Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Ships we’ve sailed…

Came across a website with cruise ship size information.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the traditional cruise ships that we’ve sailed on with the size of the current largest ship, Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.  Harmony of the Seas which weighs 226,963 gross registered tons, carries 5,479 guests, and 2,100 crew members.

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Holland American Lines / Eurodam (2016): 
GRT: 86,700 
Length: 935 ft
Beam: 105 ft
Speed: 23 knots
Registry: Netherlands
Passengers: 2104
Crew: 929
Shipyard: Fincantieri

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Carnival / Victory (2010):
GRT: 101,509
Length: 893 ft
Beam: 116 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 2758
Crew: 1100
Shipyard: Fincantieri

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Carnival / Legend (2009):
GRT: 88,500
Length: 963 ft
Beam: 106 ft
Speed: 22 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 2124
Crew: 930
Shipyard: Aker Yards 

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Celebrity / Galaxy (2007): 
GRT: 77,713
Length: 866 ft
Beam: 105 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Bahamas
Passengers: 1850
Crew: 909
Shipyard: Meyer Werft 

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Celebrity / Horizon (2000):
GRT: 47,427 
Length: 682 ft
Beam: 95 ft
Speed: 22 knots
Registry: Bahamas
Passengers: 1875
Crew: 670
Shipyard: Meyer Werft

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Dolphin Cruise Line / Sea Breeze (1997):
GRT: 20,416
Length: 606 ft
Beam: 79 ft
Speed: 21 knots
Registry: Panama
Passengers: 840
Crew: 400
Shipyard: Ansaldo Sestri Ponente 

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Premier Cruise Lines / Starship Atlantic (1993):
GRT: 35,143 
Length: 672 ft
Beam: 90 ft
Speed: 19 knots 
Registry: N/A 
Passengers: 1062
Crew: 535
Shipyard: CNIM

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Christmas cruise on Holland American Lines Eurodam 2016

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Over the Christmas holiday, we spent two relaxing weeks cruising around the Caribbean on the MS Eurodam.

On board we ate some amazing food.

The staff was awesome.

Holland American Line’s private island provided a nice beach day.

On Turks and Caicos, we hung out at the Margaritaville pool.

In San Juan, we tasted the original Piña Colada at Restaurant Barrachina, walked around Old San Juan, and sampled some local chocolate at Casa Corte.

From Ft. Lauderdale, we took a tour to the Florida Everglades.

We made fishy friends in Grand Cayman.

We explored Cozumel on a rail buggy adventure tour.

We wandered around Key West…visiting Mel Fisher’s Museum, ate Maine lobster rolls at DJ’s Clam Shack (which was featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives), meandered through the Key West Cemetery, and did a mini pub crawled – stopping into Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s Saloon.

After the cruise we spent a few days exploring and eating our way around south Florida and the Upper Keys.

 

We finally made it to the Coral Castle.

Had an awesome fish sandwich at Robbie’s Marina.

We spent a few hours exploring the displays at The History of Diving Museum.

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We spent a morning exploring the Fruit and Spice Park.

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We had great pub grub at the M.E.A.T. Eatery and Taproom (another restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).

We visited two wonderful breweries; Islamorada Beer Company and Florida Keys Brewing Company.

The best meal of the trip just might have been at The Fish House (another restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives).

And ended the vacation with a beautiful sunset.

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We have a plan!

Airline travel is no longer the luxurious comfortable method of travel that it once was, and one day our crotchety older selves will no longer be willing to put up with its inconveniences. But until that time, we have decided to explore as much of the world as we can (traveling beyond the borders of the United States of America)…once we have had enough of the cramped airline seats and bad connections, we will acquire a motorhome to become North American nomads exploring as much of the USA (and Canada) that our new “wheels” can conquer. We may also opt for a sailboat to further explore the world…

So, why did we just spend a week of precious vacation time in Colorado? Even the best of plans should be a bit flexible to allow spontaneous moments… And this deviation is all the fault of Frontier Airlines. They had a deal that we just couldn’t pass up. For both of us (and one checked bag), it was $126 round trip ATL to DEN!

