May 22, 2009

Victoria, Canada

Legislative Building from across the inner harbor at night:The Empress Hotel: After seeing a few absolutely beautiful, colorful, and lively places in Hawaii, the ship set sail for Vancouver, Canada, for a night, and then to Victoria, Canada, where it stayed for 2 weeks of maintenance. I stayed in Victoria almost the whole time to have more time with Takis. It ended up being a really fun town. There's a wide range of people - ages, ethnicities, languages - and there is really something for everyone. We visited a castle, went to an Imax about under water life, went to an under water aquarium, shopped, walked around the inner harbor, ate too much, and frequented 2 irish pubs on the main street. The irish pubs were one of our favorite places - they had a great atmosphere, live music every night, and many different types and flavors of beers. What more could you ask for? A lot of the restaurants took pride in their seafood as well, as they should, being steps from the water. We also went to the Madam Tussaud British wax museum. There were lots of English royalty, as well as historic american heroes. Unfortunately we missed the Bug Museum - decided to save that one for next time. I'm glad I didn't pass up seeing this lovely place... and the extra time with my bo of course!

May 1, 2009

a Very Maui Birthday!

view from our balcony: Each night a diver jumps from Black Rock Hula Love! There is a whale left of the boat: So, for my birthday... the best BF in the world made it soooo special! We had an overnight in Lahaina, Maui, so it gave us a chance to do something very cool - we stayed in a resort for the night. I didn't know what we were doing or where we were going so I was definitely surprised and very excited! We hung out by the pool with cocktails all day, and had a beautiful view of the beach. We even spotted a few whales splashing around in the ocean! I took that as a plus sign for being 1 year older. When the sun started to set, we watched the nightly ritual of a clif diver (a torch is carried along the beach to one solitary young diver on "Black Rock"). They celebrate this tradition with hula dancers and music. After a sunny, rejuvenating and relaxing day, we went into the town for dinner. At night there are only a few places that stay open late, but there are definitely people out and about. We were too tired from our day of celebration so we just ate and went to sleep. haha. But the next day, we walked along the beach, where there is a string of resorts. There's lots of sea-side activities, but we didn't have enough time to do them! I wish I could've tried the stand up paddle surfboard. Next time. Lahaina ended up being my favorite port, not only because the resort was a dream, but because the town was also really cool and had a lot of personality. There were lots of little stores with quirky colors and lots of energy. If you are ever in Hawaii, stop by the town of Lahaina! Mahalo!

April 29, 2009

Helicopter in Kailua Kona

It was an overcast day in Kailua Kona,, but we had had our hearts set on a helicopter ride since getting to Hawaii. We caught a taxi to the airport, where there are many different helicopter lines. There are different places the helicopters can take you - to the waterfalls and/or volcanoes, depending on weather and location. Our helicopter, which sat 6 plus the pilot, took us to an active volcano. Surrounding the volcano was over a mile of Igneous Rock. Some spots on the vast grey and black floor had holes with steam seeping out! It was a crazy site to see. Apparently the magma has shifted over the years from the original exploding point to another place under the ground, so there is even a place where molten lava is peaking out at ground level. We flew right next to the actual volcano, which is still considered active. There was tons of smoke coming out of it. I literally had to pinch myself! Before the volcano errupted, people had been living in houses close to it. Many of them were destroyed by the molten lava, but some still remained. One house in particular was surrounded by the dried rock, but was still in perfect condition. There was a helicopter parked outside, as that is their only way to come and go from there now (I think it's been made into a hotel/house for rent). We then flew over to the water, where molten lava collides with the crashing waves. Steam is outlining the coastline. You can catch glimpses of the neon red lava before it hits the water. It was such an interesting and exilerating experience.. I never imagined seeing a volcano so close and personal!

