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travel – carnival cruise

ah yes… finally… my long long overdue post about my fabulous cruise in the caribbean.

so, back in May, myself and 7 of my coworkers had the pleasure of being hosted on the Carnival Breeze for a 6 night cruise from Miami and visiting Key West, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

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here she was, as viewed from the Miami port before we embarked.  she’s a big girl and beautiful, shiny and new.

this was my view… deck 2 outside cabin.  we had this fabulous little window well that i used many afternoons to sit in and read my book while enjoying the gorgeous caribbean water… there’s nothing like that colour…

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the ports were fantastic… we rode bikes in key west… i did the stingray city excursion in grand cayman (so cool!) and in cozumel we did a catamaran boat cruise with snorkeling and beers & guacamole.

my main challenge on this cruise was to keep active and to try to restrain myself around the food…
there was a Guy Fieri’s burger joint on the ship and I managed to restrict myself to only 1 burger.  which was a miracle, because that was a damn fine burger.  my boss ate 7.  so basically i was the only one showing restraint.

my main temptation was the blue iguana taco bar… they made the tortillas fresh right infront of you and then you got to load up your tacos as you liked and there was even a hot sauce carousel that included my all time favourite hot sauce; a honey habenero.
i could never decide between the pork or chicken taco, so obviously i ordered one of each… there was also a fish option, but it was breaded and deep fried, so i said no to that.

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*drool* makes me hungry just thinking about it…

i also did well in the breakfast department… i’m not a huge breakfast guy, but i did love that i could have my bagel and smoked salmon whenever i saw fit…

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and then one day, i splurged on the huevos rancheros…
oh man, it was good.  three kinds of salsa… and these little hush puppies on the side… yup.  that was a winner.

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and because the best part of cruise ship life is having no limit to what you order, we also got a breakfast mac & cheese for the table… which was garnished with fried chicken and bacon.  hells to the yes.
there was 3 of us digging in to that and it was still too rich to finish.

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so there’s a little snapshot into how damn easy it is to indulge on a ship.
there were a few nights i definitely went overboard… i ate 3 lobster tails one night.  why not?  they’re free and i was still hungry.  there were nights filled with beer until 3am… (couple of those nights infact)…
but i balanced everything out with 4 trips to the gym (which was REALLY nice BTW) and tons of walking.  while you’re onboard a ship, you’re constantly walking from one end of it to another… and in port, with bike rides and swimming excursions, we kept moving.

and at the end of everything, i’m quite pleased that i didn’t gain a single pound.  so that is a total win to me.

carnival really wowed me with their ship, facilities, service and food.  i’d definitely go on the breeze again!

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travel: little havana in miami

well, my first real cruise and trip to Miami was a pretty rad success. I’ll talk more about the cruise in another post, but I wanted to give you a couple pictures of my food tour in Little Havana.
we visited a few different places on a walking food tour that lasted a few hours… ate some delicious eats and got to experience a bit of the history of the place. it was very fun.
I’ve never visited Cuba and didn’t have a massive knowledge about Cuban cuisine, so I was looking forward to learning something new. as I expected, the food wasn’t particularly spicy or heavily seasoned, but it was tasty and you definitely could see the difference from other caribbean cuisines.
the area of Little Havana itself was like another world from South Beach and it felt very Caribbean with people just hanging around on the street corners and in public spaces playing dominos and socializing… and pretty much every man was sporting a Cuban shirt. so of course I had to bring one home for my husband.
anyways… enjoy some pictures from my wanders…

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and lastly… the food.
medianoche – the midnight sandwich. it’s a Cuban pressed sandwich but on a sweeter egg bread made for late night eating.
empanadas – these were stuffed with ground beef & green olives. delicious twist on a classic.
tostones – fried plantain cups filled with chicken sofrito.
pastelitos de guayaba – pastries filled with guava. so fucking yum.
abuelita maria ice cream – homemade ice cream with waffle cone & guava in it.

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travel: cruising

so, i’m now a cruiser.  kinda.
i’ve moved from my previous travel agent job into the same job, just with a cruising focus.
it’s been very interesting… i like the new challenge and it’s been really fun learning in depth about cruising after years of talking about airlines and tours and hotels and such.
AND i still get to do all the airfare and tours and hotels and stuff that i used to, i just throw this on the pile.  if that makes sense.

anyways, for a few years now i’ve been pretty stoked on the idea of going on royal caribbean’s oasis of the seas.
my husband and i have watched shows on its construction and inception… and i’ve been to more training sessions on it than i can count.  and frankly, it looks freaking amazing.
so we’re going.

next november, roughly a year from now, we’re going to do this 7 night eastern caribbean itinerary.
and it’s gonna be pretty awesome.

