My Travel Philosophy

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Friday, November 4, 2011

January Cruise

Pulling all of our plans together!  It's only 77 days 'til we leave and I'm starting to get a little excited!

January 20:  fly from Milwaukee to New Orleans (we'll need to bum a bed and a ride to the airport from Steve and Stacy since our flight is at 6 a.m.).  We'll be staying at the Courtyard in downtown New Orleans just steps from the French Quarter.  One of the first places I want to hit is Southern Candymakers for some of their excellent pralines!

I've been watching The Next Iron Chef on Food TV from 2009.  One of the finalists was John Besh who has restaurants all over New Orleans.  Since I've already been to many of Emeril's restaurants in New Orleans, I think I'll make dinner reservations for us that Friday night at one of John Besh's restaurants.  Then, I'm guessing we'll take a little tour down Bourbon Street that evening.

Saturday morning, January 21:  breakfast at Cafe Du Monde for beignets with enough powdered sugar to cause diabetes!  We always hit Cafe Du Monde while we're in New Orleans and, hopefully, there will be street performers all around Jackson Square.  This will be a really great day:  the ship doesn't depart until 4:30 so there's no rush to get there at the crack of dawn.  A leisurely breakfast and final walk through the Quarter will be lovely. [Note:  after writing this blog, I watched a special on Food TV about the best places to eat in New Orleans.  Alton Brown swears that the beignets at Cafe Beignet are the best.  Now I'm in a quandary -- may have to try both places!]

Then, check out of the hotel and take a short cab ride over to the cruise port (it's almost walking distance but not quite), and get ready for a fun cruise.  Because we'll already be in town, we can be appropriately dressed for the weather rather than waiting forever for our luggage to show up like we've had to do in some past years.  We'll start having some drinks with little umbrellas and listen to some steel drums, and start converting from New Orleans jazz to Caribbean calypso.

I also booked two shore excursions for us today.  We'll be at sea our whole first day, but the second day we'll dock in Cozumel and I've booked a Salsa, Salsa, and Margaritas class.  We'll learn how to make 7 different kinds of salsa (eating it along the way), 2 different kinds of margaritas (with a lot of tasting along the way), and they're going to teach us some salsa dancing.  It just sounds like loads of fun instead of the typical beach or shopping type things that we normally do.

Our second day, we'll be putting in at Georgetown, Grand Cayman where I've booked a snorkeling adventure.  There is a sandbar reef over which swim a whole bunch of stingrays and you snorkel right among them, feeding them periodically.  The reviews I've read and the videos I've watched seemed like maybe this was something not to be missed.

From Grand Cayman, we go to Jamaica but I haven't booked anything there yet.  We've been to Jamaica a couple of times and nothing on the list looks really "not to be missed".  Guess I'll have to think about it a bit and do more research.

Only 77 more days to get our planning completed.  This is going to be a great trip!

January Driving Tour

Mom is headed to Florida next week for a nice visit with my Dean and Carol, and Aunt Jan and Dale -- all of whom live fairly close together on the Tampa side of Florida.  Aunt Ethel is going with her and they'll be staying in a timeshare all week and, while she's there, Mom is going to be looking for a place to rent for a couple of months this winter. [Sidebar:  Good for you, Mom!   Get away from the cold and snow!]

The plan would be for her to go back after the holidays for 2-3 months.  We were chatting about it this week and thought it would be great fun to make the journey down there a trip in itself.  I'm going to go along for the drive and fly home.  Logistics will be interesting because Jeff and I are leaving on a cruise the third weekend in January and I don't want to miss Stacy's book launch in early January, so I'm thinking about leaving around the 10th and having a really fun drive with some stops in Springfield, IL to visit the Abraham Lincoln home and burial site, and in Memphis to visit Graceland, and a dip down to New Orleans for some fabulous cajun food and visits to some fun places.  Then, we'll cut across the panhandle and that beautiful Gulf Coast area all the way down the Gulf Coast of Florida to where ever the ultimate destination will be.  Not sure how long it will take for the journey, but we'll see really fun things all along the way.

Then, I'll come home and go on a Caribbean cruise.

2012 is already shaping up to be a pretty fun year.