A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Cindygad

The Edge cruise with family

Fort Lauderdale, San Juan, Tortola, St Maarten

The Edge March 2019

This trip came about in a strange way. Last January my sister in law Kim contacted me while we were in Roatan. She said did you see the great rates Michele had on the new Ship The Edge. I had seen them but we already had a St John Trip and a River Cruise booked for 2019. That is about all we travel in one year. We turned her down from joining. When we got home we found out my sister had also booked. I was mentioning to Jim and said what did he think if I booked a cheaper room so we could go. He said go for it I will be retired. I had read so much information about the new ship that had come out in November. I was excited to give it a try.

We have been to these islands many times so decided to be low key. We took all the pictures from my I phone. We made it all about being on new ship instead of islands.

We left a day early and stayed at usual Park Sleep Fly we use in Des Plains. We had an early flight which meant we would leave the hotel at 34 5 to catch the 6 am flight. The silly thing was the time was to change at 2 am and we wanted to make sure our clocks or phones changed so we also set a travel alarm. We both woke up at 2 am and the phones said different times so we just stayed awake staring at the clocks. 3 am arrived and we were up getting ready. Taxi was waiting and we were off to the airport. No glitches there and we were in the air at 6 am. I love the new United app which allows you to watch movies on your devices. We arrived in Ft Lauderdale and the airport was a zoo, There were people sitting everywhere at 10 am. We got our baggage and took a taxi to the port. There were 7 ships in port. We got through the line and my name was spelled wrong so I needed to go to a desk to get that fixed and our picture was taken. We were on the ship at 1045. The new way you can drop suitcase off and room keys are the outside door. Our room was finished except room service tray on the floor so we quickly unpacked our carry on's and was out to explore the ship.

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Jim and I went up to Martini Bar on 3. We had a classic drink package included in our booking. You only pay extra if the drinks are over 9. It did not pay for us to upgrade. We only paid extra when we had specialty Martinis a few times. I love the large Martini area and all of the seating around. A great place to gather prior to dining.

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We went to Muster drill at 315 then watched sail away from the Magic carpet area.

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Supper was at 8 pm the In Cyprus dining room, Michele our travel agent had made dinner reservations a couple of months ago for all our nights. When we went to check in there was a snaffoo they had us for a table of two and the other for a table of 6 instead of all of us at a table of 8. This is the only time we had issues with matre d not working the problem out smoothly. We waited a half hour for a table and the dining room was not even full What was up with that. Our table mates for cruise brother and sister and spouses and new friends of my brother.

Cyprus dining room one of four to choose from This is the Mediterranean themed restaurant.

Brother Kenny and Sister in Law Kim

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Sister Shelia and Brother in Law Mike

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Friends of my brother Logan and Joylnn

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My husband and ME

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Had a great dinner, mushroom soup, spring roll,161233e0-4d68-11e9-b4d6-3121998c1a35.JPG

sea bass Very tired to bed at 1100

Monday sea day very sunny but windy

My days always start the same with an Americano coffee from cafe Bacio. Thanks to Jim who does not drink coffee. He also would bring back a small choc croissant to start the morning. We ate breakfast in the dining room. It was very windy but we found a nice spot out of the wind. Loving the layout of the ship. The decor and artwork were very appealing to me.

Michele had a cocktail hour in the Eden for her group to meet everyone. We enjoyed great conversation and the beautiful serene area the Eden is.

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the room you pass through before you get to Eden reminds me of the room of mirrors

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We met in the Martini bar and I tried the Pickle Martini

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We went to the show at 7 called Kaleidoscope it was interesting

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Supper was in a different dining room called Tuscan.This is the Southern Italian restaurant and is located on deck 3 Michele had fixed our seating problem and we had great service tonight,

I had salmon tartare and lamb chops to die for

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Wine for the evening was

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After dinner, we went to the club for Silent Disco. What a hoot! There are three different styles of music so everyone is listening to a different channel. You can change it to the same color or a different one. When you take the headphones you hear no music just people singing. It is so fun if you ever have the chance just do it!

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Tuesday San Juan afternoon

We weren't supposed to get into San Juan until 3 pm. We did the usual morning routine and went to the solarium to relax and read out of the sun.
We scored a double lounge
r and relaxed. Went to the main dining room and I enjoyed a cobb salad and pecan pie. We talked to a young couple from Texas who have both traveled a lot for their age and a lovely lady who traveled by herself was on her 50th cruise and was from Slovakia originally. She was very vivacious and fun to be around. Through the years I have enjoyed meeting some awesome people at dinner and hearing about their travels.

When we got on elevator met Vern aka Jeramy and he said to come out by the pool where his family was. It was a beautiful sunny day and enjoyed sitting on the pool edge with feet in the water.

We then enjoyed sitting at pool bar with logan and Joylnn and getting to know them better.

We got into port an hour later than suppose to they had engine problems but got it fixed quickly We watched the sail into San Juan from the Magic Carpet
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Michele had given each couple of dinners for specialty dining. Tonight was ours at 8 pm in Fine Cut dining room. At 55 a person

Desert was unbelievable ice cream sundae and Brownie Sundae. He brought extra to tempt people who had not ordered any. Also had a new drink with amaretto and cream and almonds

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Too full to go to bed so we walked up on the rooftop and retreat area. The ship is beautiful at night.

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Wed Tortola

Jim and I had rented a villa on the island and stayed for aweek several years ago. We decided just to get off and walk into Roadtown. I love walking when we are at ports and it makes me laugh at how lazy we as travelers have become. Most got on an open air taxi just to go into Roatown. Today we walked 5 miles and my knee was talking to me when we were done. We took it slow and enjoyed seeing how much has changed since we were here. There is still a lot of construction going on after the Hurricanes of 2017. Islands take so much time to recover since they do not have the resources available to them. Tortola is a British island and appeared to have much more rebuilding to get back to pre-hurricane state.

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Went looking for a new hat at Pussers for Jim but they did not have any at this time.

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We got back on the ship and went to eat at Eden for lunch had salad and sandwich. We went to Sunset bar at the back of the ship and had Mohito and Long island ice tea.

It was time to meet in Martini Bar at 330 to start Michele's famous Poker Run Ran by her sister in law Lori. You get two cards at each bar but do not open until the end. It is a great way to get to know everyone in her group. We had an awesome time with lots of laughter.

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Got back to the room and Jim fell asleep. 6 long island ice teas for him. I thought I would be going to dinner by myself. I poked him and said are you going to dinner???? He popped up and showered and was good to go. We ate in Tuscan again and Mike did not show up for dinner. Had turkey parmesan and cheese flan. Went to watch the show at Eden called Revelation! Baazar is all I can say.

Thurs St Maartin

We went up to eat breakfast inOcean view cafe at buffet. Very good. We got off ship and took ferry 7$ round trip. This area was all repaired from Hurricanes and looked beautiful. We walked around and got tablecloths for Holidays from Linen shop.

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We got back to ship around 1100 and found a closed in area above pool bar with cushy double lounges. You could hear the music but much quieter than around pool tried out the Mast grill for burgers. Enjoyed this area very much

we watched sailaway and talked with brother and sister in law.

Had dinner in cypress and crab cake, salad and short ribs.

went to the show in the Club and watched Mirage by les Farfadels acrobatic show.

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Sea day Rainy most of day

Had breakfast in dinning room than had tea at Cafe al Bacio with Doug and Michele

Jim got a spot up on quiet deck above pool bar with plush double loungers, Spent day up there reading and relaxing

Had dinner in the Normandy had great gruyere cheeser tart and Lobster and favorite wine of ship Haven from South Africa.
We also celebrated Jolynn birthday.

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Saturday sea day and sunny all day Yea!

Sat by a fun couple from Austriala that had done 3 ships and was now returning home. those Austrialians know how to travel.Went to upper deck to find an area in the shade. Ate lunch in buffet and they had large cold shrimp today. Today is packing day so got in done before supper.

Dinner tonight was in the Cosmopolitan we had a great steai and little pouch with scallop and wonderful carrott cake.
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Went to bed early have walk off departure in morning.

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Sunday back in port in fort Lauderdale. Did walk off with suit cases and got taxi to air port. Our flight was 1050 and able to catch it without any problems. Arrived in Ohare at 130,IMG_2901.JPG

got luggage and took transfer back to hotel to get our car. Home at 430. Sunny and 46 degrees.
Jim says retirement is really good when you get home from vacation and don't have to go back to work.

Posted by Cindygad 07:27 Archived in Saint Martin Comments (1)

St john 2019 part 2

Wed the winds were down so great snorkel at Haulover North.

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We went to Kiddle for the first time in a few years. The rope was down and we were able to park in there. Stayed here from 1130-4pm. Snorkeled both sides.

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Thursday Jan 17

Arrived at Francis at 0915 Got a great shady place made out of sticks to set up shade. At 1100 a large family moved in with 4 small children under the age of 3. I must admit there were very quiet and did not bother us. In fact, enjoyed watching them in the waves.

We snorkeled to left clear to Maho. Water was not to clear today. Saw lots of fish but nothing remarkable.

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We tried the Wok on the beach for the first time in Coral Bay. We got there early and most seats were open. before we left it was completely full. I did not get the waitress name but she did a fabulous job and did not get riled when they got so busy. It is actually one of the few restaurants that have an ocean view.

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Friday Jan 18

Went to Grootpan at 0900. Had beach to ourselves for a few hours. had to put parasheet up for shade.

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Snorkeled to right and pretty clear today. Saw some reef far out had not seen before.

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We made our weekly stop at Miss Lucy for Grouper Rueben fix.

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We then drove over to East end.

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Saturday Jan 19th.

We found that Saturdays are a turn around day for some so fewer people at Salt Pond. I love coming here. Always see turtles, stingrays and usually and squid. The rocks in the middle are great snorkel if it is not to choppy. Today did not disappoint.

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Snorkel

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Tomorrow is my 62 birthday Hello Social Security! The restaurants I want to go to were both closed on Sunday so I decided to go tonight. We were early enough to see the sunset

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then went to Virgin Fire Bistro.44885060-24dc-11e9-a8c3-bb79f9d1d1db.JPG

We had reservations for 6 pm. the place was almost 1/2 full already. Service was remarkable as always and Abby our waitress was special. Not only beautiful but charming and efficient.

I had a grapefruit margarita that was so good would need two.c0bfc800-2556-11e9-b65b-bd7e9ff2c9f3.JPG

We had crunchy calamari
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I had the shrimp and Jumbo Lump crab and homemade pappardelle.
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My husband had Cioppino seafood stew.
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Loved the meal and service

Sunday, Jan 20th

treated to a colorful sunrise
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and lovely breakfast53fc2da0-255e-11e9-b77f-a14fd2084fc3.JPG

I picked to go to waterlemon for my birthday. the walk in is all along shore and easy.

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When we got in the water my husband gave me the look! He said he forgot the camera battery. I said no problem after 39 years of marriage he does not forget things often It is usually me. Usually though if the battery goes dead that is when you see so many unusual things. Not today nothing was missed. When we got out of the water we were talking to a lady who is traveling on her own. She is a scientist and found out they just cleared a trail to so ruins we had not seen in the gut of Leinster Bay. So glad she told us or we would have missed it.