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and the really fun part is that we’ve decided to assemble a posse.
so i’ve booked off a whole mess of group space on this amazing ship, so if you’re in the mood to sail the caribbean seas with some cool people (like me, obviously) then you should join us.
it’s tres affordable (savings of about $200 a person from the regular price – plus a $50 cabin credit!) and deposit to secure your spot is only $50 a person.
so if you’re into it or want more info, flip me an email at work.  and if you don’t have that address, leave a comment and i’ll email you directly with the goods.

in the meantime, i’ll occupy my months with fantasies of the ship and all the fun stuff to do and all the food to eat.  because food is included and i’m planning on doing some damage at a few places.  mainly the hot dog place and the sushi restaurant.

travel: hawaii. again.

its funny to think that i was just in honolulu 11 months ago.
but, i’ll be back shortly.
my next trip is back to good old HNL and i’ll be spending 11 days just chilling out and not doing a whole heck of a lot.

see, i have this thing over the last couple years…its the fervent belief that i should wake up on my birthday somewhere warm and beautiful.

basically this is the evolution of my insistence for the last 10+ years that i not work on my birthday.
i always booked it off and would take the day simply to sleep in, laze around and frankly, do whatever the hell i felt like.
there was often breakfast booze, pedicures and haircuts on the schedule…

but while thats been great and all… a couple years ago i booked myself to hawaii early ahead of a family vacation so that i could have all those things, just in hawaii.
last year i didn’t make it back, my trip was november instead of december, but this year; its on.

because i believe that on your birthday you should be happy.  truly happy.
and hawaii makes me happy in a way nowhere else can.

anyways.
i’ve been thinking about my upcoming trip lately because the husband and i watched an amazing 2 hour documentary on eddie aikau.
wow, what an absolutely moving story.
i’ve seen “eddie would go” stickers and signs around oahu’s north shore, but didn’t know where the saying had come from.  and what a legacy this guy has left, not just for being a surfer, but mostly for being such an exceptional human being.

anyways, i won’t readers digest such an amazing film, but i highly recommend you check it out: Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau

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so, after that doc, hawaii has been on the brain… and i can’t wait to be back.

as usual, we don’t have too much planned.
i’m going to the spa on my birthday… and then out for teppanyaki since my husband has never had it before (! crazy, right?)
i hope to get a meal in at chef morimoto’s restaurant which looks amazing and has been on my list for years…  morimoto waikiki

beyond that, it’s a jam packed schedule of sweet fuck all.
which i am more than ready for.

we’re staying in a condo for the first 7 nights and then my husband and i are moving to one of my favourite hotels, the outrigger waikiki on the beach for 4 nights.
i just find that i spend so much time infront of that hotel on the beach, in the restaurants; particularly duke’s, and so why not just buck up and stay there?
we’re in a partial ocean view room which means in the morning i can sit on the patio with my coffee in my jammies and sip while i gaze out over the gorgeous water and daydream of running away forever to the islands…
those morning moments are amoung my favourite little pieces of hawaii.

this is pretty much how i’m envisioning that view going down…
because i’m “thrifty” i only do the partial ocean view… saves about $50 a night and its not like what you get is bad…

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hawaii… come at me!
i’m ready for you.
countdown clock = 44 days.

travel: los angeles recap

i guess one would say that we survived LA.
although the jury is still out on my liver making it out alive.

but here’s your brief photojournal.  and sorry, but if you’re following me on instagram, you’ve already seen all these.

if you squint and look reeeeeal close you’ll see the hollywood sign in the centre of this first picture.  and that is the most we saw of it, lol.  (from the plane)

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we made it to our lovely hotel in hollywood without much incident… it was a great location and super cute.  i definitely recommend the grafton.
friendly staff, nice rooms and we adored the pool.

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our first whole day there we kicked it to universal studios to ride some rides and have the fun!

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the last time i was there was many moons ago… probably like 15 years ago, so basically besides the bones, the whole place was different.

we had a rad time and were very happy we went first thing in the morning when it opened.  we rode the simpsons ride, transformers, the mummy and jurassic park before there were any lines at all.

the simpsons ride was SO COOL.  definitely my favourite thing there.

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after a hot sweaty day in the california sunshine, we had another very important stop to make…

hot dogs!  (obviously)

only a block away from our hotel was Carney’s, which is hailed as the best hot dog in LA.  and it did not disappoint.
we went with the classic carney’s dog which had chili, cheese, mustard, onions and tomato on it.  we added the insanely hot peppers on top and i had mine without onions.
it was a frigging delight.  hands down the best dog i’ve had to date.
and can’t you tell how excited the husband is?  he looks like a boy on christmas, lol.