We jumped on the flight deal without a single thing “to do/see” planned for the trip. With just a few short weeks to plan, we reached out to our friends on FB and the internet for ideas. And boy oh boy did we find out that there is no shortage of things to do in Colorado.

We had a very busy and awesome vacation, if you weren’t following us on FB here is a trip report. If you ever find yourself in Colorado, you may want to check out some of the awesome places we visited!

Friday, we stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn Atlanta Airport South.  Doing this greatly reduces the chance that any Atlanta traffic will interfere with us getting to the airport on time.  And included in our hotel rate is a weeks worth of airport parking!

Saturday early am, we took a taxi to the ATL airport. The train to the gate was not working, so we had to walk all the way out to our gate in concourse D.

The Atlanta to Denver flight on Frontier Airlines was pretty uneventful…no frills, pay for everything, uncomfortable seats.

After sorting out our rental car (the first had a flat tire), we visited the National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs. Had a great docent-led history tour of their Westpac facility. And had an awesome talk/demonstration on a Link Trainer (aka “Blue box” or “Pilot Trainer”), a flight simulator produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s by the Link Aviation Devices, Inc.

National Museum of WWII Aviation

Link Trainer

Pete with a Lockheed P-38 Lightning

We had lunch at The Airplane Restaurant just down the road a bit from the museum. The food was better than expected and the service was great too.

1953 Boeing KC-97 Tanker


We spent a little time exploring Garden of the Gods (park), even doing a little hiking. The scenery is just gorgeous here.

After our hike, we checked into the Comfort Inn in Pueblo and cleaned up a bit to get ready for dinner out on the town. A little bit about the hotel: we were pleasantly surprised as it was very comfortable with good amenities and great staff.

Our friend Jo came by to pick us up for dinner tonight. She gave us a short little tour of Pueblo, taking us to an overlook of the reservoir. It would have been an awesome spot to view a sunset but the clouds blocked the suns descent.

We had a great dinner with Jo at Tocayo Mexican Grill & Cantina where her niece worked. The food was awesome, and of course the service was good, but even better was the margarita!

We all went for after dinner drinks to PDub Brewing Company, a local brewery and soda fountain. Pete had some tasty craft brews while Jo & Mary enjoyed some unique sodas…sarsaparilla anyone?

Sunday Morning, we went the Colorado State Fair to watch some of the NRCHA/AQHA Cow Horse Show. It wasn’t as exciting as we expected…so, we wandered the grounds taking in some of the other livestock events, like a goat show and long horned cattle show.

Soon, we were hungry for lunch. So we followed our noses into the fair grounds, finding some tasty grilled meats and corn on the cob. While enjoying our lunch, we were entertained by the Fiesta Day Free Entertainment.

Needing a break from the fair, we took Jo’s advice to go explore a local attraction, Bishop Castle. An amazing building and interesting owner who we were able to speak with a little bit.
We had an OK dinner at the Shamrock Brewing Co (they were out of a few things that we had wanted to order).

We returned to the State Fair to watch the Youth Freestyle Reining competition. The kids did great. And this was fun to watch, even tho Mary was distracted and “lured” (LOL) into dog training discussions…imagine running into Schutzhund people at a horse event!

Monday morning, we met Jo and her sister at a famous breakfast burrito restaurant, however it was closed for the holiday. Plan B was set into motion and we ventured to another great restaurant Musso’s for breakfast burritos that soon won’t be forgotten, yum!

After breakfast, we visited Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. Had a great time with the volunteers there!

A space shuttle tire that has actually flown in space.

Pete with an F-104

For lunch we decided to try the Brues Ale House. What a great choice! Good food, great service and irresistible desserts.

Venturing back north towards Denver, we stopped for a brief visit to the US Air Force Academy Chapel. From the visitor center we strolled the one-third-mile paved nature trail walking to the Cadet Chapel that soars 150 feet into the Colorado sky. Our timing was awesome, after briefly visiting the inside of the chapel, we heard the sound of the bugle playing “Retreat”, followed by the playing of the National Anthem. Everyone outside, stopped what they were doing, faced the flag, and placed their right hand over their heart when the National Anthem began to play. Beautiful, yet a poignant reminder of the Airmen and other service members who came before us and the sacrifices they made so we can be where we are today.