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We sat on the little beach across from parking lot and read and enjoyed the ripple of the water

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Some pictures of full moon and eclipse FULL DISCLOSURE Someone else posted
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Monday 21

We went to Oppenmyer and Gibney beach it looks different now. We still enjoyed and just spent the whole day here with a rain shower lasting about 20 min.

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Tuesday Jan 22
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We hiked to Brown Bay. It was disappointing snorkel the water was all churned up. We did see thousands of little fish unsure what they were but seemed bigger than fry fish, Also some interesting tube fish in sand coming out of holes as we were coming in. A barracuda just kept circling us. Usually, they don't bother me but this one got on my nerves.
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Went to the east end and snorkeled the shelve past pelican rock

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Wed

Went to Francis and set up neso for shade spent the whole day there. Larry and Jane the owners of Angelroost
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took us out to eat at Rhumblines. It was not as busy as the last time we were there but they still have some service issues. The food was ok

Thursday 0e770230-25a6-11e9-977b-41fdcc9f663f.JPG

We went to Lamshur and set up chairs in the shade Then we hiked teck tite trail

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Friday rainy and misty did not go to the beach until 1030 and we chose Gibney with all its imperfections it is still one of our favorites. We had the beach to ourselves until the afternoon.IMG_2179.JPGIMG_2176.JPGIMG_2183.JPGIMG_2180.JPGIMG_2191.JPG

Saturday the day of doom

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When we landed in Chicago we had quite the drive home roads very slick and snow covered had to go 40 miles and hour all the way home.
What a drastic change in weather.

Until next year

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xxx

Posted by Cindygad 16:29 Comments (0)

St John 2019

Three glorious weeks

Jim retired on Wednesday this year after 39 and a half years at AEP working as an electrical engineer. We went to Chicago for Park, Sleep and Fly. We stayed at Best Western in Des Plaines. We went to a Guy Feri place of diners and drive in called paradise pup. It is a small place that serves the best burgers and fries and Malts yes I said Malt. you do not hear that much anymore.

Sat Jan 5th up early and left the hotel at 615. We went to United Club room to wait and have a light breakfast. We were to meet up at the airport with Michele and Doug friends we had met in 2009 on a cruise. This is before Michele was destined to be a travel agent. She is awesome and always goes above and beyond to provide the best service possible. Hopefully this trip she can get some much-needed downtime. We had a 0850 flight. It takes about 5 hours to get to St John.

First glimpse of land

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I went to the bathroom to change clothes and our luggage came out. We were hoping to catch the 5 pm ferry. Michele had contacted Ali
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one of the drivers she has used before to pick us up on a private van. We were excited and loaded up and were off. about 15 min into the ride my phone rings and says, Charlotte Amalie. I do not know anybody there but answered and he said he had one of our luggage back at the airport. I said nope we got them all. He said, lady, I am telling you I am calling you from the number on your bag. We looked in the back and sure enough, I had left one on the sidewalk. So much for catching the ferry, we had to turn around and go back to the airport to get it. We arrived at Redhook just as the ferry was pulling away. Oh, well we are on island time. Jim bought us Painkillers, Bushwackers, and Doug a beer. It helped to ease the pain. It tasted so good and before we knew it we were loading the ferry.

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Courtesy met us at the dock and we were off to get our 4 door Jeep. We stopped at the dolphin market for necessities like rum beer, eggs, water, and bread. We called Stan owner of Lunazul and said we were on our way. It was dark and we were unsure which road. It had been three years since we had stayed there and everything looked different after hurricanes. Our phones would not work so we gave it a try on our own. thought we were on right rode then decided it was not. Jim backed out of this crazy driveway and we went back down. Finally got phone reception and got a hold of Stan and he met us and took us back up. We were on the right road after all. It felt so good to be returning to Lunazul. They had lost a couple windows and a door in Hurricanes. Everything looked great and some of the palms were growing back nicely. We put our food away and decided to eat in and made some sandwiches and turned in 1030 island time. So good to be back on the island.

Sunday, Jan 6th

Up at 530 made coffee and watched island start to come alive. My absolute favorite time of day. Doug made sausage and Michele made dipping eggs

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We picked Frances as the first beach and sat up camp. First on the beach at 1000.
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We came back and had drinks and appetizers. We had chicken kiev, rice, and salad. We listened to music and went to be about 0830.

Monday

Today is Doug's birthday. We had blueberry pancakes and sausage.

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We went to Hawknest beach.

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We listened to music and played dominos.

Tuesday

Had steak and egg scramble and muffins.

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We went to Haulover South for the morning and a snorkel.

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We stopped at Skinnys for some shopping and drinks. I had a Bushwacker and chips to snack on.

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Stopped at Maho for a swim
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We had supper from Carribean Oasis located down below lunazul. We all had pecan chicken that is to die for and sides of coleslaw, mashed potatoes.

Wed
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Started off with some light sprinkles and end up with a beautiful day on trunk bay.

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We stayed at the beach all day. We all four had been floating and talking in water. We all were leaving the water at the same time and boom we got hit With a big wave and all of us did a somersault in the water and came up laughing. We gave the whole beach their laugh of the day!

We had little hamburgers and smashed potatoes. Jim and I stayed up and watched Bird Box movie.

Thursday

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Today we took Doug and Michele to a new beach they had not been to. Little Lameshure. We were the only ones on the beach for a while. the road down is pretty challenging. They loved this remote beach and definitely get St John if they love it here. They snorkeled and then we headed to Miss Lucy for a late lunch.

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Miss Lucy's and Ruben grouper sandwich.IMG_1928.JPG
My favorite on the island.

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To full for supper since we had late lunch. Just had cheese and crackers and sausage while played dominos.

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Friday
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Dennis Bay was our first stop of the day

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We left for one last snorkel at Maho.

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We stopped at Carribean Oasis to get some mashed potatoes to go with our turkey for supper and had a couple rounds of drinks at bar.
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Had best Turkey dinner for last meal at Lunazul. Don't laugh but I brought a small turkey breast and we roasted it in the oven. It was so good.

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Saturday

day to leave Lunazul and transfer to Angelroost for two more weeks.

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We went into town and it started raining. Went to Mongoose junction for a little shopping and stopped in at new tap room for a drink and some cheese curds.

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We took Doug and Michele to catch 1 pm ferry, We enjoyed sharing the week with them. Loved that Michele was able to enjoy and savor the quietness and beauty of the island. She says in her words a place where her soul rests and her heart beats at a slower pace.

Until next year my friends
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We went back to Angelroost and unpacked and talked to owners Larry and Jane Brown.
We took it easy and had little sausages and crescent rolls and watched the playoffs.

Sunday

Woke up to a very sunny day and had blueberry pancakes. We left at 0930 and parked by road to enter long swim to pelican rock. Good snorkel and very calm

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We went to Haulover South and did a snorkel clear around to lime cove.

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for happy hour 5-6 half off pu pu menu and drinks. Drinks were good. Service has some bugs to work out. Took a long time to get drinks. Ordered food and ours came out and people next to us waited an hour and they had ordered before us. We all enjoyed talking to the people around us. One couple we had met at the beach she is also a nurse Chris and husband Tim from Massachusett they come every Jan. Another younger couple is down working on a house they bought. It used to be Leslie and Steve's rental before Hurricane. They hope to rent next year and come to visit when they can. They have 5 children. The bartender gave us all 6 a round of drinks because service was so slow. We enjoyed our evening in spite of the service.

Monday

To Hawknest and was beautiful there. We picked some shade and about an hour later a couple came and sat right in front of us. Not the view we wanted so we went to Dennis Bay and read. No snorkeling today

Tuesday

Today we had Lap of St John scheduled with Busy Bee. Went to the office across from Skinny's to meet and the other couple had canceled due to sickness. We offered to come another day and Bryan the owner said no today is a perfect weather day and we were off. His wife Marguerite are expecting a baby in June. She walked us to the pier so we could get on Busy Bee. First stop was Bee Hive. We had snorkeled here but not clear out to point. Enjoyed this snorkel a lot.

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Second snorkel was ove by St James Christmas Cove we snorkeled around cay and then went for pizza at pizzia pi.

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We had 1/2 Indiana sweet home and another half Dali Lane. So good Bryan called our order in and when we pulled up it was ready. How cool is that getting fresh pizza on the ocean!!!! Really good!

The third snorkel was Whistling Cay someplace I have always wanted to snorkel. Water was a little choppy

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We went in Cruz Bay to get some gas

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The 4th snorkel was round bay at the end of the long bay. Not too much to see except an Octopus

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See St John 2019 Part 2

xxxx

Posted by Cindygad 16:27 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (0)

Rome before and after cruise 2018

Rome October 2018

Getting there is never fun. We had a direct from Chicago O' hare to Rome. I watched several movies and watched Jim my DH sleep the whole way. How do guys do that? Arrived at 0900 and driver Roberto was there and took us to our first Air BnB in the Monti area. He left us at door and I thought oh no now what. We pressed the buzzer and Marisa's husband opened the door. Our room wasn't ready so we left our stuff and started exploring! We had seen the Coliseum before so just wanted to explore the area more. We found a Villa Aldobrandi and had a great overview to see the area.

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View from street corner of Air BNB

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We were close to Piazza Navona. We walked to trevi fountain and Spanish steps.

We stopped for lunch at the place our Air BNB recommended down our street

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Back out after we got checked in at air bnb. Went looking for the church San Pietro in Vinvoli and found the beautiful Moses statue that was completed in 1515

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on the ceiling, you find a beautiful fresco by Giovanni

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The church has the layout of a much larger basilica as it is divided by 20 ancient marble columns in the interior

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The chains of St Peter, according to tradition when the two chains used to fetter the Saint in Jerusalem

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Views of Forum

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Coliseum

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Had reservations at Cuoco E Camica in a cosey alleyway right by a flight of stairs. We sat in a quiet spot only a few steps from the heart of the historic borough of Monti
We had the seafood tasting menu, Rome is always a city by the sea. salmon tartar, cucumber cups, Lobster packets, Octopus, Squid and more. Mango ice cream and two pastries. delicious and waitress explained everything in detail! Two years we had eaten Amore hotel and this meal surpassed it by far and was one third the price.

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Went to leave and it started pouring. We laughed as we sloshed through the puddles and ran back to our room.

Saturday, October 6th
In the morning, I used a hotpot for tea for the first time Jim brought back a pastry we were up and ready and had our head stuck out the window looking for our driver to pick us up. We heard him holler Mr. James

We used all off ship tours from cruise critic forum with a group that was traveling on our ship the Jewel. I started working on excursions in Nov 2017 and was all done planning in Feb2018. I joined some tours with others and was in charge of two tours. The people on cruise critic were very seasoned travelers and easy to work with. We ended up seeing many throughout the ship.

We had booked a Pre Cruise Rome Countryside Tour through Stefano's ROMECABS
Barb and Dan from Pennsylvania
Daveen and Don from Washington

Castello Orsini-Odescalchi is a castle in Bracciano in the province of Rome located on the southern shore of Lake Bracciano. Opened in 1485. It is the most impressive castle in Italy. It was built by powerful Orsini family as both a private residence and defense fortress. The castle host important cultural events and high profile weddings, The price for the castle was 8.50 Euros per person. We did not get a guide and enjoyed seeing it on our own and reading placks in each room.