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one of the things that always makes me excited is checking out venues in other cities.  we didn’t make it into a show, but wow was it ever neat to see so many legendary places in person.

the whiskey, the viper room, the troubadour, the roxy… it felt like every block we turned had another amazing spot for me to gawk at.
next time, i most definitely have to see a show.

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as i mentioned, the whole point of the trip was to see our dear friends get hitched and the wedding and all the partying that accompanied it was top notch.

the wedding itself, absolute perfection and getting to know so many super cool people was just a blast.  those LA people have the most hilarious stories.

on our last day we had the pleasure of enjoying a gorgeous pool in bel air and it was a wonderful end to a great trip.

and we agreed that we need to visit LA more often.

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travel: los angeles

tomorrow the husband and i are off to los angeles for the weekend to see our friends get married.
we’re pretty excited about the wedding, obviously, but also for the chance to explore LA a bit.  neither of us have every really been there.  while we’ve both visited the city briefly as children and the surrounding area of anaheim, we have not spent a lot of time in la/hollywood proper and are looking forward to getting to experience the city.

we’re staying on sunset in hollywood at a hotel suggested by the happy couple…

which has an adorable pool that i plan on floating my hangovers away in…

because you probably know by now that i’m a water girl and love my pools/lakes/oceans.  it’s necessary for wherever i stay.

the only real thing we have planned is that on saturday we’re going to hit universal studios hollywood.  i REALLY want to ride some rides and i haven’t been to universal hollywood since i was about 16 years old, so it has changed a lot.
and while i’m super bummed that the back to the future ride no longer exists, i’m pretty stoked to take a whirl on the simpsons ride.

are we absolutely insane for visiting a theme park on the last saturday on a long weekend of the summer?  probably.
but the wedding is sunday and monday is for hangovers and a bel air pool party apparently… and tuesday we go home, so this is the only chance.

either way, we figure we’ll go first thing when they open, ride some rides, see some cool stuff and head home when we get tired of crowds, likely around 3pm or so… and then probably spend the afternoon poolside, go for dinner and head to bed early, since this wedding may be the biggest liver challenge i’ve faced to date.

so if anyone has any la suggestions, please tweet them to me or comment here… we’ve done zero planning for this trip and are kind of flying by the seat of our pants, so guidance is always welcome.

have a great long weekend friends!  see you in september!

food & travel: austin, texas

well… it feels like its been forever since cass & i booked our trip to austin… but finally the countdown is at under 2 months and we’re starting to get VERY excited.

my right hand (wo)man found an amazing blog called Fed Man Walking that we’ve spent a few hours drooling over and dreaming up all the delights that we’re going to try while we’re there…

we’ve mapped out most of the places that we’re planning on visiting and made some guestimates as to what we can walk to and what will be bus or taxi…

and we’ve got a loose itinerary.

we arrive on wednesday and will have had a looooong day of travel with an early morning start, so we’ll probably just check in, chill out, go for a swim and wander the immediate area around the hotel.

thursday we’ll be bright eyed and bushy tailed and plan on a morning run/walk and some solid city exploring, some pool swimming, relaxing ect
then we’re very stoked to be seeing The Book of Mormon that night!

friday is when we really get going… we’ll be up early for our pre-ACL food tour with Austin Eats Food Tours.

Get your ACL festival morning started right!  Experience Franklin BBQ (no line), Torchy’s breakfast tacos, Blue Ox BBQ, Sugar Circus Bakery and Hops and Grain Brew prior to arriving to the festival!
What’s included:  breakfast taco, brisket, sausage, turkey, pork tenderloin, pulled pork, 3 local craft beers, dessert & drop off at the festival!

and then the main event… off to ACL festival!  we have poured over the schedule, highlighted our picks and have formulated a plan of attack.
on friday we’ll end the night with depeche mode.  after the festival… who know where austin will take us…

saturday will hopefully treat us with a bit of a sleep in…  maybe a morning swim… and then off to ACL fest for silversun pickups at 4pm! ❤  ❤ ❤
after the daytime shows are over at ACL fest, we’re heading down to Emo’s to check out the late night show with franz ferdinand and smith westerns which should keep us in just the right amount of trouble all night 😉

sunday is our gospel brunch date at stubb’s bbq!
then we’re off to the last day of ACL fest with the closing performance from lionel richie.  yup.  after the festival, who know?  we may have to crash from exhaustion or we might have it in us to rock austin for one last night…

monday we head home at 3pm, so we’ll still have the morning to have one last exploration and shopping endevour before we start the journey home.

ya, i’d better book that tuesday off work for sleep and recovery.  just typing all that exhausted me, lol.

46 days to go…

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