Sunday, March 29, 2015

March

In the blink of an eye March is gone! Time sure flies when you're getting old! Here's my recap for the month of March:


Travel
After two big trips in January and February - our cruise on the Carnival Glory and a trip to Japan - my only travel in the month of March was a long weekend trip to Charleston, SC for my niece's wedding.( She was married at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant.) We went down on Friday and had a fun dinner at Shem Creek with friends and then went to the Comedy Theater at Theatre 99 to watch an improv show. Also  went to Sullivan's Island beach for the first time and had lunch at Poe's. Add in an evening at Stars Rooftop Bar and the wedding for a very fun weekend.



Eats
I've stated before that I really only eat out when traveling so my choice for favorite food this month was at Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island. It was a 45 minute wait for lunch but the burgers are delicious and it has a really fun atmosphere. I guess Southern Living is in the know about their restaurant choices!





Read
I managed to read 4 books this month. And I must've been on a kick about books from the past as 3 out of 4 of them took place in the 1930's. The first one I read was Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock which was about a young girl living in Ohio in the 30's. It didn't really knock my socks off so I can't say that I recommend reading it. The second book I read is The Boston Girl which is very popular right now. It is about a jewish girl who immigrates from Russia to Boston at the turn of the century and her life after that. I really liked it even though it had a bit of a slow start for me. Next was Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. This book took me forever to read ...but I also really liked it. It's about a girl living in New York City in ..yes, you guessed it, the 1930's.and her relationship with her best friend and a man she meets. And last but not least I had the privilege of seeing Garrison Keillor in his one man show - if you get a chance, go - so I wanted to read a few more of his books. I picked up Pilgrims at the library. His books are always funny and I'm a big fan.

So that wraps up March for me. How about you? How was March? Did you eat some really yummy food? Travel anywhere? Read some good books? Now on to April!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Costa Maya

Costa Maya in Mexico was our fourth, and final, stop on our 30th Anniversary Western Caribbean Cruise. Previously we had snorkeled the Meso-American Reef, second largest in the world, in Belize and Honduras. Now we would be snorkeling this reef once again but this time in Mexico.




The port at Costa Maya is a relatively new port and was built and is owned by the cruise lines. There are a couple restaurants, a large saltwater pool, beach chairs and several shops. We walked through this area to the bus which would be taking us a short ride away through the town of Muahajal to board the catamaran for our snorkeling excursion.



The town was a small, sleepy fishing village before the cruise ships started arriving - and I am sure it has grown some but it still has that sleepy feel to it.  There were a few small hotels, restaurants, bars, homes and a soccer field plus lots of roadside litter and trash. The high cost of tourism.


It was the roughest of our 3 days of snorkeling (causing a few people to lose their footing)  but the water was a beautiful navy blue and the coastline scenery was picture perfect. Blue skies with white houses lining the coast.

We received our snorkeling instruction and gear. And after about a 20 minute boat ride we were in the water. This time I saw lots and lots of coral - humongous coral! - and not so many fish. Since the seas were so rough, it was cool to watch the coral and vegetation dance with the waves in the sparkling sunlight under the water. This was my sister-in-laws favorite snorkeling day. So we all had different viewpoints on our favorite. But I really liked them all. How can you beat sun filled skies and gorgeous water?





After our snorkeling, we were dropped off at the port and we looked through a few of the shops. And it was back to the boat for our last day at sea. The end of our cruise. So much fun, And relaxation. And too much food. How privileged we were to be able to take a week to celebrate. Happy 30 years! Here's to 30 more!




The Carnival Glory switches it's itinerary between the Western and Eastern Caribbean. For more information, go to www.carnival.com

Once again, I am linking up with #fridaypostcards. Go check it out!

Also linking up with #weekendwanderlust at www.abritandasouthern.com and #wkendtravelinspiration at www.reflectionsenroute.com. Lots of linking up so go visit all these travel websites!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Honduras

The Bay Island of Roatan, off of the country of Honduras, was our third stop on our Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory.



We pulled into the harbor of this mountainous island just after sunrise. We had once again chosen to do a cruise excursion through Carnival. And once again, it was snorkeling. But this time it was off of the beach instead of a boat. Plus it included a lunch, a swimming pool and visiting with some rescued animals.



Once exiting the ship, we walked through the port which had a Fat Tuesday's restaurant and several shops. It was pretty much built and owned by the cruise lines to accomodate all their passengers. We were led to a mini bus which drove us to a small boat that took us to our beach for the day. There was a gift shop, beach, swimming pool, a small replica of a Mayan ruin and a blocked off area of the bay with stingrays and turtles which we could watch being fed.



We picked up our snorkeling gear and headed to the beach. Picked out our beach chairs and then a man announced that they would be feeding the monkeys in five minutes. Intrigued, we decided to go see what was going on.