April 26, 2009

Hawaiian Birthday Cruise

I was fortunate enough to embark on a 12 day cruise on the Celebrity Millenium over my birthday (May 1). We started in Hawaii, and went around the Hawaiian islands for 6 days, then went on a 6 day-at-sea voyage up to Vancouver, Canada. This was the second ship I had ever been on, and it was 3 times bigger then the Azamara Journey. At first I was very overwhelmed, but once I got used to the extra lounge areas and wider range of entertainment options, I made myself (temporarily!) at home. The first port was Honolulu, where the ship embarked from. It was quite a tourist driven spot, and the main street was filled with high end stores (Bulgari, Coach, etc,) and a million souvenir spots. While the locals I ran into (which was mostly on the beach) were friendly, it felt a little like Miami. We did stay in the tourist area though, and did enjoy the main beach. We didn't exactly feel like it was a tropical paradise, but luckily, we were in for a treat in the following days....

March 18, 2009


The Room!Note: future apartment plan: Oh, Ouzo: "Just some bites to go with the Ouzo:" Galaxidi was about a 45 minute trip away , but close to Takis’ Aunt and Uncle. We stayed in at a bed and breakfast, and we had a very fun and traditional room. One of the benefits of seeing Greece in the off season is the lower rates, and many times, your pick of rooms. We were given a really beautiful light pink studio apartment room, with high wooden ceilings and a loft area above the kitchen. There was an open fireplace we kept lit most of the day and night. We went to a local bakery, and Takis picked out his favorite traditional greek desserts, so he made Greek coffee in our kitchen and we tried them all! I’m not usually a big sweets person, but what I liked most was the thick moist cake made of sticky rice and sugar. There was also baklava, and some crunchy phyllo dough and honey concoctions with cloves on top. A little spicy, a little sweet, and always dripping with sugar syrup, nicely washed down with super thick and rich Greek coffee. Definitely an experience! Just a few blocks away, the restaurants lining the water have stunning views of snow capped mountains. Later in the day we had cups of oozo (the licorice drink common for Greece) and a huge platter sampler of seafood and marinated veggies and cheeses. Simple, but fresh and amazing. It has to be impossible to not fall head over heals for the quality and taste of the food in the country. It was a beautiful day of walking around the quaint town and eating our hearts out... ha!

On the way to Galaxidi

I have to admit, some of my favorite times were just driving in the car and seeing the country side! On some of the roads, locals sell their wines, honey, vinegar, and fruits!

March 17, 2009


Port of Nafpaktos: (Like a scene from The Little Mermaid!)Frappe: Nafpaktos Castle:On top of the world! I mean castle: Yet another beautiful village nestled between the water and a castle on a mountain, Nafpaktos boasts thin streets lined with a charming personality. We stayed in a beach hotel, which was only $40 euros (for the cooler off-seaon), and had a balcony view of the street side cafes, the bridge going to the other side of the country, and distant mountains. We took a walk to the center of town by their small port, where you can sit and have a frappe and look at the traditional buildings and small boats parked beside you. One side of the port reminds me of a scene from “The Little Mermaid” where Ariel is first seeing people on land, and peaks up to the stone walls to see a horse drawn carriage (see picture). We drove the car up to the castle, and explored around it’s stone walk ways and remnants. At the very top, we could sit on top of the stone crescents and have a breath-taking view of the village, water, mountains, and surrounding towns. With the sun closing in for the night, it was shining just perfectly on the water. On the road leading to the castle, we found a small restaurant on the way down, looking onto the same breath taking scene. We were waiting for Takis’ uncle and aunt to call us, so we decided to relax there for a little while. After some time, met up with Takis’ family, and went to a Greek/American restaurant and had all of the wonderful appetizers plus Souvlaki, the thick wrap filled with veggies, tzasiki, and a meat. His aunt, uncle and nieces were all very sweet! After we said our goodbyes we checked out the local nightlife where cafes by day become night clubs!

