Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dinner for twelve

Before I go any further, I would like to introduce you to our dinner companions and our wait staff. Pictured at right on our first night are (l-r): Bill, Emily, Mario, Jenny & John. Mario is from Romania. He was our assistant waiter. He took care of making sure our wine glasses were always full, that our spot was nary a crumb, and that if we needed more water or bread he would provide. The first night at dinner, it was only the four of us. Then a couple sat down: Raymond & Cecelia. They are from Canada by way of Hong Kong. Then a few minutes later, another couple sat down, Michael & Carol. They were also from Canada by way of Hong Kong. The other four seats sat empty for two more nights. Then two young ladies showed up. They had missed the ship when it set sail out of Barcelona due to flight delays. Would you like to guess where they were from? Yup, Canada, by way of Asia. They actually changed seatings, so we only ran into them when walking around the ship.

Here we are pictured with Raymond and Cecelia. They were very nice and we enjoyed their dinner company very much.

The following night, Jenny, John, Bill and I went to Chops Grille, one of the two restaurants on the ship. We can't say we had good service and the food was only so-so. However, that night the mysterious couple came and ate dinner and they never showed up again! (we can only guess that they were Asian, however they were from California.)

Here Jenny and I are pictured with our waiter, Bernadeth. She is from the Philippines. She was awesome! Well, both of them were. They would do anything for us. We miss having them there to unfold our napkins in our laps every night. Yes, they spoiled us. They didn't want us doing anything. Bill often got his dessert taken away for cleaning his crumbs off from his spot! I would get two desserts. I don't know if I gained any weight or not. I go to the doctor next week. I'll let you know! I did weigh myself on the ship on Day 2, (and I wanted to bring that scale home with me!) so I have an idea. Of course that food poisoning "diet" before we left, really helped! We did walk a lot on the ship, two miles almost every day.

I digress, Bernadeth and Mario were amazing. They took excellent care of us. Mario finished his contract and went home to Romania. He has a girlfriend that he's going to get serious about, and Bernadeth will have two weeks off for Christmas. She has two children who are living with her mother, while she works.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back to Barcelona

Here we are. Back to Barcelona. After getting to our hotel in a death cab ride, we found that our room was not ready. So we took several walks around Barcelona. The city has beautiful avenues, it reminded me of Savannah. We found ourselves close enough to see the towers of la familia Sagrada. We hiked a few more blocks until there it was stretching out into the sky in front of us. I was amazed. Bill said, "take your pictures." We did not walk around it to see the original side. This is the new side, that a new architect has been designing. (Honestly, I had hoped we go on a tour later on, but that didn't happen).

Gaudi, the first architect, took his designs from nature, but more specifically the water.

The next building we walked to from our hotel was much closer. This is la casa Batllo. You can see the sea forms much better in this building.

This is the room we stayed in. It was very nice except for the incredibly hard bed. Hard, like the Flintstones. A rock of a bed. Not comfortable at all. One night and my hips were aching. Thankfully the bed on the ship was very comfortable. Our room overlooked a courtyard. On Monday morning, after breakfast, after our trip to the Post office (we mastered the Barcelona post office), before the bus came to take us to the ship; we enjoyed the school children playing at recess below our window.

Because of the courtyard we could not hear any traffic from the street. The best way to describe the courtyard is to say it had several layers. Across from us was a Catholic church, obviously there was a school. The futball court and basketball courts were on one level. One level up were the trees, one more up to the left (out of the frame) were balconies off of apartments. There was also one level down, which you can just see at the bottom left of the picture. Perhaps it went down to our hotel? We don't know.

We were able to take the bus with Jenny & John to the ship. There were lines like at ticket counters in the airport, but they had a lot of agents working and we did not have to wait long (at least in my memory). The rest I summed up in the post from the other day. Now I will go forward, starting in Day 2, Villefranche, France.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I thought I was ready to start posting pictures and stories from our trip. I managed to post about Barcelona, but then later when I was thinking about it and telling the stories to my mom, I realized I left out some fun things. I am going to think about this more and begin posting about our trip with a little more detail, more pictures, and hopefully more interest! I am also pausing because I am STILL uploading photos to Walgreens. Oie. It has been a lengthy process. Did I mention I can only upload twelve photos at a time? yup. I am also pausing a moment because I am trying to learn the upgraded software program for work. It has changed significantly and I'm very surprised that Cate made the move to upgrade. Now I must learn how to use this program, basically, all over again. (She hadn't upgraded since the late 1990's, we were only about 25 upgrades behind...)

