Ensenada

Our final day of the trip was spent on the beautiful streets of Ensenada.

Definitely not beautiful.

We didn’t get into town until noon or so, we were all watching the docking process from the decks above. Eagerly wanting off of the rocking ship.

This guy here was the best. Alvin was the assistant cruise director and he was a hoot!

We hopped on a bus that took us to the main drag of town. We just wanted lunch and drinks, nothing special on our minds.

Clever name huh?

We were heading to Hussong’s, apparently the oldest bar in Ensenada when we took a wrong turn and was coerced into a bar with free shots, blue shots.

It was a little iffy but the guy promised us that we would be ok and why would he lie to tourists? We really need a sarcasm font.

After our drinks we found our way to Hussong’s, imagine that.

I wanted to pop into this place when I learned that it was established in 1892. It’s also apparently where the margarita originated and it’s still standing. Did I order a margarita? No I did not, but Shawna did and it wasn’t great. Just a basic lime margarita.

I went with the timeless favorite….

The place was a tourist trap, it wasn’t as crowded as the other chain, Papa’s and Beer, that place was PACKED.

The bathrooms were interesting. The toilet paper was meant to be grabbed before going into the stall.

Very sanitary.

One drink and we were out. Then I found out that there is a Hussong’s in Vegas, WTF. We could have found a way dingier dive bar had we known that, sigh.

Time for lunch. We chose El Corralito for no particular reason than it was there and some people eating, that’s always a safe bet.

(One time long ago I got really sick after a day in Ensenada and I have some major PTSD).

You guys, the food was INCREDIBLE. Probably the best meal of the trip, aside from my Indian dishes. The sad thing is, we ordered what we normally do at our local Mexican places at home, ha. Cheese enchiladas, crispy chicken tacos, rice and beans. Can’t go wrong with those..Oh and mango margaritas…Why are they so good?

After lunch we hit the 7-11 for M&M’s because one can only try so many bad desserts in a row. Then went back to the ship.

Last dinner, last late night of mediocre entertainment.

I don’t think we ate dinner that night, but I could be wrong. I know that we went back to the martini bar for two last espresso martini’s.

We listened to some music and said goodbye to new friends and the best server in the lounge.

Then we played Roulette and probably ordered room service one last time because we didn’t eat dinner.

And that’s it, that’s the end. Well almost. We kept our luggage in our room so Saturday morning we just woke up, got dressed, grabbed our shit and walked off the ship. Our car was waiting for us and we were home by 9:30.

Reflecting on our trip, I don’t think there is any need to sail with Norwegian again. Next time we want to try Princess or Celebrity, advice welcomed. I would also like to hit the Panama Canal or Western Caribbean.

Until then, the end.

Bon Voyage 2022

We said adios to 2022 while cruising down to Mexico. The cruise deals lately are phenomenal, I highly recommend taking advantage if you can. Most cruise lines are now offering unlimited drink packages which are really hard to beat, if you like that sort of thing. Since flying anywhere lately is not only expensive but also a shit show, we decided to go back down to the Mexican Riviera but on a different cruise line. We were really spoiled with our Holland American cruise last year, very few people, ZERO children and great musical entertainment so there were big shoes to fill. We decided on Norwegian because it was a first for both of us, the dates worked out and the price was really easy on the pocketbook.

The itinerary had us leaving San Diego on New Years eve and hitting Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Ensenada, then back to SD.

We arrived at the port mid day and had a very simple embarkment. Unfortunately, new years eve was a cold and drizzly day, not an ideal way to start the trip. Pool deck activities don’t hit the same when it’s cloudy and cold, but we still gave it our all! Once we found our cabin, we hit the Lido deck for lunch, took a stroll around the ship, grabbed a couple of adult beverages and snagged a couple of pool loungers for people watching.

Norwegian’s selling point seems to focus on freestyle cruising. That means they give you more freedom from the OG of cruises. Instead of fancy dinner attire in the dining room at either the early seating or later seating, they have multiple dining rooms where you can go eat at anytime. While you can’t show up in board shorts and flips, you can wear pants and a t-shirt. However, I feel like most cruise lines offer that now, on Holland we went to dinner when we wanted to not at a certain time each night. Besides the two main dining rooms, there were also a handful of places to eat that were included. A buffet on the pool deck along with a poolside bar and grill. There was also an Asian restaurant and a 24 hour diner type place called O’Sheehans. It looked like a Hennessey’s but the food wasn’t great. The 24 hour part was exciting as we really needed that on our last cruise, but it turns out we didn’t need it on this one.