March 16, 2009


The Old Prison of Nafplio: In Town:At the top of the Castle, looking out onto Nafplio:Typical Greek appetizers: Our first mini road trip took us to Nafplio. It is a village with a cafĂ© lined water front, watching an old prison floating in the water. I suppose escaping from the old jail was a bit tricky while being surrounding by water! Nafplio was lined with narrow streets, accommodating a wide range of shops – from funky boutiques, to souvenir shops, to bars and restaurants, to contemporary shops. Behind and beyond the village, 999 stairs climb up to the town’s castle perched a top a tall hill. The trek is worth it, as it provides a gorgeous view of the orange-roofed town, the surrounding villages, the sea, and mountains. The castle is fun to climb around too! After all that climbing, we built up an appetite, and upon recommendation, we went to a restaurant a little past the main street, quietly sitting right beside the water. Many of the traditional appetizers are vegetarian, and the cheeses are almost always local. Now, brace yourself, because I tasted the best food of my life in Greece! Firstly, the olive oil used for dipping bread into, as well as cooking, is so incredibly fresh, rich, smooth (you could describe the oil like a fine wine!) it makes all the dishes have an unmatchable taste. The fresh ingredients, including lots of vegetables, are much healthier then any typical American fare. Tzatziki is one of the most famous sauces - a dreamy, garlicky, cucumber, greek yoghurt concoction. There is also Tirokafteri, a spicy cheese spread, and an eggplant dip called Melitzano salad that's chunkiness makes is shy of baba ghanoush. We had Saranoki Cheese, which is a salty fried cheese, and Saranoki Shrimps, which is a rich tomato mixture of soft cube cheese, spices, and large shrimp. Other dishes included – balsamic soaked portobello, Peppers stuffed with a form of Tirokafteri, Gigantes (Giant beans sometimes mixed with tomato sauce), Crete Salad (tomatoes, feta, basil, olive, on top of hard brown bread) and thinly sliced sardines (not my taste, but a favorite of many). After all the tasting and eating, we headed for our home for the night. A 10 minute drive from the main part of the city, we found a group of traditional homes, with rooms for nightly rent. The large house we stayed in had 4 residencies. Ours was a large stone-walled room, with a fireplace, kitchen, and on a sectioned off place for the bedroom. From the windows, we could see the lit-up castle we had climbed just hours before, and all of the town’s lights that looked like fallen stars at the bottom of the mountain. It was a very pretty landscape, and it was nice to be able to watch it from the secluded distance.

March 12, 2009


The temple of Posidon the beautiful lobby at the Margi hotel the famous Greek singers, Elena Paparizou and Terazis duet

Traveling by cruise ship is one of the most luxurious ways to travel, but one of the down sides is that you can only experience a port for a handful of hours, or if you are lucky, an overnight. Myself being a night person, I like getting my feel for a new culture by experiencing evenings of music, dinner, being social – and that makes it a little hard when traveling by ship. So after my cruise contract (a whole 6 months!) I decided to do some traveling on my own.

I went to Greece to visit my boyfriend, Takis, who lives in Athens. I was able to dive right into the culture by spending quality time with people who actually live there!

For my 13 day stay, Takis planned a small tour of the country by car. We started in a town outside of Athens, called Bouliagmeni. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel, The Margi. Out of all the places we stayed, this was at the top of my favorites. We had a balcony view of the ocean from our spacious and calmly colored light orange-yellow room. The hotel had a modern bed and breakfast feel, but with a lovely first floor with open areas of wooden floors, comfy leather sofas, a big fireplace, and numerous candles at night. It felt like a romantic home away from home. During our stay there, we drove about 45 minutes along the coast to the temple of Posidon. It looks like a mini acropolis, except it’s overlooking the water and mountains. The Greeks strategically placed this temple at the center of mountains so they could see the enemy from all angles, if they were about to be attacked. We witnessed a gorgeous sunset right over the mountains and water.

