Category Archives: Travel

Symphony of the Seas – We’ll see you on-board.

Follow us on Facebook as we sail on the inaugural voyage from Miami on the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas.

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By the numbers she is 1188 feet long and 215.5 feet wide.  She occupies 228,081 Gross Tons.  18 Decks with 24 guest elevators.  4 Bow thrusters with 7500 horse power each.  There are 7 neighborhoods (really our favorite feature of this class of ship) Central Park, Boardwalk, Royal Promenade, Pool & Sports Zone, Spa & Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.  There are 2759 Staterooms which accommodate 5518 guests with double occupancy.  2200 crew members.

There are 9 complimentary dining venues and 11 specialty ones.

And this is all just the beginning – there is so much to see and do including Rock Climbing Wall, Water slides, Escape Room, Surfing, Zip line, laser tag and not to be missed the Ultimate Abyss.  Will we head down the tallest slide at sea?  Only one way to find out!

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Italy will never be a normal country and we love it that way.

 

“Italy will never be a normal country. Because Italy is Italy. If we were a normal country, we wouldn’t have Rome. We wouldn’t have Florence. We wouldn’t have the marvel that is Venice.”

-Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy…

 

On the Danube in Budapest

Cruising on the Danube river in Budapest past the stunning parliament building is a special treat both day and night. Did you know that the Danube flows over 1700 miles passing through 10 countries on its way to the Black Sea? You can travel almost all of it on an amazing river cruise. How much time do you have? 1 week? 2 weeks? More? Let us know and we can design the perfect trip for you.

Cruising for Seafood

 

Certainly one of the great things about cruising is you are always close to destinations with amazing seafood.  Last month in Halifax, Nova Scotia we had lunch at McKelvie’s Restaurant – a short walk from the cruise pier and not very far from another favorite spot – Halifax Distilling Co.  You can tell from the photos below that we had a great lunch and would definitely go back on our next trip.

What’s your favorite food stop when cruising?

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Cruising – Boston to Montreal

Day 1 – Boston

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I’ll admit it. I’ve been lots of places all around the world, but have never been to Boston. Two things I know about Boston: First is Sam Adams. Jim Koch believed that beer drinkers deserved a better American beer than what was available in the 1980’s. And was he right! Look at the proliferation of craft beers and breweries all across the US. Samuel Adams Boston Lager had a huge impact on the future US landslide of flavor packed beers. Second thing I know about Boston is Boston Rob from the CBS show survivor. Rob and his wife Amber both individually won different seasons – her in 2004 and him in 2011 after his fourth appearance! As a couple they both appeared on Season 7 of the Amazing Race – they were masters of the game, and finished in 2nd place, just short of the big prize.

For this trip, we’ll be in Boston a couple days early and will visit Freedom Trail sites in the downtown area. The city was founded in 1630 and got its name from an English village. Many of the events that led to the American revolution including the infamous Boston Tea Party in 1773, started here In 1775, Paul Revere helped spread the word that the British were coming (no tweeting in those days). The next day “the shot heard round the world” was fired, signaling the start of the American Revolution.  And the rest as they say is history.

Looking forward to another great trip – Cheers!

How many of these sites can you identify?

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Blogging my way down the Danube – Budapest day 2

It’s up and at ’em today with a goal of seeing as much as possible. First stop St. Stephen’s Basilica. Located in a very nice area, the church is surrounded by many shops and cafés so after the visit you might want to grab a bite to eat or a glass of wine and enjoy the square.

St Stephens Basilica Budapest

St. Stephen’s is dedicated to the Hungary’s king who was the founder of the Hungarian State. Construction started in 1851 but the church was not dedicated until 1905. During WWII, the church roof, towers and external walls were badly damaged however visitors today will find that even the beautiful mosaics have been successfully restored. Like many churches & Basilica’s in Europe, St. Stephan’s has it’s precious relic. Here (in the chapel) you will find the mummified hand of the church’s patron saint, the first king of Hungary. I’ve seen quite a few mummified parts in my travels but no matter how many, I can’t quite get over the concept – and yes, in every church I do seek them out….go figure!

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If you are ambitious (we were not) you can walk up the 364 steps to the cupula for a panoramic view of the city, or do it the easy way and take one of the 2 elevators – either way, its worth the effort on a clear day.

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St Matthias church on Buda Castle hill

Next stop on our whirlwind tour is Buda Castle. We took public transportation for an easy jog over to that part of town. Located on what is referred to as Castle Hill, the 18th century Buda castle is a 200 room palace built to protect from Mongol and Tartar attacks. The castle was quite damaged in World War II however today many parts of it have been restored and now house the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. The entire complex is designated a Unesco World Heritage Site and it is worth taking the time to explore.

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An amazing view from Castle hill of the Parliament building on the Danube

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View of Danube from Fisherman’s Bastion on Castle Hill

Funicula to Budda castle

Funicular Ride up to the Castle

Take the historic funicular up to the top and be sure to marvel at the views from the top. Stay for a changing of the guards ceremony and be sure to throw a penny in the fountain. While we were exploring a festival was being set up in the castle square and we are glad we hung around until the stalls began to open. This was by far the best Hungarian food ever! The cabbage roll was to die for, the grilled chicken was moist and tasty and sausage….well with a cold Hungarian brew, what could have been better??

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Sue & Ellen enjoy lunch at the Buda Castle

Onward we went – in search of one of the “most scenic tram rides in Europe”. AKA Tram #2, on the Pest side of the river is according to National Geographic, one of the most scenic trams in the world but I think we missed its beauty. Don’t get me wrong, out the river side of the tram there were some very pretty sights – when you could see them. However, the tram is crowded and used for local transportation so if you can get a seat on the scenic side you are lucky…heck that is if you can get a seat at all!

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Tram running in front of Gellert Baths in Budapest

Now a word about this and other trams/public transportation options in Budapest. You must buy a ticket and you MUST validate it upon entering the tram. We bought a 10 pack and got on. One of us validated and the other 2 did not, as our main goal was seeking out a seat. Well it seems that the one who validated did not actually validate the ticket itself but rather the ticket cover….and folks that doesn’t count when the tram police step on board and check your tickets. Let’s just say that the 1 Euro tram ride ticket became about a $35 per person fine – yep, even though we had attempted to validate according to the nice lady checking tickets, we had done so incorrectly and it simply didn’t count! You see, she doesn’t “make the rules, she just follows them” thank you very much and pay on the spot! It did not matter that we had some 8 unused tickets that she could have easily stamped …nope….tourist hand over the money! And so we did….but here is the good news (according to her), we could now ride the tram the rest of the day for free! Well we rode it all right, to where we found a wonderful little wine bar to toast our contribution to Budapest tourism!

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A Souvenir that won’t be soon forgotten!

All in a days fun…and something to talk about for a long time to come!