Next we walked around the Honor Court, which contains bronze statues and aircraft memorials from various groups.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning (one-quarter scale)

We continued north checking into the Comfort Suites Lakewood/Denver arriving a little too late for the dinner that we had planned….plan b, grab a bite to eat at the next event we have scheduled. This Comfort Inn was also very nice, with good bath amenities and friendly staff.

We had very little time to get cleaned up before heading out for the Sammy Hagar and the Circle concert the at the one and only Red Rocks Amphitheater. The weather could not have been more perfect.  It was an awesome show at an amazing venue. The food at the venue was nothing special but it filled our bellies.

Sammy Hagar rockin’ at Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Tuesday morning, we explored Dinosaur Ridge walking a paved road where alongside of it is evidence of ancient Colorado and the creatures that once lived here…dinosaur tracks!

We had planned to eat at Casa Bonita for dinner last night but ran out of time. So, we decided to fit it into today’s plan. Casa Bonita is more than a Mexican restaurant, it is a tourist destination that just about can’t be described..it must be experienced.

We drove thru the small town of Bailey (where a friend lives, but he was out of town today) on our way to South Park County.

We arrived into the town of Fairplay very late in the afternoon and checked into the Fairplay-Valiton Hotel. The original Fairplay Hotel was built in one of the boom times of the 1800s, and is the site of a number of legends, historical events and ghost stories.  Our room was just big enough to fit the king sized bed.  The bath amenities were pretty good and the staff was great.  The owner even told us a bit about the “spirits” of the hotel.

Briefly we walked Main Street, Front Street, and peered into the South Park City Museum. South Park City Museum, located at the west end of Front Street in the town of Fairplay in Park County, Colorado, is an open-air museum that represents a mining town between 1860 and 1900. Sadly, we did not have time to explore the museum before it closed for the day.

It was a short 2/10ths of a mile walk to South Park Brewing Company. We each got a four beer flight sampler, doing so we sampled almost all of their beers. For the most part we liked all of their offerings. Mary ordered a strange one, Imperial S’mores Stout, and yes it tasted just like we were sitting around a campfire. Since Mary doesn’t like stouts and Peter doesn’t like flavored beer, this was our least favorite, but you gotta give it to them on craftsmanship to be able to come up with such a beer. We had such a good time here; chatting with the locals, eating good food and getting a brewery tour…it was a little bit sad when closing time rolled around.

Wednesday morning, we walked on down the street to the Brown Burro Cafe for breakfast. Such a small town, guess who we ran into? The owners of the brewery having breakfast at the table next to us!

We checked out of the Fairplay-Valiton Hotel and drove off down the road to American Safari Ranch where we had a 2-hr horseback ride followed by a 1-hr ATV ride. We had a great time with Devon, our guide, on the horses. The weather was perfect and our horses (Gypsy for Mary, Breckenridge for Pete) were well behaved. After horseback riding, the ATV was a little anticlimactic.

Back to Fairplay for lunch. We took the recommendation that Devon gave us and ate at the Park Bar. We had a cold beer and a delicious wrap. …and guess who showed up at the bar while we were eating…the brewery owners!

It was getting late and we needed to head off back towards Colorado Springs…but first a little detour to drive through Breckenridge to see that tourist trap….wow, glad we didn’t stay long…too many people!

We had a nice leisurely ride, passing pasture land that occasionally had small herds of antelope on our way to Colorado Springs.

After checking into the Drury Hotel in Colorado Springs. We were a little disappointed with the bathroom  amenities at the Drury Hotel… not fond of the shampoo, conditioner, and body wash dispensers (even tho they are more environmentally friendly), the quality of the provided soaps seemed poor.  …there was no hand lotion, face wash, or other extras that were available at our other hotels.  And they absolutely had the worse bath towels…way to rough!

We had a nice dinner at the Phantom Canyon Brewing.

Thursday morning, we had an appointment to get base passes to visit the Peterson Air & Space Museum. The volunteer museum docents were waiting on us. They knew we were coming and we’re excited to show us around. And once they found out who Pete works for, well we were given the VIP tour. The base pass is only good for a short time and we had other things planned for the afternoon or we would’ve stayed longer.