The view wasn’t bad.

These days the cruise lines have a few extra restaurants that you can dine at but for a price, some may have a fixed price and some are priced by entree. The Jewel, which was the name of our ship, had six to choose from. Italian, French, Sushi, Teppanyaki, a steakhouse and a Churrascaria. When we booked the trip, our package included all beverages $15.00 and under, wifi, one excursion and one alternative dining choice.

The captain pulled anchor at 4:00 and… we were off like a prom dress. Then the wind kicked in, so we bid a farewell to the pool deck and went to see how the casino was doing. Maybe we played some Roulette, and then we went to get ready for dinner and some dancing.

There were two dining rooms to choose from and honestly neither of them were anything grand and sadly, either was the food.

After dinner we chose to go to the Spinnaker lounge where the house band was playing top hits and then a DJ was going to count down the night. This would be the place we went to end each night, sadly it wasn’t anything great either.

We woke up to a new year but the weather was still in 2022.

Knowing that the sun was in our future, we spent the day playing Battle of the Sexes, Majority Rules and Bingo.

We tried the other dining room for dinner and this was a clear look into Norwegian’s “free-style” dining. Some guests did not care about what they wore, ordered or acted at the dining room. Classy is the opposite of what we saw. The night ended the same but we ordered room service and watched whatever we could find on the tv until we fell asleep.

We woke to sunny skies in Cabo San Lucas.

We were excited to head back to Medano beach and just lounge with food and drinks with our toes in the sand. That was all we wanted to do in each port. We walked around the marina, stopping for a couple of margaritas.

Then we walked through town to Medano beach seeking out The Sand Bar.

The beach was packed so we weren’t going to be able to lounge on the beach, the holiday brought ALL of the people. We were lucky enough to find a seat at the Sand Bar but then we proceeded to wait forever to be served. Sadly they were out of the octopus so we ordered a spicy shrimp ceviche, fish and shrimp tacos. Nothing was memorable aside from the view and the weather.

When we were finally able to wrap up our meal, we hit the street and got a cab to take us back to the main drag. We were going to pop into Cabo Wabo (don’t be judgy) for a drink but with three cruise ships in port, that was a HELL NO. So we asked around for a place with a good margarita and we were sent to The Monkey Bar.

This place was literally just an outside bar with about eight bar stools and a handful of tables. We chatted up a couple who just moved to Cabo and met a man who was a tour guide. We got his card for when we head back in June, hopefully he can hook us up with some fun activities.

The margs were pretty good.

When our glasses were empty we hopped on the tender and went back to the boat. We soaked up some sun at the pool, had dinner and then tried our luck at the martini bar.

Two days into the trip we knew that this cruise wasn’t going to live up to our Holland American cruise, sadly.

Don’t be so Prickly

We took two days to soak up the desert heat and wade in water. Good times and tan lines. We have a favorite hotel in Palm Springs but it was booked for the dates we wanted so we decided to try out the Saguaro hotel. We thought about stopping in Temecula on the way out there for a wine tasting, but decided to just hightail it straight there to be poolside.

The Saguaro is a super trendy hotel that has a retro vibe, aesthetically eye pleasing with blocks of color everywhere. We asked for a pool view room so we could have an idea of how early people trickled down to the pool. Shade was sparse so we wanted to stake our claim on a proper poolside lounger.

Once we were checked in we swiftly changed into our suits and headed down to the crowded pool. See those loungers in the bottom of the photo? One of those opened up so we dropped our stuff and hot stepped literally into the pool. You guys, it was 110 degrees out and I’m pretty sure the pool water temp was 95 degrees. I honestly didn’t think I would make it there for two days, however I adapted. We brought our own adult beverages and our frost buddy cups which was a lifesaver. They have a poolside bar but it’s super pricey and the bartenders are green. Tip 1, bring drinks and a cup. Tip 2, get a poolside room. That was the biggest mistake we made. Each time we wanted to go to the room it was through walkways, key cards, stairs and around and through and down stairs and key cards etc. EVERY TIME….That got old fast. Meanwhile the smart ones were just hopping into their poolside rooms.

We learned that Palm Springs had a two day, two weekend musical festival called Splash House. The Saguaro hotel was a location, our favorite (sold out & now we know why) hotel was a location and one other hotel were all home base for this house music situation. Luckily we were checking out the day it started, phew. The pool wasn’t big enough or cool enough for 80 + drunk people and their floats or their urine.