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We stopped at and walked the boardwalk

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Monday day ten leave the ship and go to Rome

We shared a ride with Dawn and Tom. We were dropped off at Primo Suites We rang the buzzer and Fabio the owner came down to greet us. Our room was not ready so we were given a choice of two rooms. We picked # 5. He gave us a map and many suggestions for places to see since we had been to Rome before.

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I loved that we had no agenda and just planned on wondering Rome. We walked to Trevi fountain but it was so busy decided to get up early and come back in the morning. We then walked to Spanish steps

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Lunch

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We met Dawn and Tom for supper

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Tuesday up early togo to Tevi fountain

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Market

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Capacino break

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Jewish Gettho is the oldest Jewish settlement in all of Europe. It is very pedestrian friendly and a great place for a stroll.

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lunch

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Piazza Navona
Fountain of four rivers in the middle with an Egyptian obelisk, the Northen end has a fountain of Neptune, Southern end four Titans, Church of Sant Agnese

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Supper was a small place off the beaten track that Fabio recommended. We would meet a young couple who also vacationed in Switzerland that we enjoyed talking to. I had ravioli with spinach sage butter and ricotta cheese. Jim had spaghetti with a hole Bucatini with tomato sauce and bacon

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Wed Papal Mass with Pope Frances

Jim had gone on Tuesday to get free tickets you get them directly from the Swiss guard in St Peter's Square at the bronze door. We arrived at 0730 to a huge number of people and went through security took us about a half hour. We then went and found a seat in chairs set up and tried to get in the aisle where the Pope goes through in Popemobile. They had several large screens set up in the square. He arrived a little before 10 and went up the aisle and middle where we were. Pope Francis stopped several times to bless people. I was overwhelmed and it brought me to tears. So Happy to experience Pope Francis in person.

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We decided to take a walk. Rome is known as the city of seven hills, but actually the Gianicolo or Janiculum the hill that provides one of the best views of Rome to go down we went down to TRASTEVERE. We stayed here the last time and love the location. We had time to wander around and found a great stop for lunch

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At Noon

the quiet is momentarily broken by the single shot of a cannon to mark the exact time, a tradition that dates back to the 19th century. We saw a bunch of people waiting and wondered what was happening and BOOM. the cannon went off. We just happened to be in the right place at right time to see it

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We went down the steps to TRASTEVERE and wandered around. Found a great place for lunch. I was a little too happy after sharing a bottle of Chanti with Jim and had to get a picture with the bartender!

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We spent time exploring

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I had to rest my ankles, sat on the square and enjoyed people watching after all the walking.

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We walked back along the Tiber River and I went to the room and rested while Jim checked out a few more churches and Lego displays.

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Legos

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For our final night in Rome, we picked a restaurant Fabio had recommended, Osteria de Memmo

I had mushroom tagliatelle and Jim had seafood tagliatelle. We shared a cheese plate and bottle of wine.

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Thursday the dreaded travel day home. Started day off scary our driver did not show up. Fabio came through again and called them and they said our driver's car had broken down and they were sending another driver. 25 min later the driver arrived. He drove like a racecar driver and we made it to the airport with a few minutes to spare. The first leg of the flight to London. We ate a great burger at the pilots club there. Next long flight home to Chicago. Landed and pulled into our driveway at 1130 at night. Awesome trip and met some wonderful people.

3

Posted by Cindygad 11:15 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Rome,Italy, Sicily ,and Greece on the Jewel October 2018

Rome, Sicily,Malta,Mykonos, Santorini & Athens

Rome

Getting there is never fun. We had a direct from Chicago O hare to Rome. Arrived at 0900 watched several movies and watched Jim sleep the whole way. How do guys do that? Arrived and driver Roberto was there and took us to our first Air BnB in the Monti area. He left us at door and I thought oh no now what. We pressed the buzzer and Marisa's husband opened the door. Our room wasn't ready so we left our stuff and started exploring! We had seen the Coliseum before so just wanted to explore the area more. We found a Villa Aldobrandi and had a great overview to see the area.

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View from street corner of Air BNB

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We were close to Piazza Navona. We walked to trevi fountain and Spanish steps.

We stopped for lunch at the place our Air BNB recommended down our street

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Back out after we got checked in at air bnb. Went looking for the church San Pietro in Vinvoli and found the beautiful Moses statue that was completed in 1515

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on the ceiling, you find a beautiful fresco by Giovanni

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The church has the layout of a much larger basilica as it is divided by 20 ancient marble columns in the interior

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The chains of St Peter, according to tradition when the two chains used to fetter the Saint in Jerusalem

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Views of Forum

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Coliseum

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Had reservations at Cuoco E Camica in a cosey alleyway right by a flight of stairs. We sat in a quiet spot only a few steps from the heart of the historic borough of Monti
We had the seafood tasting menu, Rome is always a city by the sea. salmon tartar, cucumber cups, Lobster packets, Octopus, Squid and more. Mango ice cream and two pastries. delicious and waitress explained everything in detail! Two years we had eaten Amore hotel and this meal surpassed it by far and was one third the price.

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Went to leave and it started pouring. We laughed as we sloshed through the puddles and ran back to our room.

Saturday, October 6th
In the morning, I used a hotpot for tea for the first time Jim brought back a pastry we were up and ready and had our head stuck out the window looking for our driver to pick us up. We heard him holler Mr. James

We used all off ship tours from cruise critic forum with a group that was traveling on our ship the Jewel. I started working on excursions in Nov 2017 and was all done planning in Feb2017. I joined some tours with others and was in charge of two tours. The people on cruise critic were very seasoned travelers and easy to work with. We ended up seeing many throughout the ship.

We had booked a Pre Cruise Rome Countryside Tour through Stefano's ROMECABS
Barb and Dan from Pennsylvania
Daveen and Don from Washington

Castello Orsini-Odescalchi is a castle in Bracciano in the province of Rome located on the southern shore of Lake Bracciano. Opened in 1485. It is the most impressive castle in Italy. It was built by powerful Orsini family as both a private residence and defense fortress. The castle host important cultural events and high profile weddings, The price for the castle was 8.50 Euros per person. We did not get a guide and enjoyed seeing it on our own and reading placks in each room.

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We stopped at and walked the boardwalk

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Now the chaos begins we had received an email stating not to arrive before 1 because the previous cruise had norovirus 250 people had been sick. We arrived around 2. We checked in quite easy because we are diamond level. There were hoards of people at the terminal. We got in line and was on board at 3.

Everyone was heading to the dining room. Windjammer. There was no place to sit. We had our carry on suitcases so waited on a table to open. I Sat down while Jim went to get his lunch. When there has been a virus they have to serve you your food from the buffet and get your drinks. None of the staff seemed to know what was going on. I got a salad and we ended up sharing the table with some great people from Alabama that had never cruised. that helped to pass the time. They came on the speaker and said the rooms still are not ready. We left and tried to find a place to wait. All the chairs were taken and the hallways and stairs were covered with people.

The doors finally opened before fire drill at 515. Rooms were not ready but we dropped our suitcases off and went to drill. The rain had stopped and it was hot waiting for the drill to be completed in the sun.

Since we are diamond members we get free drinks from the bar from 5-830. We went to eat at 0815 any time dining and had a great waiter Joel from Philippines and Vineesh from.
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They would end up being our favorite team we have ever had. Danced and to bed at 1000.

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Sunday, Oct 7th.

Sicily was a tour I had arranged we did not arrive until 1100 am. We went down to the main dining room and had to wait in line. Talked to a young girl in a wheelchair who was a senior and travel to Greece with her Mom and Dad to explore for her school studies. She was an amazing young lady we would run into throughout the cruise.

I had a sign when we got off the ship and everyone was prompt and it was good to see people I had talked to online and put faces with names.

Dawn & Tom Chicago
Jane & Mike
Ute & Oliver from Germany

Our Driver was Carmela. We were picked up in the port of Messina. and we were off it was the Taormina and Winery tour we chose through Sicily life. Anna was easy to work with the booking of the trip. We drove through seaport of Giardina Naxos which was the first Greek settlement in Sicily.

Our first stop Gambino Winery along the slopes of Mount Etna overlooking the sea. We were taking in the view and our wine guide came out and gave us a glass of wine while he explained the grapes.
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They are special due to volcanic minerals in the soil. We went inside to be seated for the tasting combined with Sicilian food tasting of dried tomatoes, etna mushrooms an olives, local salami, types of cheeses and homemade sausages.

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Jim has always liked wine and would share a glass but he enjoyed all of them and joined the wine club here. I think he really fell in love with wine today.

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Carmela got them to bring us a taste of his favorite a reserve wine

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Next, we had a panoramic drive to reach Taormina. We had time to explore the village and stroll the mean streets and narrow ways with hidden corners and nice shops.

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We walked to Belvedere square with its unique breathtaking view over Messina coastline.

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We walked down the hill to a beautiful view

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We met our driver and drove back to the port.

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Valletta is the capital city of Malta Malta is a southern European island consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean sea. Valletta, The Fortress City, "a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen" is Malta's capital city: a living, working city.

We were up on deck to watch the Jewel sail into the walled city. We met off the boat and met tour guide, Brigitte.

Daveen and Don had arranged the trip
Dawn and Tom
Cindy & Steve
Cindy & Jim
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We walked to overlook L-Isla, Malta Xlokk, Malta, Malta

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A walk down Merchants street

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View of Blue Grotto and the massive arch. We took a boat trip around caves for a spectacle of colors a result of the reflections. The phosphorescent of colors of the flora on the seabed as well as the minerals in the rock.

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We stopped in Marsaxlokk a picturesque fishing village on the south-east side of Malta, with it's traditional brightly painted boats having the origin in Phoenician times.

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It was a really hot day so only three people went to the Tarxien Prehistoric Temples are a 3 temple site ranging between 2,500 and 2,900 B.C.

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Mdina is one of Europe's finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. These late medieval villages were built when the in habitants of Mdina stopped feeling the need to be living behind walls. Perched on a hilltop, Mdina has an irregular plan of narrow winding streets to confuse the enemy.
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Tuesday, October 9th sea day,

Went to breakfast in the dining room. I went to napkin folding class. Ate in the dining room for lunch. Jim said he had the best salmon he has ever had. They gave us free bloody Mary's and mimosa. We went to deck four to listen and dance. We went to see oncore of Gary Williams sings the hits of Frank Sinatra. Such a good performer.

Wed October 9th.

We had no tours planned here, We planned on taking it easy and just walking in Mykonos.

Mykonos may be one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades. According to Greek mythology, it was here that Hercules slew the Giants; the large rocks that are scattered about are said to be their petrified corpses. The rocks are stunning sight against the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Loved strolling the town through winding streets and a maze of shops.