Lockheed Super Constellation

Lockheed Super Constellation

F-104 (on a stick)

We had a quick lunch at Paravicini’s Italian Bistro, the first of many restaurants this trip to be featured on the tv show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (DDD).

Next on the schedule was a train ride on the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. Since 1891, millions of passengers have enjoyed a high-altitude adventure on The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest train in the United States and highest cog train in the world. Departing from historic Manitou Springs, the railroad climbs to 14,115 feet. The tracks wind through boulder-strewn canyons and forests of pine and aspen before ending high above timberline where vistas of the Great Plains and the Continental Divide unfold. On top of Pikes Peak is the only time/place this vacation that we felt we wanted to wear our jackets.

After our Pikes Peak adventure, we drove to Denver having dinner at Dae Gee Korean BBQ, another DDD restaurant. The food was quite tasty and the service was great. It is a “pig out” all you can eat restaurant…the first serving was large enough for us that we didn’t need seconds.

We checked into the Drury Inn & Suites Denver Stapleton.  This Drury did not improve the disappointing bathroom  amenities we experienced at the last Drury… it had the same shampoo, conditioner, and body wash dispensers and the quality of these also seemed poor.  Again there wasn’t any lotion, face wash, or other extras that were available at our other hotels.  And they too had the worse bath towels…also being way to rough!

Friday morning, we went to the Denver Zoo. It’s a nice zoo, although some of the enclosures did seem a little small. Mary was happy to see a few animals that she hadn’t seen before (African wild dogs and Przewalski’s Horse).

Amur Leopard

African Wild Dog

Golden Lion Tamarin

Bongo (antelope)

We had lunch at the Atomic Cowboy.  Yup another DDD restaurant.

After lunch, we met up with Andrew, a friend from the Starfighters air show team, at Wings Over The Rockies Air Museum. Pete and Andrew spent a lot of time checking out the museums F-104. Mary was much more interested in the 3/4 scale “Star Wars” X-wing fighter.

We stopped back by at our hotel, the Drury Inn & Suites Denver Stapleton, to take part in their 5:30-7:00 snacks and drinks. Tonight’s snacks (pasta and meatballs, salad, chips and nacho cheese) were more than enough for dinner.

Well, sadly, we have come to the last scheduled event in this awesome vacation adventure. Tonight the Wings Over The Rockies Air Museum is having a special movie premiere of the new Tom Hanks movie Sully. The movie is based off the real life event of US Airways Pilot Sullenberger when he was forced to make an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River after US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese. Miraculously or perhaps due to the incredible skill of the crew and rescue workers, all of the 155 passengers and crew survived. After the movie, a panel of aviation experts were on hand to answer questions and discuss what had been sensationalized for Hollywood and what were actual events.

It was still early after the movie and we weren’t ready for this vacation to be over….so we stopped into Station 26 Brewing (nearby the hotel) for a one last Colorado craft brewed beer.

Saturday, we checked out of the Drury Inn & Suites Denver Stapleton and had another uneventful Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Atlanta.

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What an absolutely amazing vacation! The weather cooperated everyday.  Everywhere we went the people we met were truly gracious hosts.  Believe it or not, there were quite a few things that we couldn’t fit into our schedule this time.  Colorado we will be back!

Another great Sail Windjammer vacation

We just got back from a weeks sailing thru the Grenadines with the Parrish Heads in Paradise & Limin’ Place on board the S/V Mandalay.  Here are just a few photos (more coming soon)…enjoy!

We made a few new friends.

A lot more friends….

Jimmy Parrish and Limin’ Place entertained us all week!

For the most part the weather was great and the scenery was beautiful.

Snorkeling did not disappoint either.

Sail Windjammer is not known for gourmet cuisine, but we didn’t exactly starve either.

One particular “snacks & swizzles” was made 10x better when some passengers bought a few local fresh fish to share!


It was a great week to be aboard the S/V Mandalay!