We spent the entire afternoon in the pool talking and making new friends. We were deep in a conversation when I saw this in a friends sunglasses. I told him to stand tight so I could take this picture. Summer in a photo.

Eventually the sun set and it was finally only 100 degrees outside. Everyone trickled out of the pool putting a period on the day. We made our way to our room for dinner.

The next morning we claimed some pool chairs and went for breakfast. We weren’t impressed but we were fed. We hit the pool and read and sweated and read. I was almost done with my book and the pool was filling up, I told Shawna I needed to finish it before our friends showed up. I ended up crying in the pool, damn book…. but I did finish it.

We took advantage of the hotel restaurants happy hour, we slightly dried off and headed in for tacos and drinks.

Back in the pool we talked and talked until time slipped away and once again the sun went down, funny how that works. We ended the night, ordered a pizza and fell asleep watching the death channel.

The next morning we had a nice lie in, and then hit a recommended spot for lunch before heading home. We were told we MUST try El Patio.

So we did and it was delicious. Shawna got breakfast but me, not me. I ordered the Del Mar for us to start with. Fresh ceviche of crab, octopus and shrimp mixed with cucumber, tomato and the sweetest mango topped with avocado and pickled onions. SO GOOD!! I asked for the trio of salsa’s (I don’t think thats the right name) but it’s not on the menu so make sure that if you visit, ask for it! Finally, I had the fish tacos and they were perfect. We thanked our new friends for the suggestion and will most definitely be back.

As for the Saguaro hotel, I’m not sure if we will be back. One thing that I didn’t mention was the music at the pool was terrible, really bad IMHO. Maybe it was the music of the DJ’s that were going to be playing at the festival, either way it was not good. You guys, that’s all that played for two days, the same playlist over and over…I wanted to go find someone and pay them to change it. Other than a handful of negatives (working ice machines were limited) it’s not a bad hotel, we did have a great time.

Roman Ending

Why do I feel like this title has a sexual undertone?

Two nuns were riding their bicycles through the back streets and alleys of Rome.

One turns to the other and says, “I’ve never come this way before”.

the other nun says, “It’s the cobblestones”.

It’s a Roman ending.

The alarm went off on our last day in Rome. We still had things to see, places to eat at and hands to shake. We strolled to the hotel breakfast which was quite good. Plenty of options and good coffee.

Originally we planned on packing some rapid Covid tests but totally forgot. We had a connecting flight in Canada which is still quite strict on their policies. We thought better safe than sorry, so after breakfast we took an Uber to a testing site. And, it was closed…so we hopped back in the Uber and went ahead with our day, silently hoping we wouldn’t need the tests.

The Vatican.

We arrived at Vatican city pretty early, but there were already loads of people lined up to go inside, hard pass.

We continued our self tour and walked towards the Tiber river, heading towards Piazza Navona.

We took a break at Piazza Navona for an adult beverage and a bathroom break.

This is when we were sure that the only people who order Aperol Spritz’ are Americans, because it’s not a good drink and the Italian’s know this.

I had a place in mind for lunch near the Pantheon but it wasn’t opening for awhile and the crowds were already crazy. So we chose another restaurant and that is the one thing I hate about myself. I need to stick to my instinct, sigh. We weren’t disappointed with where we ended up, but I know the wait would have been worth it.

Can’t stop, won’t stop the pizza!

We wandered the streets heading back to our hotel.

Taking a little siesta before heading back out.

Italy was playing in England and I thought what fun it would to be watch an Italian match in Italy. So we found a pub that was televising all of the matches and hung around that area until kick off. We had a snack and did a little window shopping.

A recommended wine bar wasn’t too far away, so we popped in for a glass. Their wine list was obnoxious, The Cheesecake Factory should be jealous.

Finally we ended up at the pub with some drinks and a very uneventful fútbol match, we finished our drinks and left at half time.

Stopping off for one more sweet before bed. We had a ride scheduled to take us to the airport in the morning. We have a 5th grade promotion to catch, or so we thought….

Friday in Rome, We’re in Love!

No alarm Friday. Our hotel had breakfast available but we decided to sleep in and then go. Making our way through the streets of Rome heading to the Colosseum. It took us about an hour to tootle the 1.7 miles.

We were hungry and for whatever reason, all I wanted was pizza. We stopped and did just that.