To get there you need to take the sea bus

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We started to walk to windmills. It was very windy but sunny out. We walked through Little Venus IMG_E0695.JPGDSC_0541.JPGDSC_0542.JPGDSC_0533.JPGDSC_0538.JPG

the iconic windmills are an easy walk

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Loved the winding streets

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Thursday 71 and windy

Santorini is a vision of whitewashed villages and bright blue sea. The whitewashed cliff-top villages against the azure waters. To get to top need to take the cable car, ride donkeys or walk. When you get to the top of Fira for the first glimpse of the stunning caldera. This natural wonder is what probably was the biggest volcanic eruption in history. Believed by some to have caused the disappearance of Atlantis

Caught first tender at 0730 met our group at top of the cable car.

Dan & Barb
Bob & Deb
Phyllis & Don
Liz & Mike
Mike & Jane

We met our guide at 0830 Kevin Mike had been the group leader for this excursion. He also made the wonderful online roll roster and excursions list for our trip. We took the first tender off the boat at 0730 and then went to cable car entrance.

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Fira is where you get off cable car at top of the main stunning cliff-perched town. It is one of four villages on the crescent of the caldera. We took obligatory pictures of the view.

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There is a push to stop the Donkey rides to top that has been providing transportation for years prior to the cable car. Animal warfare groups are trying to stop. They feel that the animals toil in poor working conditions and are abused and mistreated by handlers.

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Kevin our guide

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Santorininalso known as Thera in Greece

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Oia is a photogenic town with a maze of small shops. The best part about Oia is it is a small village easily walkable and around every corner is views to die for

The Three Blue Domes this is the shot you see on postcards and our famous

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Three Bells of Fira which is part of the iconic church. The Catholic church is famed for its three bells, blue dome, and picturesque views
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Pyrgos built in the heart of pre volcanic hinterland and at the foot of Mt Profitis Ilias.

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Megalochori is a quaint village sitting on a hill. It has retained much of its history ancestry

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Athens full day tour with PK travel

Phyllis & Dan group leader
Daveen & Don
Mike & Liz
Dawn & Tom
Mike & Jane

We met Christine at 0720 12 people. She was a great guide and gave just the right information and made me enjoy the historic places and museum.
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It was built by Romans in 161 AD and still used today for classical concerts — at Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
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Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens. It
includes the Parthenon, the Erechtheum

Parthenon

Parthenon temple that dominates the hill of the Acropolis.is built entirely of marble.It is a temple dedicated to goddess Athena

Entasis provided an illusion of straightness that counteracted the human eye's tendency to see straight objects with a concave curve.

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Erectheion
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The `Erecthion sits on the most sacred site of the Acropolis where Poseidon and Athena had their contest over who would be the Patron of the City. — at Parthenon, Erechtheion, Temple of Goddess Athena, Athens Greece.

Maidens The porch of the maidens or Caryatids which now copy the originals 4 of which are in Museum of Acropolis and the 5th taken by Lord Elgin who put it in the British Museum more than a century ago — at Acropolis - Ακρόπολη.

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When leaving there was a group of dancers to honor a political dignitary
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Temple of Olympia Zeus originally had 104 columns today only 15 remain

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Panathenaic stadium

Only stadium in the world built of marble. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first Modern Olympics in 1896, It was also used in 2004 as the Olympic venue.

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Old palace changing of the neoclassical trilogy

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To be continued on part two

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Posted by Cindygad 11:47 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Athens part 2, Amalfi Coast, Rome

Λόφος Λυκαβηττού (Lycabettus Hill)

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La placka

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Acropolis Museum
Under the Acropolis Museum are the ruins of an ancient. The Athenian neighborhood, The museum was constructed on the archaeology in such a way that enables visitors to look onto ancient foundations — at Acropolis Museum - Μουσείο Ακρόπολης.

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This was the day I had been looking for ever since we had to see Almfi Coast before. We were up early and inline to get off the ship at 0715. This was a morning of total miscommunication and chaos by ship. We did not get clearance until1000

Cindy & Jim
Daveen & Dawn
Kris and Rod
Mike & Jane

Lucky our Driver from ROML Rome in Limo was still waiting for us and we were off to my magical place.

Positona

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I requested a water view for the restaurant and our driver came through with a great place with the view.

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Amalfi

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Monday day ten leave the ship and go to Rome

We shared a ride with Dawn and Tom. We were dropped off at Primo Suites We rang the buzzer and Fabio the owner came down to greet us. Our room was not ready so we were given a choice of two rooms. We picked # 5. He gave us a map and many suggestions for places to see since we had been to Rome before.

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I loved that we had no agenda and just planned on wondering Rome. We walked to Trevi fountain but it was so busy decided to get up early and come back in the morning. We then walked to Spanish steps

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Lunch

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We met Dawn and Tom for supper

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Tuesday up early togo to Tevi fountain

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Market

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Capacino break

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Jewish Gettho is the oldest Jewish settlement in all of Europe. It is very pedestrian friendly and a great place for a stroll.

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lunch

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Piazza Navona
Fountain of four rivers in the middle with an Egyptian obelisk, the Northen end has a fountain of Neptune, Southern end four Titans, Church of Sant Agnese

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Supper was a small place off the beaten track that Fabio recommended. We would meet a young couple who also vacationed in Switzerland that we enjoyed talking to. I had ravioli with spinach sage butter and ricotta cheese. Jim had spaghetti with a hole Bucatini with tomato sauce and bacon

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Posted by Cindygad 11:46 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

the Papal Mass part 3, 2018

Wed Papal Mass with Pope Frances

Jim had gone on Tuesday to get free tickets you get them directly from the Swiss guard in St Peter's Square at the bronze door. We arrived at 0730 to a huge number of people and went through security took us about a half hour. We then went and found a seat in chairs set up and tried to get in the aisle where the Pope goes through in Popemobile. They had several large screens set up in the square. He arrived a little before 10 and went up the aisle and middle where we were. Pope Francis stopped several times to bless people. I was overwhelmed and it brought me to tears. So Happy to experience Pope Francis in person.

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We decided to take a walk. Rome is known as the city of seven hills, but actually the Gianicolo or Janiculum the hill that provides one of the best views of Rome to go down we went down to TRASTEVERE. We stayed here the last time and love the location. We had time to wander around and found a great stop for lunch

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At Noon

the quiet is momentarily broken by the single shot of a cannon to mark the exact time, a tradition that dates back to the 19th century. We saw a bunch of people waiting and wondered what was happening and BOOM. the cannon went off. We just happened to be in the right place at right time to see it

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We went down the steps to TRASTEVERE and wandered around. Found a great place for lunch. I was a little too happy after sharing a bottle of Chanti with Jim and had to get a picture with the bartender!

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We spent time exploring

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I had to rest my ankles, sat on the square and enjoyed people watching after all the walking.

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We walked back along the Tiber River and I went to the room and rested while Jim checked out a few more churches and Lego displays.

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Legos

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For our final night in Rome, we picked a restaurant Fabio had recommended, Osteria de Memmo

I had mushroom tagliatelle and Jim had seafood tagliatelle. We shared a cheese plate and bottle of wine.

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Thursday the dreaded travel day home. Started day off scary our driver did not show up. Fabio came through again and called them and they said our driver's car had broken down and they were sending another driver. 25 min later the driver arrived. He drove like a racecar driver and we made it to the airport with a few minutes to spare. The first leg of the flight to London. We ate a great burger at the pilots club there. Next long flight home to Chicago. Landed and pulled into our driveway at 1130 at night. Awesome trip and met some wonderful people.

3

Posted by Cindygad 11:43 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

St John 2018 post hurricanes

Unexpected March trip

We came home from Roatan the end of January INSTEAD OF ST JOHN. Life went on but something was missing. Jane who we rent from called and asked how our trip was and offered us a special deal. Flights were too expensive so we let the idea go. Two weeks later I checked and the rates had went down so wayla we are headed back to St John. I had been watching the pictures on forum daily but I warned my husband to be prepared for lots of changes.

We went to Chicago Sat night after our Guys and Dolls dance and stayed at Best Western in Des Plains for park sleep and fly,caught the 545 shuttle to O'hare, no direct flight so we flew to San Juan. by United. Used United Club at Chicago to wait and got continental breakfast. Arrived in San Juan and had Mexican snack of chips and salsa while waiting for Seaborn

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20 minutes later we were landing in St Thomas. They took the luggage right off of plane and you got to take it and go. Went to the van taxi Line and boarded.

I sat next to a lady that would be one of many conversations with locals. Luckily her home on island was not damaged. She was co owner for two restaurants that were both damaged but open now for business. I told her the one in Cruz.Bay is my husbands favorite for pad Thai .We also go to the one in Coral Bay at least once each visit ,She handed me her calling card and said have dinner on me as she got out of the van ! We are so glad you are returning to visit the island .How generous is that! We were not expecting that,

Arrived in red hook and had time to grab a bushwacker drink first sip and we are in island mode

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Made the 5o'clock ferry. When we got in our first look a the island in person post hurricanes. Lots of.blue tarps on roofs and visible damaged. Amazed how cleaned up Cruz Bay was. This little island has worked their tails off to whip it back in shape and ready for visitors.

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Courtsey picked us up in new large van he said he got in March pre hurricane. His office was demolished so he is doing his business out of his van. We went to his lot where he is rebuilding. We have always had great experiences with Greg the owner. He gives 10% discount for return customers and 6% discount if we pay cash.

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He told us that the looters stole three of his jeeps and set one on fire and destroyed it,He was so thankful for return visitors he was also lucky his home was not damaged. Stopped at grocery store and headed over to Coral Bay

Jane greeted us at Angel Roost an octagon house in Upper Carolina Coral Bay. It had very little damage, lost its gate to come down to our studio, a rail on upper deck Jane said every leaf from flowers was stripped clean. They had spent their 50th anniversary huddled together in their home during Maria. She said it was the worst night of their lives. She said we had better get going if we wanted to eat because restaurants were not open late on Sunday. W ended up at Skinny Legs for burgers and watched the ND girls win ending up in sweet sixteen

ANGEL ROOST

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Monday March 19 Sunny winds E 5 good condition for Haulover North snorkel

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Walking in was beautiful as the butterflies were everywhere. The trail was very clean and easy L.ot's of stag horn and pillar coral broken. We saw a nurse shark and turtle. We forgot to charge camera batteries so no pictures. We sat at Haulover South had some shade there.

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Drove to East End

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The good and the bad. We drove the North shore. Gut wrenching seeing all the damage and widespread loss of home yet you look out to water and see new and better views. Driving to Annaberg ruins was tough all the mangroves and canopy of trees stripped and barren.

