Traveling: Happy 63rd birthday, Papa! From Roma with love.

On June 30, my dad’s 63rd birthday, Kurt and I fittingly spend it in Rome. We sleep to about 10:30am, then get on the hour train to Rome from Civitvecchia around noon. After a brief period of not being able to find the hotel (I stupidly forget to print out our reservation and have no idea where it is located), I use my limited Italian to ask a shop owner if she knows where it is. Luckily, I happen to remember the name of the hotel, Hotel Everest, and they are able to give us directions to it. We knew it is right by the train station Roma Termini, but there are about 100 hotels around it. Our hotel is extremely hard to find in the fact that it has no big outdoor sign, and is actually only on the 3rd floor of a multi-floor building, where every floor is a different hotel. Confusing!

Continue reading

Traveling: A tower that leans

First things first…Italy beat Germany! It was glorious. Balotelli scored the only two goals, but in the last 4 minutes of the game, Germany was able to kick in a penalty kick. Luckily, they weren’t able to score again, and Italy won 2-1. July 1st is the final EURO 2012 match between Spain and Italy. Everyone is betting on Spain, but Italy defied everyone’s expectations thus far, I know they can do it again!

Balotelli after scoring the 2nd goal against Germany in the EURO 2012

Balotelli after scoring the 2nd goal against Germany in the EURO 2012

Continue reading

Traveling: The smell of lavender surrounds us…

Today our port is Marseilles, France. Having gone to bed at 8:30pm last night and having some jet lag, I wake up at 3am wide awake this morning. Finally, after some serious Angry Birds, I take a shower around 5:30am, then Kurt and I go get breakfast. Our excursion to Avignon meets at 6:45am, so we have plenty of time for cereal, pancakes, bagels, and egg sandwiches. At around 7:30am, we are on the bus, on our way to Châteauneuf-du-Pape & Avignon to see the Palais des Papes.

Continue reading

Traveling: Carnival Breeze, our Mediterranean home

We made it! After a very long (9 hour) plane ride, during which I might have received around 3 hours of sleep (and poor Kurt didn’t sleep at all) we arrived in Barcelona right after 9am this morning. The airport is stunning, with lots of open space and made almost of all glass. There is even courtyards outside to relax. We easily make it through customs and get our luggage, then quickly find the Carnival cruise transfer to the pier. I am very pleased at how easy and smooth everything is, and our bus ride to the pier is less than 20 minutes. Although the airport is on the coast, and obviously so is the pier, the way there is pretty much through an industrial area. So we didn’t get to see much of Barcelona, but we’ll remedy that in 12 days when we come back!

Spain from the Plane

Spain from the Plane

The ship itself is humongous. We are on deck 7 in an inside room. We immediately come into our room at 11:30am when we board the ship and I go to sleep. Little did we know, we are not supposed to be in here yet! We kind of sneak around the Carnival people and go up the elevators…well, the cleaning crew starts freaking out and knocking on the door. I am already asleep and Kurt tells them so, but they insist on taking our ice bucket to sanitize it. Never did get it back yet…but that’s okay, I did get another 3 hours of sleep!

Carnival Breeze dinner table at Blush

Carnival Breeze dinner table at Blush

After our safety drill, we semi-explore the ship. It truly is a beautiful ship, and so many people are enjoying it already. Somehow, our dining reservations get screwed up. We are supposed to have late dining at 8:15pm, but on our sail and sign cards, it says 6pm. We realize that this is a blessing in disguise, as we have a lot of early mornings, and if we have late dining, we wouldn’t be finished until 9:30pm, which is when I’d want to be in bed if I have to wake up at 5:30am to be ready by 7am. Plus, we receive one of the best tables, at the exact end of the ship, against the window, with a panoramic view of Mediterranean. We are seated at a four person table, but our waiter says no one is scheduled to sit with us. So we get an awesome table to ourselves at the better time. Thank goodness for mistakes in our favor! Kurt has the spring rolls for a starter, which sweet and sour shrimp as a main dish, while I have cream of sun ripened tomato soup with herb croutons and a flat iron steak. Dessert is the glorious warm melting cake, with vanilla ice cream. I do not even like chocolate and this dessert is just a warm, gooey, heavenly mess.

Sun ripened tomato soup with herb croutons on the Carnival Breeze.

Sun ripened tomato soup with herb croutons.

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake from the Carnival Breeze

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake

In all, today was sort of a blur, but we did get some good food and views at dinner. Hopefully this headache I currently have goes away, and tomorrow we’ll be having fun in Marseilles, France, with a visit to a winery and to Avignon to visit the Palace of the Popes!

Traveling: Leaving, on a jet plane…

We are currently on a plane, heading to Miami, FL. Our two week European vacation has begun! After driving through the pouring rain from T.S. Debby yesterday, we are happy to see only light rain clouds today in Orlando. There has been almost no turbulence on this very short flight to Miami, which my tummy is grateful for (I tend to get motion sickness sometimes in the car, so I can only imagine what it will be like in a plane). Once we reach Miami, we’ll have a two hour layover, and then we are off to Barcelona, Spain. More details to come!