Cheese pull number two wasn’t as grand, but the pizza’s were really good.

We strolled by the Victor Emmanuel monument.

Our end game was Campo de Fiori and it did not disappoint.

We chose a place to sit for cold cocktails and some people watching all while mentally making a shopping list.

We grabbed some fun pasta for the girls, meloncello, and the BEST apricots I have ever had.

Then we strolled through the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon to plan Saturday’s lunch.

Before we new it, it was time to head back to our room and get ready for dinner.

Our room. We stayed at the Hotel Mozart but our room wasn’t in the hotel, it was around the corner, in another building. I filmed the experience, you are welcome.

It was perfect.

Dinner….. we planned this dinner weeks before our trip.

Hotel Eden’s rooftop restaurant is where Michelin-star Chef Fabio Ciervo works his magic. I’ll be transparent and admit that the dinner started off with some anxiety. I left my phone in the Uber that dropped us off and even though the driver said he would bring it back in an hour, I had a hard time relaxing because, what the f*ck? I don’t even know why I had my phone in my hand or why it didn’t exit the car with me. I blame my cold for brain fog because that’s all I have for an excuse.

Dinner.

The menu featured a handful of tasting menu choices. We decided on three courses and dessert.

Which ended up being a very good decision because the chef added some amazing bites to our meal.

I have to say that I have never experienced this type of service before, it’s something that I could easily become accustomed to.

Amuse Bouche.

We started off with a goat cheese mousse cannoli with tomato dust. A tomato anchovy tartlet. Grape riesling foie gras and a wheat grass spritz.

Truly incredible and we haven’t even started.

Bread with three flavors of compound butter. My memory fails me but I know there was parsley butter, anchovy butter and one other flavor. The one thing I noticed this time in Europe was that the butter has been unsalted. That never was the case before. I may need to consult a chef about this.

Next up, White asparagus, Amalfi lemon and Mazara red shrimp.

Buffalo mozzarella, scallops and dried tomatoes. The first picture is with the tomato lattice on and then with it off.

First course.

Gran Riserva risotto with Franciacorta wine, oyster and rocket.

Let me pause here and talk about this dish.

Veal broth ravioli and horseradish my way.

Never have I ever experienced anything like this before. I can’t even begin to describe it but it was incredible. The ravioli was perfectly simple and the broth, the broth was so complex and in that one bite it was magic. One of the best things I have ever eaten.

Second course.

Eel with mixed herbs and Pigeon breast with raspberry and foie gras.
I did not love the pigeon, probably wont do that again. The eel was good.

Palate cleanser of mango and coconut dried ice cream.

Deconstructed Tiramisu and a view.

We thought this was the end but it wasn’t.

A box of chocolates and these amazing sweets.

We were absolutely blown away by this experience.

Thank you Rome.

Completely stuffed we walked it off, pausing at the top of the Spanish steps. We thought about a wine bar but we were done, so we went back to the room.

Buona notte

Roma

We had the entire previous morning to reschedule our breakfast for later on our last day in Greece. More like move it to the PM (if we were smart), but it didn’t even cross our minds. So after only a few hours of sleep, we were woken by a knock the door along with a chipper “good morrrrning!” Then we stumbled outside to another amazing breakfast on the patio. It’s hard to describe this hotel because it’s unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. But it’s very quiet and you rarely see anyone other than the porters carrying luggage up and down loads of stairs. So when Shawna was all “come here, hiiiiiii” in her cute voice, I was like what is happening? But then, she arrived.

I nicknamed her Evil Eyes only because that is what she had, but she was super sweet, a nursing mama in search for food. She liked, eggs and bacon, disliked, Greek yogurt.

Our transfer to the airport didn’t arrive until 1:15 so we wandered back into the village grabbing souvenirs and a last lunch.

We had no problems getting to the airport, getting on the airplane, getting to Rome and then getting to our hotel. We booked a stay at the Hotel Mozart. It checked the boxes of walking distance to certain landmarks, had a lift, breakfast included and a cafe next door.

We were right around the corner from the Spanish Steps. Once we checked in, that is where we headed.

We ate dinner not far from Piazza de Spagna.

Wine, pizza and pasta.

Cheese pull number one! Dinner was delicious.

We decided to head over to the Trevi fountain because, why not? And it’s more majestic at night, well I think so.

We headed back towards our hotel when we ran into Giolitto. I mean by the amount of people in line, we couldn’t pass it up.