We walked the ruins and enjoyed the expanded view

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MAHO AND FRANCIS

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TRUNK

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Tuesday I always enjoy the early mornings pre sunrise with cup of coffee watching and listening to island wake up

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Went to Francis and first on beach at 0850 we had bought Neso tent for sun protection: Easy to put up We snorkeled to right saw two large turtles and two small rays. We left at 330. We had met a couple a few years ago that was here now. We met for supper at indigo Grill. We both had a mango monito and Jim had jambalaya and I had mango fish taco. We had the same her waitress we had last night at skinny legs. Had great conversation with her about the hurricanes and experience after. She schooled us in differences of native She was born here and what a local was! g

Wednesday

We decided to take it easy today. Larry and Jane the owners came down to visit, the eighth 11 times we have rented from them. We got to Denis at 1030it is easy trail down, Tried to use Naso tent for shade but gust of wind would knock it down. It was sad to see all the palm trees down and all coral broken and on shore: Found shade down to right and enjoyed beautiful views out to water: Stayed till 430 and went back to house and had cheese and salami and cocktails on deck. Life is good

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Thursday

Rained a little during the night . They have had very little rain the last few weeks. Beautiful rainbow with breakfast:

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Had blueberry pancakes. We went to Trunk Bay, The guard was in the booth but there was no charge. He just wanted to make sure you were not carrying glass 100$ fine. Set up tent and walked the beach which seams larger since hurricane. Restrooms were openand a booth was open selling rental chairs, snorkels even new whole face mask to rent . It was not that windy buta gust would knock tent over. Kept putting back up because no shade to be found, I snorkeled the the trail and actually it was pretty good. Even some stag horn corral survived. We went on a non cruise day and beach was not crowded.

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Aqua bistro just opened this week. We had onion rings for app that were good. I had lime and coconut drink and Jim put arm on the table that was unlevel and all the drinks spilled on him what a mess. We changed tables while the cleaned up mess and got a new drinks.

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Had crunchy grouper sandwich and pasta salad. Jim had fish tacos. We talked to owners of house Above Lunazul Ted and his wife from St Luis down working on house had windows blown out and porches damaged. Such good spirit with everything they had been through.

Friday

BROWN BAY

Up and went to Brown bay and wore knee brace and splints. Remoteness is back! The views were different than previous trips. Vast open views. open climbing up. Someone said not to go to Brown Bay that was full of garbage that had floated up. I was braced to see liter all over and when we came into the open the beach was clean. Thanks to all that cleared the trails and beaches. I picked up some stuff on side and put by trash for pck up
Beach is not know for beauty but it was quiet and tranquil and we found some shade. A lounge chair must of floated up and provided a resting place in the shade

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Saturday

Haulover North,

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No wind so headed to Haulover north again awesome snorkel. Went the farthest out we have been and large reef we had not seen before. went to third telephone past rocks that jut out.

Miss Lucy for lunch their hours are noon-4 for now. Candy the cooks daughter was the waitress and we sat underneath the large umbrella that had been donated. Got so excited when saw on the menu that Grouper Ruben is back on menu my favorite sandwich on island.

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Never saw this sign before after Saltpond
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Went to Grootpan Bay after lunch. It was very hot here. I snorkeled to right what was churned up so did not see much. Tent would not stay up.My review of tent is not worth it gusts of wind bring it down. Today was the last day we tried to use it.

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Tonight we went to Rumblines used what owner had given us for six piece pupu platter and drinks. Jim had pad thi. The waitress Katie was excellent and enjoyed her service. Talked to father and son who worked for BBC putting up power poles. They had been here since October and plan to be here till end of year. Son has fell in love with island and hopes to come back sometime and enjoy it when not working.

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Sunday

We Started out late and went to Waterlemon. We had heard from our friends that the snorkel at three mooring balls was not much there any longer. Walked whole way by shore now to big black rock. Very sad to say there was little to see around the cay. Also the snorkel on right to point all the coral was gone. Can not imagine how strong hurricane was to do so much damage above and below water. The beaches are bigger. There is good with the bad. We went to watch where the fishermen fly fish and found shade. We went and got our chairs and had wonderful quiet afternoon reading and staring at beautiful view.

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Area where they fly fish

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Monday

Awarak tandem kayak adventure. We were able to park at Mongoose parking lot at customer parking for day. We went to North shore deli to get sandwiches and Crack Bar. put in zip locks bags and in cooler. Checked in at office and then she walked us to Cruz Bay where they have Kayaks. She gave us the low down and safety instructions. There were foot rest and knee pads to help steer and roater in back.

First need to tell you our kayaking history is we have done two ocean tours one out to Henley Cay and one from Haulover South to point with two snorkel stops pelican rock and further out. #rd starting at Henson and going to Hurricane hole to snorkel mangroves. All of these had guides.We have come to conclusion we are not good at docking tandem kayak. Singles would of been easier. my husband seemed to think I did not paddle as much as he did. Go figure.

We started out and goal was to snorkel Caneel beaches since you can only get there by water.

SALOMOM BAY

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HOONEYMOON BAY

The water was fairly calm wind at 8 knots. We made it over to turtle bay and hoped to make it to Hawksnest. The seas got much rougher so we decided the farthest we would go was Turtle beach. We started to go in and the beach was kinda uphill we got kayak front on beach husband got out and my foot got stuck on peddle and kayak started getting pummeled by water and sand. I finally got out and we both were holding on to kayak trying to keep it from sinking. We frantically pumped water out and finally got it on shore. We had to scoop sand out and decided to eat our lunch there. Thank goodness for zip lock bags our sandwiches stayed dry. We relaxed on the beautiful beach.

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Tuesday Salt Pond

Arrived first in parking lot down at 0900. The butterflies lead us down the trail. We found some shade and set up camp. First up hike first part is all along shore now and is hard for me because I have arthritic ankles and bum knee. My husband did not want me to do this. I wore ankle splints and knee brace and off we went. Actually the beginning part was harder for me because of loose rocks but found the rest to be easier.I was so happy I was still able to do hike another year.Leaving Salt Pond it sprinkled and made it much easier walking out being cooled off by rain drops.

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Blue cobblestone

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HIKE

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SNORKEL

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DRUNK BAY

Story of the painted rocks, pirate and lady bug. My grandchildren live in Valpo Indiana. They have a great club who paints rocks and hides in parks for kids to find. They though it would be great if Grandpa and Grandpa hid some in St John. We left them in Drunk Bay. Hope someone finds and enjoys them or re hides them.

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Wed last day

Denis Bay

We had not been up to Peace hill in years. Just do it the 360 view is awesome. Not hard to climb up there.

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MY daughter got my husband a hammock for Christmas. We did not try it till the last day .BIG mistake we loved it.

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DONKEYS just will end with them

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Until next year We can not wait to return. So glad we came. Still our favorite place!

Posted by Cindygad 08:39 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (2)

Roatan 2018

Dodging tIhe high winds and rain

ROATAN Jan13-27

The trip to Roatan came about all because of the devastation to St John. I checked out many new locations and mainly was looking for some good snorkeling. After lots of searching we decided on Roatan. Little did I know it was the rainiest season they had had in a log. time. It did not help that I kept comparing it to St John where nothing but sun was showing on the weather forecast. I told Jim to be ready to do lots of reading due to weather.

Roatan is near the Mesoamerican Barrier the largest reef of the Caribbean Sea Second largest to the world wide after Australia great Barrier reef.

We got up at three and left home at 330. Went to our son Brandon's and he drove us to Chicago and dropped us off. Had a few snow bands to drive through but made it to airport a 6. We had a foot and half of snow a few days ago then it rained and melted. Crazy weather patterns. We flew American at 0810 and arrived in Dallas had a hour layover took the skylink to get around airport. Left at 1130 and arrived at 3 pm.There were 3 planes in the small airport at once.

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It took us a hour to get through customs. They fingerprinted and took our picture. Deanne and Mark the owners where we were staying were waiting outside to pick us up.
They took us to local store in Coxin Hole and we bought groceries at Eldons for our stay. The prices were comparable to home which is surprising for a island.

We arrived at Casa Amarilla our home for two weeks on Mangrove Bight. The yellow house. We were staying in the bottom apartment of their house.
The bight means a wide indentation of a shoreline or the body of water by a curve. It is distinguished from a sound by being shallower.
The place was right on the water . Very clean and the screens intact. Very important to keep out the noseums and mosquitoes. I had read so much about bugs before we came and was armed with bug spray and sunscreen with bug spray in it. We sprayed each morning and after our shower before going out and would not occur any problems. Sorry for got to take picture of living room and kitchen. We had good WiFi there with satellite tv.

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Our location we can walk to West End , Half moon Bay and West Bay or take a water taxi. No need for a car rental. Roads are very bad shape with many pot holes. Half moon bay was a short few minutes walk. We walked up and down East end and decided to eat at Argentina Grill. I had a basil mohito and Jim had a Monkey La La The drink is named after the ubiquitous lizard.Everyone should give this drink a try. Kahlua, Baileys, coconut cream, chocolate syrup, vodka dark rum, a banana and pineapple juice. The couple next to us encouraged us to try the surf and turf. We shared and had the best grilled veg and double baked potato. We were full and walked back to our place.

Money used on island is Honduran Lempira. $1=L23.7. We had no issues with money and we brought small bills with us to use.

Sunday Jan 14th

We were up early and the sunrise was at 615. Very windy so we decided to walk to West bay and do the rock scramble to get there. A couple of miles but pretty easy to do. West Bay was a beautiful sandy beach with many resorts on the shore. We took nothing of value but our back
pack and cell phone with us. We heard on the following day Monday someone was robbed of cell phone and money by knife point doing the same walk we did. We took the water taxi from then on. A shame because it is a nice casual walk with few rock scrambles.

West End

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You are bombarded by many venders wanting to sell you a tour , massage or clothes or jewelry, braid your hair.We just politely said no thank you. We were there for two weeks and was asked by same people every day. We enjoyed the walk and talked to some people along the way.

West bay
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We had a pizza at Bananerama .Bacon, Chicken and ranch dressing. We brought a to go container for left overs. This is encouraged to cut down on garbage. The local beer, Salva Vida and Barena were both good. It was so windy there were no water taxis so we took a land taxi back for 15$.

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Monday Jan 15th Very windy and rainy. Rented a car from Roatan Rental for the day $60 for 24 hours. We stopped at Anthony's Key a huge diving resort and walked around. They have the dolphin adventure there. Cruise ships bring groups to swim with them and for a show.

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Next stop Larson Rock beautiful quiet a

We went to French Harbor and ate at Gio's
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a place where rental guy suggested. We ordered Bocca Municipal for $4O had shrimp, squid, lobster, chicken, steak, fish and conch accompanied by fried plantain. We ate on the porch that has a nice view.

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We stopped at large pirate ship on hill that is vacated. Used to be nightclub allegedly owned by the mafia and shut down a few years ago
We took pictures because we thought our grandsons would like it.

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Tuesday morning Jim returned car and we walked to West End and ate at Por Que No a Mediterranean restaurant. The husband waited on us and the wife was the cook We shared a sampler plate for lunch. Sitsuka a n eggplant tomato sauce with baked potato, Couscous salad with cucumber tomato onion and homemade garlic sauce. Borek a Turkish homemade pastry and cheese. Mucver, zucchini pancakes egg and onion. I had a Turkish coffee and we shared a brownie and cheese cake with ice cream. Yum

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We had pork chops and pasta salad for supper back at the house.

Wed was still cloudy so we walked up to the gas station. We went to a talk on the coca bean and tried several chocolates. We then walked to see where Roatan Oasis restaurant was. We walked back and took a path that came through across from Thai restaurant. Roatan Oasis is closed on the weekends.

