November 29, 2008
A happy Thanksgiving from the (rocky) Mediterranean seas! I am very thankful for so much in my life; above all my mom and dad for supporting and encouraging me to follow a challenging and adventurous career. I’m also thankful that I currently have a job, the best cast mates I could ever ask for, and health. I spent the holiday with the cast, at the semi-american thanksgiving dinner on board… there were sweet potatoes and apple pie, and that’s all I need. Every cruise is always different from the last, weather it’s because of the ports, the new passengers (they become good friends by the end), events, etc. This cruise has been different in other ways, in that I performed in the Welcome Aboard show, singing and playing guitar. It was a different element to the show then they’d had before, so I was a bit nervous and anxious, but I felt happy with my 4 song performance. Afterwards, the entertainment team asked if I wanted to play in the lounge area of the ship a few nights a cruise, and I agreed. Since then, I have played a 2 hour set in the "Cova Cafe." I was aloud to play whatever I want (within reason) because technically it's not my contracted job, so I played mostly original music, with a bunch of covers mixed in. In the long run, I want to be able to support myself as my own artist, so I'm glad I can further develop myself in a low key setting as just a solo act for now. I had requests to come back again during the cruise, which I am scheduled to do, and next time in the Martini Bar. Even though it’s much more low key, I feel like this is more of a challenge then the production shows, because I am stripped down to just guitar and my voice, to keep a room entertained. So if you wonder what I’ve been doing, it’s practicing… and visiting… ROME! I finally got the chance to go to Rome one last time on this contract. I went with my friend Takis, who has been on ships for years but has never gotten the chance to go into Rome. He requested special permission to have the day off so we were able to leave in the wee hours of the morning and have an entire day. Arriving early, the city was quite cool, and the crowds significantly smaller being the off season. We were able to walk right into the Vatican (last time there was a 1 ½ hour wait)! The architecture, art, and size of the building are breathtaking. The ceiling itself is really a miracle, with the gold detail and paintings. There are enormous statues of popes and angels, marble floors, stained glass, candles, and so much the eye can’t physically take it all in at once. We also went into the tomb of the popes below the Vatican, which had caskets and information on all the popes. The detail and time that was put into creating this place is overwhelming. I can’t imagine something that is anywhere near that caliber being built today – people were so creative and motivated, and must have been geniuses of a sort to be able to physically put a structure like the Vatican together. We continued our journey across town, of course reveling in all of the countless monuments and buildings along the way. Rome has just too much to see and do, you can get distracted easily. Eventually we made it to the coliseum. From the outside, it’s how I saw it in middle school history class, but the inside asks you to use some imagination to be able to see how it used to look as a stadium. Most of it is gone and ruined, but is still quite large and allows one to walk around different levels. I can’t imagine however, watching the fights and craziness that went on in there. I think I prefer to just see the remnants of the building. Next, we went to the Trevi Fountain and made a wish. After quite a walking excursion, a bite to eat was in order, and we stopped at a quaint restaurant in an alley near the fountain. We had a fresh cheese plate, vegetarian pizza, and pasta. Even the food is good in an alley! I’m beginning to think it doesn’t take much to please me in Europe. Anyways, I’m so glad I got to visit Rome again, and this time be lucky enough to catch among of the most important places to visit in the city, without huge crowds. If you can stand a bit of cooler weather (about 50º F) then it’s well worth it to visit in the off season.
at 2:14 AM
November 15, 2008
Time is flying by! Sorry I have been so bad about posting my blogs lately! Here's a whole bunch of them. Pace yourself! Recently I’ve been visiting some of the same ports I’ve been to before; I’ve been taking it easy and doing lots of walking and window shopping. I’ve gotten into a bit of a routine on the ship, but to be honest, I am missing the feeling of a genuine, familiar home. Everyone on the ship is incredibly friendly and loving (our crew got the record score in the whole fleet for friendliness last cruise!), but people come and go all the time, and it’s hard to always connect with everyone on a certain level. There are over 50 nationalities represented on board, and while I am taking in and learning so much, sometimes there’s a bit of a language and even cultural barrier I am hitting from time to time. Our shows are going very well. We get great response from the audience and are always recognized and praised around the ship on our down time. I am so thankful to have free time to be able to go out into most of the ports, but I am starting to feel a little restless. I really miss being in a band, and playing everyday, and feeling challenged musically. I have been writing and practicing my guitar, but do miss the outlet to perform in that light. This morning I stepped off into Bonifacio, Corsica, and climbed to the top of the town for a island’s great view of the sea. It was raining on and off though, so just a bit of walking through the very quiet town was enough to get a quick fix of my feet on land. I did shore excursions yesterday and the day before though, so there’s some new updates to read about! Take note of my new European shoe collection. The photo doesn’t do them justice, but I utterly adore them and they keep me happy. That’s not superficial, right?
at 6:44 AM
I did a tour again today –which has been my favorite yet. This tour had a 45 minute drive to an olive farm, with scenes of Tuscano’s bright green rolling hills from the recent rain. We stopped in town to get a view of the countryside, and I met Lindsay, who was on the other tour bus, where we were treated to espressos by the tour guide. When we made it to the farm house, the surrounding area was really just breathtaking. The air was SO clean and fresh, it was the first thing I really noticed stepping off. There were olive trees surrounding the area and you could literally just pick an olive off of the tree. We sampled different olive oils; I had the extra virgin, roasted red pepper, and garlic. They were very robust and flavorful. They also had artichokes, beans, cheese with honey, and unsalted bread, which is best for olive oil and bruschetta. It felt like such a fall day, and reminded me of the feeling I get at the orchard (Milburn’s) in Maryland during fall. Except instead of apple cider donuts and pumpkins there are vines crawling about and olives scattering the ground. Very rustic, fresh, and peaceful.