I ordered way more than I could handle. Dark chocolate, coffee and pistachio…in a cone, sigh….

She ordered almost the same but in a cup.

Verdict; the dark chocolate was too much (who am I?) the pistachio was amazing, the coffee was good.

Why the line of people? No idea, but I also don’t understand ordering an Aperol Spritz on purpose, so maybe I am getting old and it’s lost on me.

Full and tired, we headed back to our room.

Oh, I can’t wait to show you the walk to our room!! And pictures of the Colosseum and our spectacular dinner at a multi Michelin star restaurant, swooon!!

Greek Wedding

My coughing has been making my nights really sucky.

So when we woke up to our breakfast being delivered, I made it outside with barely open eyes.

But if there is anywhere to just sit and soak it up, this is the place.

We had no agenda for the day except making our way to my brothers hotel for his wedding. So we ate, napped and read until it was time to get ready. A very nice lazy start to a fantastic day.

All of us that were in Santorini for the wedding arrived on Monday, Casey and Aileen were also supposed to arrive on Monday however their travel plans came to a halt in Munich. Their flight was delayed and then canceled, forcing them to stay the night in Germany. After a lot of shuffling and money, they were able to catch a morning flight on Tuesday getting them into Santorini by the afternoon. They made it, however their luggage did not. Can you imagine? A day before your wedding and you have nothing.There was no ETA on when they would get their luggage either, but luckily they were able to go shopping and expense what they bought. Santorini isn’t a terrible place to shop, they had a lot of options. A day later Casey had new wedding attire and they had bought beachwear, luckily Aileen’s dress was brought there by a friend who’s luggage did make it.

We walked with our wedding shit, in the sun, up hill to their hotel but not after getting lost…of course. We really have become accustomed to getting a ride when we want it, and I will not take it for granted again. Sweaty and sunburned we climbed up and down more stairs until we were in their hotel room and laying on the air conditioner.

Then we popped some Champagne and toasted to the soon to be husband.

When summoned, we made our way to the ceremony.

Have you seen a more dramatic back drop for a wedding? I haven’t.

Casey looked mighty fine for shopping that morning for an outfit, his friends did good. And Aileen was a stunning bride. It was a beautiful wedding.

While the bride and groom went off for photos we made our way down to the bar for some adult bevarages.

Then they did the cake cutting before the sun set.

Followed by the most incredible wedding dinner. I can see how the rich and famous get used to this type of lifestyle, it’s not too bad.

We were served a seven course meal over 3 maybe 3.5 hours. Every bite of food was phenomenal. I terribly regret not taking pictures but I wanted to be in the moment.

Once we finished the dessert course we all got in a transfer back to the Oia village to the Hassapiko bar.

We hung out and danced until the early morning.

It was a night to remember.

Next up, Rome.

Destination Santorini, hopefully

Setting: Santorini, Greece

Reason: Wedding

Our alarm went off at absurdly 3:10 a.m.

I know what you are thinking, I thought the same thing… it’s for a vacation, that’s exciting right? Well, we all had a bad cold leading up to this, and sleeping wasn’t what I was getting much of at the time, so ya, 3 in the morning hurt. But, we got to the airport, on the first flight without any hiccups or coughing fits, thankfully. I literally had to have a cough drop in my mouth at all times.

We left San Diego early and got to NYC on time as the picture suggests. The layover in NYC was simple and then we were on our second leg to Athens. This leg was a good 9 hours and I started out by playing a game.

But after this rude comment, I switched to my book. (which is Book Lovers and as good as I imagined it would be.)

Finally we made it to Athens.

(If you don’t see this video because I am in a different country and my computer doesn’t comprehend.)

Once we reached Athens, we hit the ground running, until we weren’t. The Santorini airport was unlike anything else I have experienced. We should have had over 2 hours to play around at the airport, however that didn’t happen. Long story short, an hour was spent getting our luggage checked, and then we had to wait for a bus, yes a shuttle bus to take us out to our plane. The bus was a few hour late meanwhile we were only in the air for 26 minutes. However, we made it and was pleasantly surprised that our luggage made it as well.

The four of us took a transfer from the airport to Oia, pronounced Eeee-Uh. Our hotel was located at the beginning of the Oia(n)? village. This is the area you see in all of the movies. White buildings that look like sugar cubes perched on the rugged cliffs over looking the Aegean sea. There are blue domed churches dotted along the way, the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.

There are cats and dogs happily sun bathing all over the village.