We talked to a couple who had recommended a restaurant above Roatan Rental called Oleaje, They have only been open two weeks The owner Paul waited on us and his wife Ali was the cook. They were out of Lobster for sandwich but had an eggplant and pasta special. She brought us a red pepper tapas. I had the special and Jim had a Patella. Both were good. Paul makes the homemade bread. We were talking to another couple on island for 3 months from Wisconsin. They joined our table and we had a great visit for a couple hours.

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Thursday Left at 1000 walked West End still windy but weather getting better. We stopped at Sundowns a cute bar on the water. We had Monkey La La and a Zack Attack. Vodka, lime mix and coco loco. I had a blue cheese burger.

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The bartender was from Canada and also a diver. I finished reading a book by David Baladacci the guilty
and we watched ND girls play Tenn they came back from down 23 points to win.

Friday Jan 19th Yea a sunny day. We walked to halfmoon bay and snorkeled by Gingers. We ended up staying there all day. Used chairs free if had beer there . Jeff and Ginger have had the restaurant for one year from Texas a great friendly couple.

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Sat Jan 20th My 61th birthday
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They had someone coming to clean the apartment so went to Olejae for breakfast,

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Ate supper at Argentine Grill. We arrived at Happy hour and I had a Tequila Sunrise. I have not had one of those since I was 18 and we ate at Motts Apple Core and you could drink at 18 in Michigan. Coconut shrimp was good and Jim had red snapper it turned out to be a beautiful night.

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Had pulled pork sandwich and fish tacos at Bananarama

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Tuesday had a huge lightening and thunder storm in morning. Headed over to West bay by water taxi at 1130. Two cruise ships in port so lots of excursions in water. We went out to second reef and started going to left towards the wall

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The beach was so busy we took water taxi back and ate at Sundowners I had chicken sandwich and husband had Hamburger.

Wed

We were up early and decided to go to west Bay and beat the cruise ship crowd in the water to snorkel. We had to wait 15 minutes to get someone else to ride water taxi with . We got in the water to snorkel about 830.

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We ate at Bananarama Jim had a banana split drink and we shared chips, cheese and bean dip.IMG_E6648.jpgIMG_6650.jpgIMG_6649.jpg

We walked to restaurant Olejae I had tuna salad and Jim had omelet. They offered at free Argentina Tango lesson at 630.We had fun and the instructors were great.

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Thursday

My stomach feels better was upset during the night. We had homemade biscuit Ali had given us with eggs. Rainy. Went to walk into town and I could not find rain jacket. I left it at tango lesson. Jim wanted to try out food at Salty dog the new cook Anthony is Thurs, Friday and Sat. We went up to get jacket and low and behold they had Lobster sandwich. It was meant to be we enjoyed and she brought me a fancy coffee at the end. I wish Paul and Ali good luck with their new restaurant. We have enjoyed everything there

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It poured for three hours so we spent time reading.

Friday

last day we walked to halfmoon bay and ate local Baleades at Yahonreh. I had avocado one and Jim had chriszo one. Very tasty and I had coffee and Jim had large juice and all was for $6.

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We walked in town in afternoon

Ate at the Salty dog and on Thurs, Friday and Saturday Anthony cooks Louisiana food.

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Anthony came out and sat with us and talked about a half hour. One of the things I have loved about Roatan is how friendly the owners of restaurants. We had met Anthony a few days ago in the Choc factory and he told us about his place. 0CCA525CE01583E2CF2DD16E81AC54D7.jpg

Sunday Jan 21

This is out of order but for some reason will not insert where it is suppose to so here goes. Sunday the water taxis were running so we took a taxi over to West Bay.

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They ask you to take your shoes off at door. Cherie was the greeter and a local who came and sat down and talked to us since we were the only ones there early. Santiago was our waiter.

Since we ate the the chair guy set us up with free longer to use for the day in the shade.
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Before we left Jim went into East bay to take some pictures,

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Jims favorite spot dodging the raindrops on dock at Casa Amarilla

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My thoughts on Roatan. Even though the weather was not the best we had a great time. Would I come back? In a heart beat. The vibe and friendliness of people was amazing. We had more conversations with locals and owners of restaurants. I like the rustic feel of West End versus Resort atmosphere of West Bay.

Saturday we caught a ride to airport with Deanne and Marks neighbor. Their car was in the garage waiting on parts. We arrived at 1030 for a 1245 flight. Airport pretty unorganized for a small place but the important thing is we left on time. Layover in Miami 3 hours which to go through customs took a while. We ended up with a hour before we left so ate there. Arrived in Ohare early and our son picked us up. We climbed in bed at Midnight to our warm water bed.Yes we still have a water bed we are such a 70's couple

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Posted by Cindygad 13:01 Archived in Honduras Comments (0)

Summit Oct 28th 2017

7 Night Caribbean cruise, San juan, Barbados, St Lucia, Martinique, Antigua, St Kitts

This trip was a roller coaster of emotions. Minimal for us compared to all the hurricane ravished islands. Irma and Maria were so damaging to so many island. Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St John, St Croix, St Martin, San Juan, Barbuda.

We planed to go to the island of Culebra for 4 days prior to cruise. That was not an option they had no power. San Juan airport and port was open but island was still devastated. is it right to still go on a vacation when people are suffering so much? We waffled back and forth. The cruise was past the cancel date to get refund so we went.

We went to Chicago to stay the night before cruise. We always go to San Juan the day before but due to hurricane we took the risk of getting there on same day. We stayed at Best Westerns in Des Plains. We ate at Paradise pub a Guy Fieri Diners, drive ins and dives. We had the best strawberry malt and patty melt. So good and greasy!

Travel day Oct 28
Up early took 6 am transfer to airport. Hotel manager gave us a muffin and yogurt to go.We were TSA pre approved but my suitcase got pulled when going through the scanner. Oops we had put yogurt in carry on bag to eat on plane. it was little but was 4 oz instead of 3 oz. Lesson learned check out those sizes. The TSA lady was very nice and gave them to us to eat anyway. Kudos to them for catching.

Arrival in San Juan on time. Airport was hot and baggage delivery slow. Totally understandably with the situation they were going through.We took taxi and the driver was glad travelers were coming back. He still did not have power but was resilient and his happy spirit amazing. He was thankful to be working and to get some normalcy back in his life.

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Arrived on Celebrity Summit at 330 plenty of time before departure time. Room 3118 Room steward was John. We like the room location on ship. It is a simple room with window. We rarely get a balcony because of cost so we can travel more often.

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We had the classic drink package included in the cruise. It was nice to have a glass of wine with dinner and especially the coffee in Cafe Bacio included.

Had select type dining which means you don't have a set dining time. We had standard fire drill and then walked on deck after eating. To bed at 1045.

Sunday Oct 29th Only sea day

Up at 6 Jim went and got me a coffee Americano from Cafe Al Bacio.

Ate breakfast in dining room love fresh figs and bagel and salmon and egg Benedict.

We went to the gym for a hour and I love working out looking out over the water.

Out in sun for short period and found some shade to read in.

Sat next to Bill and Karen from New Jersey that we would enjoy talking with throughout the week. Supper of Salmon Tartar, rack of lamb and apple crumble. Had Terraza Reserve Malbec for wine.

Danced some calories off to The friends project the dance band that was was very good.

Monday October 30th Barbados 8-5 Sunny

Took a taxi to Accra Beach or Rockley beach a 20 min drive 15$ FOR Two a quiet beach we have been to before. We rented two chairs and umbrella for shade.15$ We stayed from 10-2. Jim walked across street to "Just Grilling" I had always wanted to try flying fish sandwich. We each had
one for 10$ each.

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Had lovely scallop appetizer, apple salad and seafood medley, We danced a waltz to house band and went to martini bar, I tried a butterscotch.
We ended the night listening to a Billy Joel and Elton John by one of band members on piano .

Tuesday October 31 St Lucia

Jim is such a sweetheart bringing me an Americana Coffee while I get ready. He can not stand the smell of coffee but knows I need it to get my morning started. We are not fan of buffet so usually go to dining room for breakfast. Had a apple pancake and fruit plate.

We have been to St Lucia several times and have visited Pitons, Done an island tour and catamaran tour in past. This trip we are keeping it low key and walking to a beach. I found good directions on line and we headed out. We have never been so bombarded by so many vendors on the way out of the building. We kept walking and they said the beach was too far. 2 miles on beautiful day not a bad walk at all. They told us it was unsafe to walk but I had read this was fine and we kept walking. If we would not of been seasoned travelers this would of been very over whelming. We felt totally safe and arrived at Vigie beach, We walked the whole distance of beach and sat up our parachute sheet beach blanket on the sand under a large tree. There are chairs on beach if you choose to rent.

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Spent a great morning here and started walking back to ship and taxi stopped and we took ride back for 10 bucks.

Ate lunch at buffet and listen to great pianist playing

Danced to Up and Up party band before and after eating. We like the waiter Richard and ask for a table in his section everynight.
Had lamb in puffed pastry and tiramisu.

Wed Nov 1 Fort de France Martinique

Due to islands that were hit this was an replacement island. We have been here one time before and I remembered I did not come away with favorable memories. Not sure why just a certain vibe you get. I am all about second chances so we got off and took 10 ferry to Du Bout 7$ round trip.

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We came back at noon grabbed a qiock bite for lunch. I read and Jim walked back into town to take some pictures

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We got a special invitation to come to helipad for sail a way,

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Friday Nov 3rd St Kits

We wanted to go to island of Nevis but ship had short stay only till 3 pm so took a taxi to beach. We joined a group of 8 and driver took us to
Cockoshell beach

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The driver stopped on way back to get some photos.

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Last night on ship walked around and checked out newly added movie area on deck.
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Sat Nov 4th

When we got of ship took a tour of Old San Juan so we did not need to spend as much time in airport. It was hot and air conditioned bus was good. There were only a couple of shops open and power trucks were everywhere downtown trying to get power up. Lots of power is from top of buildings as not to take away from character of Old San Juan. Medical ship still in harbor giving aid as needed.

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Posted by Cindygad 06:49 Comments (0)

Virgin Gorda 2017

First and not last visit

We had spent two glorious weeks on St John. Would all the effort it takes to get to Virgin Gorda be worth it?? Up at 530 left Coral Bay at 730. Jim dropped me and luggage off while he returned jeep. Since we were leaving on Saturday and the direct ferry is on Sunday and Thursday we had to take the ferry to Tortola west end.
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Went through customs and we claimed food we had brought. A friend told me they might not let beef products through because of mad cow disease. We ate everything that contained beef in St John. We have a polar bear cooler and use techni ice to keep things frozen. We brought salmon, shrimp bacon and pork loin. I had bought our breads,and other needs in St John. We had six eggs left and did not know if they would make it unbroken but gave it a try. Everything arrived safely and we were allowed to bring everything we claimed in the cooler.I think we had to pay 10$ exit fee??? What we payed it and got a taxi to take us to Road Town. Plenty of taxis were waiting. We arrived and waited about a hour and finally were on our way. It took less than a half hour. We rented from Leverick Bay and she had arranged a Jimmy for us from L&S. He was waiting for us at ferry and we signed the contract on hood of car. Ok this is easy peezy, He gave us directions and a map to leverick Bay.
Wow this island is easy to get around. Found where we were to check in and then we followed the lady up to Sea Breeze. My stomach was doing flip flops. Would this place be clean and bug free? There had not been any recent reviews so I was very nervous, We arrived and walked down the steps. Sea Breeze is separate and Sea View is a Two bedroom place close by. No one was at Sea View this week but it seemed like it would be private enough if there had been. I took a deep breath as she opened the door and wahla it was clean and even more updated than the pictures. Thank you God. It is a one bedroom with private bath and efficiency kitchen and full size refrigerator. Perfect. every thing we would need.The view was better than I thought it would be. We actually ended up liking staying on this end of island.From our place to baths one half hour.We unloaded our cooler and was off to Hog Heaven for barbecue

Sea breeze
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Hog heaven was a delight I had rib meal and husband had pork loin. What a view.