For now, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving weekend, and I hope you have much to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Saturday, November 3rd
Here we are in the Detroit Airport, waiting to board our flight to Amsterdam. We were fresh and dapper and excited! Then we flew across the Atlantic Ocean. I watched three movies, and did not sleep. We, luckily, arrived early in Amsterdam. We had about an hour and a half to get through the passport check and find our flight to Barcelona. I set off the alarm when we passed through security. I got frisked! We made it to our gate with about ten minutes to spare. We boarded the next flight and made it to Barcelona!

Sunday, November 4th
This is what we looked like after no sleep, and getting to the hotel only to find out that our room wasn't ready. We started walking around. We found la Sagrada Familia (a church by Gaudi). We had espresso, and spent a lot of time waiting for our room to be ready.

This is a picture looking towards the mountains, the sea is behind me (although we were a few blocks away and you couldn't actually see it). We finally got into our room, took naps, woke up and found Jenny and John. We ventured out to find a tapas restaurant which wasn't too difficult in Spain!

Monday, November 5th
We boarded our home for the next twelve days. The Brilliance of the Seas! We ate lunch in the Windjammer cafe. Ordered wine packages to go with our dinners. Then while we waited for our rooms to be opened and our luggage to arrive we explored the ship. I actually didn't take many pictures of the ship itself. I was preserving space on the camera! (just to let you know, by the end of the trip I only had 59 pictures left!)

Back on dry land

We made it back. There is much to share! I have over 600 pictures... so um, it may be awhile before I get them on here (no, not all 600). I was loading them into Walgreens last night so I can print them and our internet went down. I plan on working on that again tonight. I will also post a few pictures so you can see the beginnings of our trip. Travel-wise, everything was very smooth for us (not so for our friends Jenny & John. They're still waiting for one piece of luggage). Of course the flights were very long, but at least on the cross-Atlantic flight we had video screens. (thank goodness, my last trans-atlantic was ten years ago and they didn't have those then!) I watched; "Hairspray", "The Mask", and "Dodgeball" on the way over and "Cars" on the way back.

Our favorite saying became, "I'm done!" It referenced many different things, mostly being done with stupid people (like the woman who stopped in the middle of the cafe to take a sip of her coffee, right in front of John who plowed into her). Unfortunately we kept "running" into those people. I can't tell you how many times we took the stairs several flights to avoid the elevators and the people who only went up one floor. We got our exercise!

Our weather was fantastic. It only rained one day, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. We heard the cruise before ours had rain everyday. We lucked out. It actually rained in Santorini too, but we were already on the boat. Every one of our guides mentioned global warming. It was a bit disconcerting to me to hear how much it is effecting the entire world. *

I will start at the beginning in the next blog and go from there!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

*Editor's note: I realize that global means the entire world. What I mean by this is how much it is in the news everywhere, just like it is here in the U.S. It is not merely a story being talked about locally, but is a serious concern and is being just as recognized everywhere, as it were, globally.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bon Voyage!

I'll be back in a few weeks. I'll have stories and plenty of pictures to share. I am so excited!!! I got a pedicure on Thursday for the cruise. I was able to cross off that as one of the things on my list of 30 things to do for my 30th birthday. The countdown is getting closer. And now for the fun part, for your reading pleasure here is our schedule (say it like shedule all British-like)

the Sailing Itinerary:

Date Port

Nov. 5 Barcelona, Spain
Nov. 6 Nice, France
Nov. 7 Florence/Pisa, Italy
Nov. 8 Naples, Italy
Nov. 9 Cruising
Nov. 10 Venice, Italy
Nov. 11 Venice, Italy
Nov. 12 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Nov. 13 Cruising
Nov. 14 Santorini, Greece
Nov. 15 Athens, Greece
Nov. 16 Cruising
Nov. 17 Rome

Bon Voyage!