Once we got settled into our amazing room at Thirea Suites and Studios, and took a much needed shower, we met up with my parents for dinner.

Amazing right? Everything about this hotel is wonderful, except these.

Doesn’t look too terrible but I assure you this isn’t all of them. We counted and there are 139 steps. Let me tell you, after a week of coughing and the Mediterranean sun, 139 steps is no small feat. But it’s worth it when you reach the top.

We planned on walking through the village and down the 300 steps to Ammoudi bay however I didn’t have it in me. Not enough sleep and still fighting my cold, I wasn’t confident I would make it back up. So we stopped into a little restaurant that served traditional Greek dishes and had a nice dinner.

I ordered the Mussels Saganaki and a dry white wine (I can’t remember the varietal) and it was all really good. After dinner we popped into a little market by our hotel for some wine, water and snacks because no one wants to be left without options on vacation.

We poured a glass of wine and soaked in our jacuzzi, winding down from a couple of long travel days.

The one thing we didn’t prepare for was how difficult it is to find rides on the island. So if you come here, come prepared. There are very few taxis and even less Uber’s and transfers need to be reserved ahead of time or you’re left waiting.

I had made reservations at a winery a few weeks before we arrived. We forget to arrange our ride the day we got in so after climbing all of the stairs and coughing for a good 10 minutes in the sun, we finally managed to get a ride, although we ended up being an hour late to our reservations, but we made it.

We had four wines paired with two courses. The food was really good, the wine was just ok.

From the winery which was located in the middle of the island, we wanted to catch a ride on the bus down to Perrisa beach which is on the bottom of the island. We had to hike a ways back up the road to get to the bus stop. The bus is really convenient and a cheaper option to get around but it takes time to get from one side of the island to the other. We hopped off the bus in the town of Perrisa and walked seaside until we picked a beach bar to pop a squat. I don’t know why all the countries have amazing beach bars and we live in California and we have nothing like this.

The beaches were lined with shops and bars and they all offered chairs and umbrellas, all of them.

We changed into our suits, ordered a drink and soaked up the Mediterranean sun, literally, for hours.

The beaches are all black sand (rock beaches) thanks to the volcanic lava and ash. Hot as hell is what is was, like it literally did just came out of a volcano.

The water was chilly but it felt good. It was crystal clear and so refreshing to float in. I wish I could walk right into it right now.

We called our transfer for a pricey ride back to our hotel because we didn’t want an hour long bus ride.

The rest of the crew were all going to do a wine tour/dinner that evening, we were the only two losers that didn’t go. We had already done the wine thing and wanted to have a nice quiet dinner, but I did feel slightly guilty for not going. But they all had a good time, the didn’t miss us, I’m sure.

We tootled through the village, stopping for a couple of adult beverages and people/sight watching.

First up, two espresso martinis with a sea view.

We found a pharmacy and got some more cold meds because my cold is hanging on for dear life. Then we ran into this cute place with an amazing drink menu.

We found a bench and just soaked up the fact that we were in Greece.

Back to dinner, you guys, this meal was incredible.

We started off with grilled octopus with fava bean puree.

Ridiculous.

Then we both ordered risotto.

Me, pistachio risotto with sea bass. Her, wild mushroom with smoked bacon risotto with truffle oil.

Again, so so good.

For dessert, creme brûlée.

Completely satisfied, we walked back up more f*cking stairs.

And made our way back to our room, where we once again soaked in the jacuzzi until sleep beckoned us.

Tomorrow I hear there is a wedding. Although, it didn’t start of very pleasant for the happy couple. More on that next time.

καληνυχτα (good night)

Puerto Vallarta, This is the End

We woke up in Puerto Vallarta, and after some coffee we hit the ground running. Familiar enough with the city, we hopped in a cab and headed to Playa Los Muertos. The plan was to walk along the beach until we found a place to lay out, swim without dying, and have some adult beverages.

We didn’t have a hard time.

It wasn’t the prettiest beach, and to safely swim we had to walk south a bit, otherwise the undertow would’ve taken us to the Bermuda Triangle. Nonetheless, it was exactly what we were looking for.

We had fish taco’s and coconut shrimp, both were delish.

Oh, can we talk about the beach vendors for a second? If you’ve been down to the Mexican Riviera beach towns then you’re familiar that the beaches have vendors that sell everything from sunglasses and jewelry to basically junk. However, this time we were offered cocaine, you guys is this a new thing? It wasn’t just at this beach either, it also happened a couple of times in Cabo. So anyways, if you’re looking, I know a guy.