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Necker island We heard that President Obama was vacationing here on Necker island island owner by Sir Richard Branson

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Sunday 29th

Ate eggs and bacon sandwich. We drove to Spring Bay, It takes one half hour from Leverick Bay

We arrived at Spring Bay at 0900 only ones there. Able to find shade. What a beautiful spot,We stayed until 2 pm and then went to eat at top of baths

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WE went out to check out the old copper mine

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Tonight's supper left over ribs and salmon.

Monday

We decided to try Mountain Trunk for the day. Thanks to ABC for directions in Nail bay look for sign to Mountain trunk beach. The pole was down so parked at bottom turned around. It was overcast and little drizzly so we parked under a palapas and did not get wet. Read and enjoyed tranquility of being on beach alone. Pretty good size beach We were alone till 1230. We snorkeled to right and found it to be our best snorkel all week. Also snorkeled across reef to left side of beach.

We had looked for M&M bakery yesterday and could not find it. I went back and looked for more details on internet. Driving south towards baths, past Grandma's kitchen turn left on one way road at Napa auto parts. There was a very friendly island lady working the counter. She said it is open 6 pm to 11 am. We got two huge donuts lemon turnover, so flaky, large coconut macaroons, and brownie in 3 by 4 inch container all for 950 good for island prices. Not so good for waistline.

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The weather was overcast and little drizzly. We went to Mountain trunk beach found in Nail bay follow the sign. Thank you ABD for directions the pole was down and we parked at bottom after turning around.Beach was empty at 900 We set up under one of the nice palpayas Beach is large

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We read and had beach to ourselves until 1230. We then snorkeled to the right and found it to be our best snorkel of the week. We then snorkeled the reef clear over to left.

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Afternoon was sunny and we left at 415. Got back and found out we had maid service I did not know was included. My husbands feelings was hurt because she had remade his bed. Nice addition We could hear music playing from down in leverick bay. Had Salmon and rice for supper.

Tuesday Jan 31

We parked at Spring Bay walked to trunk bay did not stay here just walked through

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Valley trunk Bay

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and then on up the rope to valley trunk. Ok we found our home, our favorite spot. This beach is huge and empty. Very few people find this and it is mainly used by boaters mooring off shore. Another elderly couple who had been coming for 22 years was ahead of us walking in. He had walking poles and she was carrying everything. I was worried about getting up rope and thought if they can do it I can too. Seriously it was not bad at all. We let them get their spot and then tried to find some shade. I cannot have full sun. That is one of the differences of St John VS Virgin Gorda not as many shady areas. We found a spot and decided this is our happy place!!!!

I had had no reception for my phone ATT previously... All of sudden ping ping ping I had reception. It would end of being only place on island we had reception. It was CRAZY because every night back at place would check in with oldest boy who was expecting their third child a Girl any moment now. He messaged me that her water had broke and today would be the day we would have our first Grand daughter. At 1243 Emile Olive was born,
Thanks to technology he was able to send us a picture. We are truly blessed!!! I was sitting on a gorgeous beach crying tears of joy!! Life is good.

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We stopped at the Rock to see what time they opened and made reservations for 6 pm, We never minded the drive back to Leverick bay and would stay in this area again. My husband said driving Virgin Gorda is very easy. Roads are wider going over mountain and no traffic.

the Rock Ambiance, Ambiance, Ambiance

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I had espresso martini and Jim had amaretto sour

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We shared a ceaser salad

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I had lobster spaghetti

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Jim had seafood

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You guessed it no desserts, I could see the twinkle in my husbands eyes we were headed to M&M bakery for a treat. They had chickens that looked good for 12$ but will have to get next time still have food left we need to eat up.

Wed

We went to Savannah Bay.. Lots of parking. First ones there 900 they have several palpays on beach but unfortunately the roofs are mostly gone, We found some shade and enjoyed. The surf was up too much to snorkel. Reef looks good here.Read and enjoyed surroundings,
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We found this a beautiful beach and loved walking the shore.

We went to Little Dix to check it out. The guard let us through and this place is totally being redone, Looks like new sewage, roofs.Not sure how long till it is to reopen but it looks like they have a long way to go. Looked at the bay and it looks beautiful. The guards had changed and we got a dirty look when we left. I do not think we were suppose to be in there. OH Well

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Thursday
you just gota do the baths we had been here twice before years ago.Wading through the colorful coves and granite boulders of The Baths in Virgin Gorda is undeniably the most notable experience you can have in the British Virgin Islands. Travelers and experts alike agree: It's the must-see attraction of the BVI archipelago. Massive smooth ash gray boulders of varying sizes rise from the sea's crystalline waters, making a maze of sorts for travelers to wade or swim through. Climbing through is not hard.

We arrived at 0830 and had the caves to ourselves We payed 3 $ a person and took the path to Devils Bay.

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We went back to Savannah Bay to see if it was calmer. We tried to snorkel but all churned up went to mountain trunk and spent the afternoon.

Went down to Leverick Bay to eat at bottom restaurant. Beautiful view of the bay and fish tacos were good.

Friday

Last day we went back to Valley Trunk. When we arrived same older couple arrived after us. They were hurrying and I think they thought we would get their favorite spot. I said take your time. 'you have earned your spot. What a lovely day. Beach to ourselves with other couple and a few from moored boats later in day.

Stopped at Hog heaven for pulled pork sandwiches. and Mudslide drinks.

Time to pack. We loved Virgin Gorda and will be back. Maybe 2019. We really did not get to experience the good snorkeling with the waves being up most day.

Sat left at 730 left jeep at ferry, keys under visor, Ferry left 0830. Took a hour and a half to get to Charlotte Amile.Went through customs and taxis were waiting. Arrive airport 1115. Short lines and in Airport 1145. Ate a snack and waited for our flight 150 to Chicago. Left on time and arrived at 6pm. Called our son after luggage arrived and was only our way home. We are such a 80's couple and love our waterbed. My husband says the trip would be perfect If they only had waterbeds. Next year 3 weeks St John but Virgin Gorda you are special and we hope to return.

Posted by Cindygad 10:06 Archived in British Virgin Islands Comments (0)

St John 2017 Part 1

St John 2017

This is our tenth trip to St John. We usually spend the night in Chicago and leave our car but we were cringing at the price to leave our car for 3 weeks. So our youngest son said he would take us and pick us up. What a treat! We left home at 5:30 am and arrived about 7:30 am in Chicago. We had a direct flight to St Thomas with United. We a had a little bit of time to waste so we went to the United lounge for breakfast and to wait for our 9:50 flight. Our flight took off on time. We arrived in St Thomas at 3:30. We took a taxi from the airport to Red Hook and caught the 5 pm ferry to Cruz Bay, St John.

The weather for the two weeks we were on the rock was the best we have ever had. It rained only twice during the day those two weeks. The first time was while we were unloading our suitcases at Angel Roost and the second time about a half hour the day before we left. The winds were strong the first five days but snorkeling on the south side was smooth and very clear. The rest of trip the winds were light and great snorkeling.

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We rented our Jeep from Courtesy and purchased some groceries at Starfish market and headed over to Coral Bay to our home away from home for two weeks, Angels Roost. Arrived and was talking to home owners Larry and Jane when had a cloud burst of liquid sunshine. Off to eat at Aqua Bistro for our favorite crunchy grouper and a Lime in a Coconut drink.

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Sunday Jan 15th Sunny

Up early, drinking coffee, and watching the sun come up. One of my favorite times of the day. Had bacon and egg mac-muffins for breakfast.

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I let my husband pick the first beach and he picked Frances. We arrived at 0900. We snorkeled to left and saw some squid and a small shark. Our old faithful underwater camera, DC 10 died. We saw some bubbles go up and that was all. We were disappointed it being our first day and all. The disappointment disappeared as fast as it came after just taking in everything that the beach and seas have to offer, Enjoyed the beach and stayed till 3 pm.

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Driving home stopped at overlook

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We had Steak and potatoes on the grill.

We are huge Packer fans and watched the Packers win over Dallas 31-28. What a game. GO PACK GO.

Monday Sunny winds 18

We went to Little Lameshur after having blueberry pancakes for breakfast. The road has really gotten a lot worse since last year. The holes have gotten wider and deeper. Even gained a few more. The wash outs have become wider and deeper. We met a car on our way out. It did not adventure very far. The car turned around after the first encounter with the washouts and holes.

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We sat up our chairs on the far left. We snorkeled on the left and at rocks in middle. Did not see anything unusual. Read and walked to the ruins.

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We went to beach bum and bought a go pro 5 the only water camera they had. We did not want to waste time going to St Thomas so Go Pro it was Only problem was all the directions were in Spanish. The girl at beach bum helped us set it up.

We had met a couple from Minnesota a few years ago that were on the island again. They had just spent 10 days on Virgin Gorda. Virgin Gorda is our destination for week three. We met them for supper at Indigo Grill. We all had fish tacos that were amazing. I had a mango mojito that was also pretty tasty. We had a nice discussion about Virgin Gorda.

Tuesday 17th Sunny winds 17ENE

Went to Grootpan and snorkeled to left middle and to right a short distance.

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Today, at Grootpan, is one of the days when something happened I will always remember. We were sitting on beach reading when out of corner of our eyes we see a older gentleman, Peter, walking on the very rocky beach with a cane. It took him forever to reach the beach. He stopped, put his cane in the rocks, hung his shirt on it, put his snorkel and mask on, and scooted down the hill to the water. He floated and snorkeled and the expression on his face was priceless. While he was in the water his joints moved freely with no effort. Getting out was a whole another adventure . We wanted to give him his dignity but getting up was just too hard for him. My husband went down to give him a hand to help him stand on rocky beach and make it up the hill. We talked to him and found out Peter had built a home near here in the mid 90's and had sold it last year. He was back staying for 10 days. Seeing him trying to enjoy the simple things of the past warmed my heart in so many ways. I hope someone is there for me to help me along the rocky paths of life.

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Tonight we had honey pecan chicken from Caribbean oasis

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Wed

We had planned on snorkeling with reef to peak
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.We asked to have Steve as our guide. I do not know him except have followed his trip reports of island for years as Augie on virgin island forum,. before he moved here with his lovely wife Leslie.We met Steve at Hansen bay.We had a double Kayak We went to a hidden reef past pelican point snorkeled for over a hour and half at otter inlet. Great snorkel our camera battery died before we got very many pictures.We saw a star fish, lionfish, school of angelfish, puffer fish

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We got done at 2 pm We had pork loin and pasta for supper

Thursday 19th Winds 7E and sunny

Finally the winds are dying down and it was a perfect snorkel for Haulover North. Very clear water with large schools of fish.