Shopping list…

When we get down island to Grenada and the grenadines, we have a few things that we always like to find to bring home. The first is Jack Iron rum which I previously posted about.

The second is Nut-Med. What is Nut-Med? Nut-Med is spray on comfort for aching muscles, joints and nerves. I’ve had planters fasciitis in the past and this little potion provided some much sought after relief from the pain (at least for a little while).

http://www.nut-med.com/story.htm

The third is Grenada Chocolate….and well, chocolate doesn’t really need an explanation, does it!

https://www.grenadachocolate.com

Mandalay meanderings….

The Sail Windjammer pamphlet that I have lists Carriacou after Grenada in the selection of Grenadine Islands that we may visit during a week sailing on the S/V Mandalay.   

Each time that we have sailed the Grenadines, Carriacou is a morning stop quite close to the end of the week.
It is no coincidence that most of the 100+ establishments that serve the notorious Jack Iron rum do not even open their doors until the sun is much higher over the yardarm. This is part of the captains master plan to keep to a minimum the amount of time Jack Iron will be on the Mandalay!  

Jack Iron rum is described by the ministry of rum as a light brown rum distilled from fermented molasses. Of course that description doesn’t do it justice at all. Jack Iron is legendary stuff not to be messed with or taken lightly. It is said that one can use it as engine fuel, paint stripper and, in small portions, it is the cure to what ails you…oh and the real stuff will make your lips and tongue go numb with just a sip! 


The real Jack Iron Rum out of the oak barrels (stored in various containers under the local bars in Carriacou) is 99% strong; t-shirts and labels warn to keep it away from open flames. It quite literally can light up your life. And thus the captain is quite right in his efforts to keep “Jack” off his ship.

We, however, on occasion, have brought back to the states a bottle or two of the tourists version of Jack Iron. The “Tourist Version” of Jack Iron bottled by Westerhall is watered down to 140 proof to comply with airline regulations. 

It is perfect for Pete’s Chocolate Rum Cake.  


A tasty reminder of our island vacation. 

Soon we will be at Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar again

No shoes, no power, no roads… And somehow the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Locals, expats, and tourists will arrive by dingy for an afternoon of limin’.


Roger will serve up various rum drinks. And dominoes will be sitting on the table waiting for players.

“Life is just a tire swing” according to lyrics of a Jimmy Buffet song.  

Mary will serve up a BBQ plate that keeps people coming back another Sunday for more deliciousness (for us it has been a few years).


Stories will be shared, drinks drank, and games played…it will be another wonderful day on Hog Island, Grenada.

If you are searching for something to read…

May I suggest:

The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof
The author and her perpetually hungry husband ditched their Toronto careers to sail around the Caribbean ingesting as much of the island cultures as possible. Each chapter tells of a new adventure ashore, the cuisine discovered while visiting farms and processing sites (like the Grenadian chocolate factory), and learning to make the exotic local dishes. At the end of each chapter a local recipe is shared. 71 stories and recipes! Everything from stewed goat to callaloo.

The author combines two wonderful things: tourism and tasty food!

Available on Amazon – click here.

The countdown begins….

We have begun preparations for our next Windjammer adventure….

Back in 2006, we were late to the party. Both the WJBC sailing days and the movie night onboard the S/V Mandalay. That night we had gone ashore for a lobster dinner at Foxy’s. Approaching the ship via the launch, we could see an old sail being used as a movie screen and the movie was Captain Ron.   

Thus began a tradition for us. Each year as we plan our migration to the Caribbean, El Caribe, we prepare for “the land of voodoo, hoodoo, and all kinda weird $#!&” by sitting back, drinking a cold one, and watching that movie. Last weekend we checked this off our list…the countdown continues.

Canadian Rockies 2015

We have published a “highlights” album of our Canadian Rockies trip. We’re still working on the big album…lots of pictures, it’s going to take a while.  

We choose Globus Journeys for our tour operator to the Canadian Rockies. While we had a wonderful vacation, we found Globus Journeys to be subpar to other tour operators that we have used in the past and thus we would NOT recommend them to our family and friends. 

Click here to view our Canadian highlights album: http://www.clukey.phanfare.com/7063773
 

Enjoy!

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