After a couple of hours of floating in the ocean and soaking up the Mexican sun, we gathered our stuff (no, not cocaine, I bought sunnies) and walked up the beach to the Malecón. I really, really, really wanted to get another passion fruit margarita at the Devil’s Bar. I guess the secret got out because every seat was taken and it was only a Thursday, ugh. Having seen all the shops and bars already, we dragged our feet back to the ship.

Look who greeted us.

For dinner we went to Tamarind, Asian cuisine. The shrimp dumplings were incredible. We also shared a pork belly char siu, along with crispy duck and panang curry. The waitress talked us into a ginger wasabi martini that didn’t taste at all like wasabi but Shawna enjoyed it.

That night we requested a couple of songs from Colin and Clara, the pianists. They were so great, they both sang our requests, songs they have never performed before.

After the piano bar, I’m pretty sure we danced for 2 straight hours. Sweaty and barefoot is how the night ended.

You know it’s a good night when the shoes come off.

Friday and Saturday we were at sea, and it seems like they went by in a flash.

Friday we were still far enough south that the weather was quite warm, meaning a pool day. Hopping from hot tub to pool is how the afternoon went, stopping for pizza and a ping pong break. While sitting in the pool we met this couple from Arizona. Interesting folks, a little TMI but friendly. Sitting on the steps of the pool, we talked to them for a good 45 minutes. As we talked the wife steadily became more and more intoxicated. Gradually getting more inebriated with each minute that passed, but she wasn’t intaking anything. Anyhow, that was a topic of conversation for the rest of the day.

It was our second gala night but before we hit the dining room for dinner, we popped by the pool bar for a martini happy hour.

It wasn’t a ‘choose your own martini’ type of situation, we got a trio of martini’s, that we shared and they tasted like, well, exactly as they look…fruity.

Sure enough, the Arizona couple from the pool was there. He was eager to talk and she was still upright. However, rumor has it, she passed out later at the dinner table.

Our dinner wasn’t terribly exciting, I think this was the one evening that I was actually disappointed in everything that I ordered. Luckily, we had stashed Parisian sandwiches in our fridge for late night dining.

We met two brothers early on the trip who were traveling together, and they were from La Mesa (East San Diego). Turned out that they grew up just a street away from where Shawna did, small world. Nice men, we called them our guard dog pit bulls. However, one of them fell asleep on the job.

This wasn’t like a nod of the head. You guys, he was OUT. Nowhere-ville, it was amazing…and then a little scary, but he was fine, just completely knocked the f*ck out. He slept through the bands set, he slept through cowbell, he slept through more cowbell and he slept through slaps on the cheek.

That’s the doing of tequila shots, or so they said.

SO GOOD!

We dusted off our Macarena dance moves on the dance floor ending another great day.

Is there anything sadder than waking up on the last day of a vacation? No, the answer is no.

We reached Saturday, the last day of our cruise. Somewhere near Baja California, because when we stepped outside, ready to soak up the sun, we were slapped with November San Diego weather. Meaning it was not quite warm enough to get wet.

So we played some ping pong and wandered along the outside of the ship.

I wanted to play the music trivia at the pool later in the afternoon, so we went to the Lido Market for lunch. It was delicious, I piled my plate with poke sushi rolls and crispy pork belly. Oh, so so good. After we ate, we went back to the room to change into warmer clothes and then headed to sit out for a bit at the stern of the ship.

Somehow we ended up scoring poolside lounge chairs right before trivia started. The sun came out, of course, and then it was time for a quick wardrobe change back into swimwear.

I love trivia, and I felt confident with music trivia. But you would think that I have learned my lesson by now. These ships are full of people that have lived decades longer than me. The first five questions were about classical music so there went that win. Then it was songs from the 1950’s, so unfair. I guess I don’t need to tell you that we didn’t win.

Even though it wasn’t hot outside, we knew we had gotten some sun. We took the next hour to pack our luggage, leaving out only what we needed to disembark. Then we made our way to the casino. That was a bust for me, although Shawna won some money on a slot machine. We ran into our besties, Cliff and Gail and we sat at the casino bar for a drink. Why does time fly when you’re having fun? Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner. That was the one thing that I got tired of doing, getting ready. Having to do it every night is just so much to ask of me.

After a dinner of braised lamb, pasta and pavlova, we went straight to the rock room, no time to spare.