at 6:01 AM
November 13, 2008
It was a rainy morning, which turned into an overcast day, which was actually quite lovely. The “Glimpse of Florence” tour consisted of 2 ½ hours of a guided walking tour, followed by 3 ½ hours of free time to explore the city on our own. The guide took us through some of the main squares to see the big, beautiful, churches covered with statues and detailed designs. Orcagna’s Loggia is pictured, which was an open building with many roman statues. Florence is known for it’s shopping, but even the modern and popular stores reside in gorgeous stone buildings. There are countless leather and jewelry (gold is most popular) stores. I spent my free time walking through the city, getting a feel for it and taking in the sights. There’s definitely a much different atmosphere in these European towns then U.S. cities. Since there is so much more history then our cities, there seems to be an underlying character of wisdom that the U.S. hasn’t acquired yet.. It’s much more relaxed and easy to take your time to wander and appreciate the scenery. I walked along the water, the Fiume Arno, with had a bridge made of colorful buildings, “Ponte Vecchio.” There were bright jewelry stores that lined the walkway of the fairytale looking bridge. Not one building in Florence looks like it was just thrown together in a few days – they all have their own personalities and charm.
at 5:56 AM
November 11, 2008
We’ve been to Monte Carlo a handful of times now, and the prices prohibit me from doing too much, so Gary, Lindsay and I decided to venture to Cannes. It was about an hour train ride which took us along the water for some great views of Nice and the surrounding towns. We thought the red carpet for the film festival would be layed out as it is in summer supposedly for tourists, but it wasn't out along the water today. We ended up walking through the city where I got some very inexpensive and trendy boots. I swear… I’m done shopping now. I have some really cool stuff and it’s all very rockstar that I’ll put to good use when I’m done here, I promise!!!! We had lunch of pita, hummus and falafel, at a pita house… which I haven’t had in a long time (usually I live off of hummus) so I was happy. It was fun to get out of the usual port and do something more adventurous.
at 5:52 AM
November 7, 2008
Some people on board have said this is the most beautiful port they’ve been to. I can certainly see why. It’s not catering to tourists, just a quaint town by the sea where sailors, fisherman, and travelors by boat pull right up to a waterside cafe. The mountains are sprinkled with sidewalks leading up to what seem like secret hide-a-ways of houses. The buildings lining the water were marigold yellow, brick red, and cantaloupe orange with green shutters. I went with my friend Takis today, and we walked through the town and up a steep, thin sidewalk/road leading to a lookout spot, where we could see a residential area, the boat, and down to some houses by the water (the picture with me in it was taken at this spot.) The sidewalk had smashed olives all along it, because there were olive trees growing all around, and I actually thought they were blueberries at first… nope, not in Italy. After walking for a while we stopped at a small restaurant on the water and had pastas – mine was a thin shelled vegetable ravioli with a walnut sauce. Um, melt in my mouth best pasta I’ve ever had. Wow. And it was a nice reasonable portion that was just right and satisfying. This place was a little magical!
at 6:37 AM
November 3, 2008
A pic from the fashion show a couple weeks ago; and the ladies night out for Marsha's birthday last cruise. We got to go to one of the fancy restaurants on board and had plenty of girl talk and laughs to go around! Then had a party for her at the night club afterwards. She had a great time!
at 9:03 AM
November 2, 2008
Today I was in Valetta, Malta. It is a town that had Italian flair, and reminded me a bit of Venice, the way the buildings and alleys were, but there were many long thin steps surrounding the island to take you to the central square, where most of the activities take place. Since it was a Sunday, most things were closed, but the local cafes were packed, and a few little stores were open. I walked in with Gary, and he got the local specialty, a meat pastry, which was quite large, for only half a euro. At noon it was very very humid – the most humidity I’ve felt since summer on the east coast. It was time to escape the heat…Gary and I are both a little scarily obsessed with High School Musical, and to our pleasant surprise, the brand new 3rd English Version was playing at the Valetta Cinema. So we ended up making that our afternoon activity. It was gloriously cheesy and amazing… being surrounded by little girls who already knew all the words to the soundtrack and were just as excited as me to be there! I tried a little of the local soda, made with minerals, which tasted like non-alcoholic Jagermiester…. I’m not sure how I feel about it still. We made our way back to the ship to get ready for the crew Halloween party. I dressed as a pirate, and it seemed like the entire ship’s crew was there – it was so fun. The new DJ that just came on board is so good and kept everyone dancing. Somehow the paparazzi got there (aka all the international crew boys on board) and took sooooo many pictures with Lindsay and I. We were posing forever, it was hysterical. I hope they don’t put our faces on girls gone wild or something. The first place winner of the costume contest was dressed as a flesh eater, and had real raw meat hanging from his body and mouth! HE SMELLED SO BAD. The pool boy dressed as trash and had tons of cans hanging off of him, and he smelled pretty bad too. I laughed, danced, and had a few jell-o shots compliments of azamara. I will be sleeping in tomorrow for Twisted TV’s performance…
at 8:57 AM