My first experience of Athens was one I will never forget. Takis and I met up with his best friends, including his brother and giflriend at Ieraodos (Ee-ra-o-dos, meaning holy street). They all spoke English, and 2 of the girls are English teachers in Greece. I actually tended to feel a little like a jerk because I was the only one who spoke just one language. We went to see one of the most famous shows in Greece! There were lots of long tables (kind of like a dinner theatre) and all 12 of us sat there. The show opened with young pop singers and dancers, singing some English songs and some Greek. Next was Elena Paparizou, a famous and beautiful girl who won Eurovision (like american idol but huge for Europe). Lastly, the vetern Greek singer Terazis a very respected singer of the country. He sang until 5 AM!!!! What an exceptional passion. There was lots of traditional Greek dancing! In the middle of the night, everyone got on stage for a little while (yes, of course I went) and danced!

February 22, 2009

One more Cruise

I can't believe it - just one more cruise left on the contract. It's chock full of 7 Carribean ports that I've been to before, so I will fill you in on the latest and greatest places to see, and things to do. Don't worry, I have only seen a few pieces of the world so far, and my traveling and singing isn't nearly over! I'm booked for a 12 day trip to Greece in the month of March (with a personal Greek tour guide!), and well, i won't get ahead of myself... but there's a lot more to see and do in the coming months :-) stay tuned!

February 20, 2009

St. Barts

lions and tigers and pirates, oh my! Here is a quick run down of St. Barts: bring snacks and be prepared to see a lot of amazing stores with incredibly expensive things! If you are addicted to celebrity gossip columns, you will know that this is a hot spot for modeling shoots and celebs to vacation. The first time I went to St. Barts (last cruise), I went to Shell Beach – which was a 15 minute walk from the ship. It is a rough, shell-spattered beach. There’s a 2 story bar and restaurant which a big group of us ate at, and our bill was roughly 50 euros a person (and I had a salad and 2 drinks). Yeah, make that American dollars, and… well, I’ll pretend like it didn’t happen! But we were rich and famous for the day. On this trip to the island, I decided on an easy window shopping day, full of fresh air, and lovely scenery. The kids of the island’s three schools had a parade – each grade in each school was dressed to the nines in a certain theme. Anything from African safari characters, to pirates, to a Venetian masquerade to Disney characters – you name it! The finale was a small drum circle and wild little dancers from the jungle. Nothing like a little “circle of life” to put a smile on your face!

February 19, 2009

I belong in Antigua

it's so windy up herreeeeee!!! Eric Clapton's Island home. (the rehab center is on another part of the island, but close by) Below: a limestone church. Today, I was given an itinerary of ‘must sees’ from the art director who used to live on this island. Marsha, Billy, Ben from the band, and I hired a driver for the afternoon ($25 each for 4 hours) to see some perfect points of interest. Our driver, Sammy, was a Rastafarian who filled us in on his lifestyle, tofu, and the vegetarian diet. We were first sent to the English harbor and “Admiral’s Inn” which was inside a national park. We purchased tickets to have access to the park, which allowed the driver to then take us to more secluded points of the island. Admirals Inn served good food, along with a view of the water and boats. Sandwiches, salads, seafood, and even a few oddball dishes are thrown into the menu – like chicken curry and pumpkin soup. After lunch we walked around the little shops and historic areas to then return to the driver. Next, he took us up to a lookout point on the park, where we could see Eric Clapton’s house, as well as his rehab center. He is an adopted child of the island. How Rockstar is that? Someday…. Ahhhh. Anyways, next we were to another overlook to see a surreal looking beach resort owned by an American, with tons of lovely boats sprinkled throughout the water. To get us back to the ship, we drove through a rainforest area, and some residential areas. Sammy said there are a lot of really nice looking houses because the people of the island are all about helping each other out – if you don’t have a lot of money you can get materials yourself and build a nice house. There was definitely some really unique and upscale houses. There are also plenty of goats lining the sides of the roads, some leek from farms and others are wild. We got a thorough tour of the island, along with lots of information about the people and way of life. This is a recommended island to hire a driver – it is more then worth the money. My only regret is not having lunch at one of the many vegetarian spots – now I know for next time that the island caters to the Rastas with lots of meat free restaurants. To be continued!