Clara was performing in the theater, before she hit the ivory keys.

Once the music was over, we all stayed in the Billboard Onboard lounge and hung out with the crew. Talking and laughing.

Laughing and talking, we stayed up past last call, which means quite late, or quite early.

Since we had packed earlier in the day, once we got to back our room, all we needed to do was set the alarm and hit the sack. Welp, the alarm didn’t go off, so we woke to the sound of the hall intercom calling disembarkation numbers. That put a pep in our step, and in minutes we were dressed and heading down to the gangway. The only good thing about running behind was that our car was already at the port waiting for us, so we were home in no time.

That’s it, that is the end of our fantastic trip. It reminded me of why I have always loved cruising and we are looking forward to another one soon, someplace new and warm.

Cabo no Wabo

We anchored in Cabo San Lucas just before 11:00am on Tuesday.

Desperate for lunch on the beach, we made our way downstairs to get the tender tickets. I’m not going to sugar coat it, this cruise ship had a lot of older folks, so getting into that Tender from the Ship, was bit of a slow process. Luckily, we sat next to the best group of Texans (you won’t hear me say that very often). They told us that a friend of their’s, who is a singer, was singing at Karlito’s Cantina on the marina, and we had to stop by to see her.

We told them that we had a date with Playa El Médano for lunch, but we would absolutely stop by later.

We strolled through the marina, stopping to browse and for photo ops along the way.

Once we hit the beach, we walked in the water until we spotted a spot that we could sit, eat, drink and swim. The weather was perfect and the water was pretty warm, warm enough to swim in.

We stopped at Omega’s where we soaked it all in for a couple of hours. This is also where I had the most delicious shrimp tacos with a fresh habanero salsa. I’ve thought about those tacos every day since.

Fully satisfied, we made our way back to the marina to see what was happening at Karlito’s. Our tender Texan friends, Pattie and her husband John, were already there, “but the fun don’t start til I walk in“. Kesha, get it?

Everybody there was so nice, the lady singing (I am horrible at names, luckily Shawna has an elephant’s memory, is that even a real fact, like how do we know that?)

Anyhow, Leslie Blasing used to be a back up singer for Reba, she lives in South Padre Island but just happened to be in Cabo visiting friends. She was singing on this sunny Tuesday at Karlito’s as a favor, ya, she is that nice of a person.

We decided to eat dinner in the dining room on the ship, so we said our goodbyes, and tootled back to the tender.

I’m guessing you know what we did after dinner, but you are going to have to hear it again.

As our group of friends grew larger with each trip to the bar, we all took turns saving seats in our favorite corner booth. That way we were always together listening to the music.


I can’t forget to mention that the Holland America bartenders make a first-class espresso martini! Pretty sure that’s one of our martini’s being shaken in the background of the video, ha.

When the clock strikes (who knows, I never knew what time it was) I should say, when the pianos stopped, the dancing began.


And when the lights went out, it was time for bed.

Just to wake up and do it all over again.

But this time, we woke up in Mazatlán.

Once we stepped off the ship we hopped in a cab with another couple and headed, well we didn’t know where we were headed. We asked to be taken to where the action was at.

We landed at Joe’s Oyster Bar.

Not bad, not bad at all. After wetting our palate, we strolled along some shops and…shit, I just remembered that I bought vanilla there, I wonder where that is, hm.

It was time for lunch and as we do, we asked a local where we should go. The next thing we knew we were dropped off between two beach restaurants. We rock paper scissored to see which one we would eat at, and it was a good choice.

I mean come on, grilled pulpo on the beach…. with a margarita, can it get any better? (insert Chandler Bings voice)

After lunch we wandered along the streets but nothing was really calling out to us. Mazatlán is pretty in some sorts and not so pretty in others, just like anywhere, but there wasn’t anything that we really had to do there. So we made our way back to the ship and hit the pool, well I’m pretty sure that’s what we did, I mean it’s been a week you guys.

Fun fact, Mazatlán’s malecón is the largest in the world. I don’t remember how long it is, but I am sure Google does, or Alexa, I’ll ask…Nope, she doesn’t know either. Oh well, here is a glimpse of the longest malecón in the world.

Once we were sun soaked, it was that time again.

That’s Johnny Tocco on the guitar, isn’t he good?

You know how the first part of a vacay moves at a perfect pace, and then all of the sudden BAAAAM, it’s over? Ya, well that started in Puerto Vallarta….stay tuned.