping into untouched snowbanks.
I will always remember the look on my friend’s face and the amazement in his eyes when we reached the top of Grouse. He’s from Brazil on a visa for a few months and had never seen snow prior to his time in Vancouver. Sometimes I take the beauty around me every day for granted. This day was a great reminder.
It was actually pretty mild in the city of Vancouver, raining in fact and no snow in sight downtown. So, when we saw a Winter Wonderland, it was like we had driven for miles. The change in scenery was breathtaking.
The urge to travel often wants to take you far from home, to discover a different world from your everyday. Sometimes though, your very own backyard can do just that.
Happy 2013! The holidays were crazy busy! After I got back from my cruise, there was one thing after another, party after party. I absolutely love the holidays. Everyone is busy living and loving life.
This year, I don’t have plans to travel too far. With two weddings to attend in Ontario and a close gf’s bachelorette/stagette party I just cannot miss (I’m a bridesmaid, again!), I’ll be staying in North America, probably.
Just before Christmas, the bf and I headed to Seattle for a weekend to shop, indulge in pizza we always have when we’re in town, and to watch the last Seahawks home game.
Seattleites love their football! The atmosphere, jovial and only falls short of what I experienced when the Winter Olympics were in Vancouver three years ago. Seattle won! Hi fives were going around left and right, front and back. Love it!
A highlight of our visit was getting an unexpected ride in the western world’s version of the rickshaw, the pedicab.
What great fun, eh? Greener Cab call themselves Seattle’s premier pedicab service. I think this is cool, especially with music blaring. The helmet David wears is pretty awesome. If this service was in Vancouver, I’d use it, if it’s not raining. I’ll probably give Greener Cab a call next time I’m in town… and if it’s not raining. Yeah, it rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest, but that’s what makes this part of the world so damn gorgeous.
You can find photos of Greener Cab in action on their Facebook page. They offer wedding service, too. What do you think of the idea? Would this take off in the city you live in?
Those of you who said you wanted to join, but didn’t: You missed out.
I cannot emphasize enough how much fun we had. Even Shannon, who experienced bouts of sea sickness throughout the cruise, had a friggin’ amazing time. How many people can say this? Right? You know what a sign of a mutha f#!@’n good time is? Lack of photos to show such.
I’m notorious for taking tons of photos, but I forget about pulling out the camera when I’m in deep into funness. Yeah, I just made up that noun. I did conscientiously remind myself though that I should be documenting this better for the blog. That’s something I need to improve on for 2013, especially if I want to improve this personal blogging thing.
We started in Fort Lauderdale and ended the cruise there as well. Our itinerary included:
I was a bit worried Reet and Shannon who had never cruised before (and honestly would not have considered cruising this early in their lives anyway) may not enjoy the cruise experience. I had no reason to worry! We met lots of people, were always busy on the ship and did so much at each port (except Princess Cays).
Three of us were in a balcony room, mid ship, deck 11. Shannon experienced motion sickness the whole time. Despite this, she still had a blast, but I don’t think she’ll be going on another cruise any time soon. If you’ve never seen a room that accommodates more than 2, here’s what the bed looks like.
The bed comes out of the ceiling. When you leave the room for the day, the room steward puts the upper bed against the wall (as seen in the picture) and in the evening when he makes up the room again, he pulls it out.
Day 1 – At the sail away party, all we saw were couples and families. Reet said that she could see her and hubby really enjoying the cruise. That night, we went to Skywalkers and met our new friends! Hi Breandan, Hilary (aka Britney), Zack and Paola! All of us love to dance and love to party.
Day 2 – Princess Cays. So glad we slept in this day because Princess Cays was blah, blah, and more blah. We returned to the ship hours before we had to get back on. It was day at the beach, drinking beer and exploring little there is to see.
Day 3 – Sea Day. Reet and I did the wine tasting, which was enjoyable. The wine was nothing to write home about. Shannon, who isn’t much of a wine drinker, decided to sunbathe instead with a couple of other friends we met onboard.