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Got to Miss Lucy at 1120. We got the table by the water for the first time.

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Grouper Ruben and homemade fries. AWESOME

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Friday Jan 20 Jan My 60th birthday Sunny wind 1 E

We snorkeled the three mooring balls going into Leinster Bay.

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I have been lucky enough to celebrate my birthday on St John the last 9 years. We ate the first six years at ZoZo's in their old place and once at the restaurant at Caneel. We always loved our meal but the last time I decided I wanted to try something different the next year. For two years, we ate at Asolaire, the view there is to die for, the food is just OK.

This year we went back to Zozo's

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My husband had asked for a table by the rail

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We shared the Calamari for a appetizer

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I had a wonderful Watermelon salad, watermelon, pineapple, cucumber arugula salad, riccotta salata with fresh basil and vanilla vinaigrette, My mouth still waters when I think of it.

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I chose a appetizer portion of fresh Pappardelle wild mushrooms, shaved pecorino and white truffle sauce

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Jim had artic chard that he loved

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We shared a Carmel molten cake

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Turning 60 was not so bad

We went to Salt Pond 0830 and did our annual hike to Rams Head. We took our time and enjoyed the views.

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It was a sunny day we ate lunch and snorkeled the rocks in the middle. It was very calm, saw an octopus in deep water, and an green spotted eel coming back in. The photo does not do it justice it was a vibrant green and blue.

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It clouded up in afternoon, We stayed till about 3 o'clock. Supper was hamburger on the grill and Jim went and got a to go order of onion rings from Aqua Bistro.

Sunday 22 winds N 8 m/hr Sunny

We did the Waterlemon snorkel around the cay, I always love this snorkel my husband not so much. There was a fair amount of current but he said he was ok and it seemed to push us around the good side to fast. We should of snorkeled it a second time. We saw our first lobster on the sandy area.

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You could not park at the gate and the spot we had used earlier in the week was taken. My husband dropped me off and parked up at Dennis Bay and walked down. We went to Oppenheimer beach for lunch and afternoon siesta. Surf was up.

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Had sausage and potatoes on the grill. Watched Atlanta beat our Packers.

Monday we hiked a half hour to tet to Brown Bay, We got there at 0900 and snorkeled for a hour to the left. It was very calm and we were able to get around the point. It was my favorite snorkel yet.

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GOPR0698

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GOPR0714

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left and got last spot at Maho we stayed until 330. Had small turkey breast on grill and garlic mashed potatoes for supper,

Tues 24th

We went to Dennis Bay from900 to 330. We snorkeled to right.

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Posted by Cindygad 07:23 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (0)

St John Part 2

St John 2 weeks Virgin Gorda1 week

Wed Sunny

We went to Great Lameshur to snorkel. Water was calm there were no waves but the water was all churned up and the visibility very poor.

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We dried off and went to Miss Lucy's for lunch

Jim loves mangroves so I decided to give Princess snorkel another try. The water is shallow and you do not wear fins. Last time I jumped on his back because it freaked me out. Still did not love but I gave it another try. Of course the outer areas in deeper water are better but it is easy access

from shore at Princess.

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GOPR0848

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Had pig in blankets and pasta and green beans for supper

Thursday Caneel

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and walked to Honeymoon beach and left our chairs and cooler.

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We hiked to Salomon and when we arrived at 0900 only one other girl on beach. We talked to her and she was traveling alone with out a jeep. She had done alot in 4 days and even went to salt pond by bus. She certainly did a lot and it was interesting to hear how others travel. She was kind enough to take our picture of the two of us. We are not very good as selfies.

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We stayed till 1230 and hiked back to Honeymoon. The beach had been invaded and was packed. We ate our lunch and then went to
Caneel to snorkel from Caneel beach to Scott

Had pork loin on grill and sides leftover in fridge.

Friday our last day before going to Virgin Gorda we traditionally pick our favorite beach to veg out on, Denis Bay won and what a difference a few days. The surf was up and waves were crashing and made for a really relaxing day.

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When leaving St John I feel so much better when I know I am already booked for next Jan. One week at Lunazul and two weeks at Angels Roost.

Goodby Angel Roost until next year
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Posted by Cindygad 07:20 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (0)

Part 2 Reflection 2016

Villefrance, Marseille

REFLECTION

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Villefranche

We were here two years ago and went to the Medieval village of EZe, We decided if we ever got back we wanted to explore this quiet seaside port. Most cruise passengers get off and go to Nice, Monte Carlo or Monaco . ,The sun was out and we decided to keep it low key and hike then enjoy the seaside town.

From boat

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We decided to walk to Fort Alban Up Up Up

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Going down to port was harder due to rougher terrain but we enjoyed the scenery

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Marseille,
I was looking for something to do in port since we had hiked to Notre Dame before,I found the electronic bike tour to caliquqnes over by Casis If you know me you know I rarely do ship excursions. I do not like the cattle call big bus excursions, I researched and found this tour had good ratings and promised to get us back 1 hour prior to ship leaving.. It was a gloomy day with a slight drizzle. We wore our rain gear and took cruise bus for 10 dollars to the port. They left you off pretty far from old port. We started walking a half hour to theater where we were to meet our tour Guide. At 0930 our French tour guide Amine greeted us and said we were waiting for two more. First girl was a Japan student or spoke very little English. The second girl an Ecuadorian girl who spoke only Spanish. We had a very diverse group. We walked to garage where we were fitted with bikes and helmets; We then went to first stop an overlook of old port and wonderful views down into port.Our guide received a call and said an Italian Dr would be joining us, Our guides English was great he was an interpreter for American business during the week.

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Next stop was a charming fishing village that was nestled into the bay Vallon des Auffes is one of those places in Marseille where the hustle of the city disappears and the subset from the other side of the road are spectacular. Beautiful town under the bridge, I love the colorful fishing boats that are more reminiscent of the little coastal villages.

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WE then went to restaurant L' Auberge du Corasire Chez Paul. When we arrived the place was empty. They seated us at a nice table and this is where things started to fall apart. The girls had no idea what they wanted to order. Amine took them to look at fish so they could decide..Before we knew it the restaurant was completely full with local people. They knew what they wanted and ordered before our girls could make up their mind. So our nice lunch stop became a two hour lunch. Food was good but we needed to get going. Jim voiced his concern a bout making it back to ship due to delay. Amine said no worries he would get us back in time

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The tour had been awesome to this point. Amine said we are going to pick up the pace and we were off. We stopped in a park and one of the girls bike was acting up so guide traded bikes with her. We rode for quite a while and then my I looked at watch and I said Amine you are going to have to have the owner meet us with the car to get us back in time. No problem he called and made arrangements. We were on our way again when he said to stop we had lost both of the girls what do you think the Japan girl was doing? Taking pictures!!!! She could care less if we made it back in time.He told Jim and I to go ahead. I heard him holler to turn around. I yelled at Jim and then I FELL. To BE CONTINUED

hhhh

Posted by Cindygad 11:18 Archived in France Comments (1)

Do we make it back to ship Barcelona, Tenerify

Barcelona, Tenerify

Continuation When we last left off the Italian Dr had screeched up beside me and got out his Dr Kit. .I told him I was ok and we just needed to leave to try and catch the ship. in the distance I saw the owner in his car. Jim and I took off towards him. He took our bikes apart and he said lets get you back to the ship. He had us zooming underneath the port in a tunnel. He was speeding and I had a flash back to Princess Dianna and her getting killed in the tunnels. Jim heard him say I think it is this way. Jim and I made eye contact like REALLY. Is this happening to us. I was watching each minute fly buy. He made it to the port. We just had to make it past the guards. The first gate went up and he said I hope the guards at next one are in a good mood. We got lucky three pretty girls where walking in and their eyes were on them. The gate went up and we were back, We took off running and made it around the barriers. We made it back 420. Nothing so beautiful as the Ding of our passes going through gate

Barcelona We took the bus from port to the world trade center. We started up Las Rambles a beautiful strolling boulevard. We had been to Barcelona before so just wanted to soak up the area by wandering around. We went into the Gothic area and enjoyed this area and the Roman time period. This place has narrow twisting lanes and undiscovered courtyards. We had so much fun wandering into little shops, musty antique shops and found several shoe stores.

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It was an overcast day.

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We decided we would eat lunch at a tapa resturant. We checked out the menu at one but they were full the girl said we could wait at the bar.
We sat down and the waitress showed us the bar menu and we decided just to eat there with the special.

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We had tickets for Casa Mlia or La Pedrera for anytime today. The sky's were clearing up so we headed that way. The place is sometimes called the quarry has the much photographed exterior. Gaudi house offers up close looks at Modernista architecture.

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I needed to use the bathroom and so we stopped at a local coffee shop, if you take it outside instead of sitting down it is much cheaper 120 E and the purchase gives you the privilege of using the bathroom.

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The ship stayed overnight in Barcelona

We left about 10 and went back in othic area and to Boqueria Market. This lively produce market is an explosion of colors and smells.

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We went back to the ship and went to the Persian Gardens. We had a free coupon for day in port. What a relaxing afternoon, Enjoyed the rain forest showers, infra red room sauna, hot beds and resting on heated loungers Went in cold room last.

WE had two sea days before our last stop. We spent them reading, going to watercolor class, scrap-booking, going to the gym. The average age of cruisers was 70's . I have never seen the ships gyms so full. These older people sure work at keeping in shape. Dancing before and after dinner was great on this ship even though the dance floor was small. The two bands were very good.Strolling Quartet and Sound Stars.

Teneifry Canary island was our last stop before week Transatlantic

View from ship

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First time in Canary we joined a group from cruise critic and Patsy picked us up 13 people at 0930 right off ship, Patsy has been doing tours for 39 years, She cane to islands from USA as a student and fell in love with island. She came back and met her husband who speaks no English. She would end up being one of my favorite quides. Very vibrant and educated,We went to town of La Laguna a historic district. The Tour started 0930 and we got back at 0345 cost was 42 Euro a person.I would recommend this tour to anyone coming here,

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We stopped to eat on way up. We ate with Ken and Anna We had met them before in 2008 on a cruise. WE had a local soup with canary potatoes, meat, chirizo sausage and noodles with chunk of crusty bread. Had local beer Dorida with mugs of Teide peek on them.

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This was our last port and we would start the last 7 days across the Atlantic, We could not believe how smooth and sunny the
crossing would be. We spent lots of time on balcony. Almost everyday we would gain a hour. We ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room and enjoyed sharing a table with new people. We found people were generally very friendly and seasoned travelers. We learned alot from them and their travels.

Some of our tasty treats
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Halloween on ship

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Dancing every evening before and after dinner.Jim wanted to move the Huge rose when no one was looking because it took up so much of dance floor.90_IMG_4222.jpgIMG_4223.jpg

Sunsets at sea

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Last late night stroll on ship

Posted by Cindygad 11:04 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

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