A group of us gathered while the employee gave a talk about the animals that they had there. Someone had tried to smuggle the two baby monkeys, Stinky and Coco, off the island at the airport so they had been rescued. And the alligator, Gringo, is blind so he can't fend for himself in the wild. Last but not least was a big beautifully colored bird, who I can't remember why he was rescued, but I think it had to do with clipped wings.

Then a few of us at a time were allowed to go in the monkey's cage to feed them. I wasn't sure I wanted to do it but I am really glad that I did. You held the food bowl and they would swing around and come get some bananas or seeds. They really liked Mr. Ur and were purring in his ear.

Next we could hold Gringo or the pole that the bird was resting on. There was also a mountain lion and bobcat who were living there but for obvious reasons we couldn't get close to them.



Having fed the monkeys, we went snorkeling. You went into the water off the pier and they had a path marked for you to follow so you kept off of the coral. This was Mr. Ur's and his brother's favorite snorkeling of the trip. Not my finest hour. I followed the path but panicked when I veered off of it. It was really shallow so then you ended up on the coral.  I found out that I really like snorkeling off of a boat but not so much off of the beach! I was done pretty quickly. Apparently, there was some really great sea life to be seen. I know Roatan is a very popular spot for not only snorkeling, but also scuba diving.



So I settled for sitting on the beautiful beach until it was time for lunch.



Lunch was served buffet style and was delicious. Striped sea bass, barbecued chicken legs, salad, beans and rice and fried banana chips. Very yummy. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the port.





Roatan has a very unique feature - a ski lift to the beach. Right along the bay, and only for cruise ship passengers, you buy a day pass to ride the ski lift OR you can just walk over a small bridge.(that's what we did) There are a coupla restaurant/bars and lots and lots of beach chairs.







We got back on board after that and set sail to a beautiful sunset. Bye Roatan - maybe see you again another time!






Once again, I'm linking up with www.walkingontravels.com for #fridaypostcards and a little end of the week travel inspiration!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Belize



Belize was our second port on our 30th Anniversary Cruise on the Carnival Glory. It's a tender port - which means that the cruise ship cannot dock at the actual port. So the cruise ship provides boats, or tenders, to transport you to shore. We chose to do a shore excursion , snorkeling and visiting a private island, through the cruise line this time. Our snorkeling boat picked us up right at the Glory - we just had to walk right off the cruise ship onto our excursion boat.



We would be snorkeling the Meso-American reef. It's the second largest barrier reef in the world, second only to the Great Barrier Reef off of Australia. It stretches from Guatemala to Mexico and we were lucky enough to snorkel this same reef 3 times on our cruise.

We were split into 2 groups - beginners and advanced. This was the first time that I had ever been on a guided snorkeling trip. I liked it. I was in the beginners group because even though I had snorkeled before, I don't have alot of confidence in rough water. We were fortunate that the water was calm that day but I  still decided to stick with the beginner group.

My guide was great. He dove down and pointed out different sea life to us - 2 yellow stingrays (yellow!), a coupla spiny starfish which he brought up for us to hold and even a barracuda! It wasn't very colorful but I really enjoyed seeing all the sea life. The funny thing is that if you ask each of the four of us which snorkeling trip we enjoyed the most you would get 3 different answers. This trip was my favorite.


After the snorkeling, we were off to Starfish Island. Starfish Island is a very small private island with a bar, snack bar, store, kitchen, roped off lagoon, beach chairs, showers and a boat dock.




We had about 2 hours to spend on the island.Our excursion didn't include food or drink so we paid for drinks and found some beach chairs to relax in.






































We got back on our boat to transport us back to the cruise ship. The rum punch was flowing freely and everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine and being on the water. I know I was!




Once again I'm linking up with #FridayPostcards!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cozumel



The island of Cozumel, off the coast of Mexico, was our first stop on our cruise, The Carnival Glory. Known for it's all-inclusive resorts, Cozumel is about a 30 minute ferry ride to the mainland.





We decided to forgo the cruise lines excursions and book our own. We booked a day ( well, really a half day) at Mr. Sancho's All Inclusive Resort. We booked online before the cruise with Cozumel Watersports. For $50 per person we received all you could eat and all you could drink at the resort. It also included beach chairs, a swimming pool with swim-up bar and use of kayaks.





We took a taxi from the regulated taxi stand at the port for about $20 each way total for all 4 of us. We were greeted with a photographer taking photos of guests. We checked in and then found our spot on the beach. We had our own personal waiter, who was hoping for a good tip, that kept us plied with drinks or food from the menu. There was also a buffet set up for lunch, which was kinda meh, nothing special.


We spent about 5 hours at the resort - eating, drinking, hanging out at the swim-up bar, wading in the ocean  and a couple of us got henna tattoos  (just the cool ones). A short taxi ride back to the ship and we were back on board.



Would I do it again? Absolutely! I think I would order more off of the menu rather  than eating at the buffet. But all in all, it was a very fun and relaxing  day in beautiful Cozumel!


Once again, I am linking up with #fridaypostcards