Day 4 – St Maarten. This is the day I lost my voice. We walked around Philipsburg. It was a nice, but we wanted to see Marigot which is supposed to be like France in the Caribbean. By the time we decided to go to Marigot (1pm), we were advised by one of the shop owners that we should leave now and won’t have too much time to spend in Marigot (We had to board the ship at 5 pm). There is only one road to the French side and traffic would’ve been horrendous coming back according to him. When I return, I would head to Marigot first and then work my way back to Philipsburg. There’s not much in Philipsburg, except shops and beach.
After touring the shops and pretending we were going to buy jewelry (one shop lured us in by giving a Heineken just for browsing), we decided to grab lunch and hang out at the beach.
At the beach is when I lost my voice. We went on a banana boat, attached to a jet ski. We fell off the banana boat twice, and I’d do it again for only $15 per person!
Day 5 – St Thomas USVI. This was an amazing day. We did a 2 hr taxi tour for $25 each. We shared the taxi with 4 other cruise passengers. The driver/guide brought us to the top of the island where we served with breathtaking views!
Our first stop was Mountain Top, the highest point in St Thomas. We had to try their “world famous” banana daiquiri. Worked out well because it cured our hangover.
USVI used to belong to Denmark, and thatâ€™s why they drive on the left side of the street here!We then spent the rest of our time at a beach. When you leave the cruise terminal here, youâ€™ll see signs to get a taxi/shop. All the prices are clearly shown, ie how much it is to get downtown, to the beach, tour, etc.
Day 6 -Grand Turk. We went horseback riding for $60 per person per hour. Our guide was telling us how there are only 3500 on that island and Shannon who works at Ryerson said, “Then you must know Demarco.”
Shannon works at the Ryerson registration office for international students and he was a student there. He graduated in June and they lost touch, until this day! Our guide called his friend who is cousins with Demarco and 10 mins later, he arrives.
Demarco played our private guide and chauffeur for the remainder of our time on the island.
Day 7 – At Sea. The first time I’ve experienced sea sickness and this was my 4th cruise. I didn’t do much. I did attend a wine tasting on my own, sat with people from Buffalo. We chatted hockey and football before the official tasting began.
Reet went to hang out on the deck and Shannon went to watch a movie at the theatre. I tried to fight my nausea in bed after the wine tasting and passed out.
Although we travelled together, we separated ways often on the ship during daylight hours. Shannon had lots of fun playing trivia, joining a team of two guys, Team Awesome. She came back saying we HAVE to join her next time. We had planned to, but then other activities got in the way. Shannon, although experienced motion sickness, loved cruising and all that you can do onboard. Poor girl though refuses to step foot on another cruise ship in the foreseeable future.
Karaoke was tons of fun (you get to pick a winner at the end) and so was just people watching.
All three of us love to dance, so every night after dinner, we’d go dancing and it didn’t matter if nobody was on the dance floor, we danced anyway and we would dance the night away. The next day was always hard getting up, but we’d say, “Sleep is for the weak!” My feet were swollen by the end of trip.
There were lots of families onboard, a good chunk of people in their 20s and early 30s. Met a handful of Canadians. The good majority were from the US. Lots of young couples, too who were on their first cruise.
Crew – We loved our waiters we had the first night. They treated me and my friends so well. They were personable and joked with us. We dined in their area every night we could! Our room steward was always so pleasant, too.
There’s already talk amongst our Ruby friends on Facebook about another trip. If it’s going to contain even the slightest elements of this trip, I wouldn’t miss it. Thanks to Reet and Shannon for making this one of the best adventures, ever! Who ever said a cruise in the Caribbean is supposed to be relaxing certainly does not travel like us.
I’d like to end this post with a dedication to Shannon, for toughing it out in the name of fun. LOOOOVE you!