Wednesday, March 18, 2015

To See What We Will Sea

After our great night hanging with the cannabis crowd morning arrived. We toured the Ferry Plaza Market Place in search of  culinary grail. Is there a time when this place is not a sea of humanity? The day flew by and it was time to board the Star Princess. Under the Golden Gate and off to Mexico for ten days of relaxing fun.
Crew Member Art Star Princess

Out the Golden  Gate

Sushi Time Star Princess

Coffee Drinks Star Princess

Buffet Breakfast Star Princess

Music aboard the Star Princess
South to Mexico Star Princess

Cookies and Milk Afternoon Star Princess
Bear in Gift Shop Star Princess

Friday, March 13, 2015

Princess Mexico Cruise Redone

I always like to stay the night before a cruise within walking distance of the port. Does that mean I'll walk? Not likely! This trip we hit the Hyatt Regency San Fran. To say we got a room with a view would be an understatement.
Room with a view Hyatt Regency San Francisco

The hotel was  bustling with a convention group. Of all things it was the International Cannabis Business Convention! Talk about potluck! I digress. At dinner time we walked the Embarcadero Plaza and stumbled across happy hour at Crystal Jade Jiang Nan. Wine,  fried food, conviviality and  a sexy atmosphere made for a great evening.
Mixed Mushrooms - Happy Hour Crystal Jade Jiang Nan S.F.

Fried Chicken - Happy Hour Crystal Jade Jiang Nan S.F.

Let the cruising begin!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Scoop

OK is the scoop. I have been doing this blog thing for ten years and it is time for a change. It took a long time but I finally realized that I can take this "thing" in any direction I want. Lately it has been a chore to produce a blog post. It took me four months to report our ten day cruise to Mexico. Guess what? I just repeated that same cruise a few weeks ago. It was on sale for almost half price! Who wouldn't go again? I didn't want to be boring or repetitive so I sat for a while with blog anxiety. This whole gig was about me enjoying life and expressing that joy online. I asked myself what I really enjoyed most and that is taking pictures. So as this blog goes on my focus will be on photos. Join us on our photographic adventures. I'm sure I can't keep my mouth shut forever so there will be some words. Thanks for following!

Our latest food adventure was a local one. La Hacienda, Novato, Ca.
Two taco combo  La Hacienda, Novato, Ca.

One taco combo plate La Hacienda Novato, Ca.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Runaway Weekend Renewed

Back in January we took an overnight "runaway weekend" trip to San Francisco. We rolled the dice on Hotwire and purchased a room at Hotel Vitale. The place is definitely a five star hotel. To experience this luxury at a "Hotwire" price was a  lucky gamble. We enjoyed the amenities to the fullest.
Hotel Vitale San Francisco

The Americano restaurant in the Hotel Vitale offers great food and service at very reasonable prices. Why even leave the hotel? We tried breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Amercano Restaurant Hotel Vitale San Francisco
We could get used to this luxury!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Star Princess Puerto Vallarta Mexico

The last port of our Princess Mexican cruise was Puerto Vallarta. There was so much to do there that we had some tough choices. The first order of business was to watch the local pilots turn this giant ship around and dock it in small quarters. The view of the shore changes as the the ship turns.
Star Princess docks at Puerto Vallarta

We decided to spend a day at a resort in "Old Town." I copied this from Avril's "log" which describes our day famously.

Puerto Vallarta - Thursday

We decided to do something we have always talked about – we took the cab to Old Town and arranged to spend time at a resort hotel called Los Arcos there.  For a total of $45 for both of us – we got two chairs, a small table, an umbrella (which they set up), towels and 400 Pesos credit for food/drink.  We had use of a beautiful pool area, access to gorgeous bathrooms, food and beverages which are ordered from your lounges and served beach side.   Plus, the people watching was fantastic – parasailers launch from the beach;.  a couple of guys were cutting up fish off the back of their jet ski. A half  dozen gray pelicans loitering nearby, until a  small white dog came charging down the beach and the pelicans stumbled over each other trying to launch themselves into the air.   At the end of the day, we closed our account.  We each had two large margaritas and I had a hot dog (delicious, served with fries, a slice of bacon, chopped tomato, onion on a toasted bun with just a teeny bit of mayo) – we spent 202 pesos of our 400 allotment – you don’t get the $$ back, you just have to pay any overage.  A great day.

Los Arcos Puerto Vallarta Mexico
While on the beach, vendors come by and try to sell you an array of goodies. I bought a knock off pair of sunglasses that looked remarkably like very expensive Oakley glasses. My son later called them Foakley's, fake Oakley's. Another vendor specialty is fish and shrimp on a stick served with lime wedges. Avril was intrepid enough to try some. I found out later that these barbecue fish on a stick are called "pescado embarazado" translation "pregnant fish!" I found a  Puerto Vallarta  promotional video on YouTube that featured  the very vendor who sold to us. 
Pescado Embarzado Puerto  Vallarta

 Exhausted we cabbed it back to the ship. The vacation was not over, we had three days at sea before returning to San Francisco.

Two days later, after a morning of activities, we decided on pizza for lunch. Here is another story from Avril's log describing  my observation of a fellow passenger.

Saturday -  Do you remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding – where Toula is explaining to her aunt that her fiancĂ© is a vegetarian?  Her aunt replies, “What, he don’t eat no MEAT?!  It’s OK, I make him lamb …” 

There is a little pizzeria at the back of the ship – they make reasonably good pizza – everyday, you have a choice of Margherite, Pepperoni, Cheese or the specialty of the day.  Dad was in line to get the today’s special, which was had Buffalo mozzarella, ham, artichokes, mushrooms.  In front of him a man said in an indiscernible accent, “I want the vegetarian pizza.” 
Pizza technician: “I don’t have a vegetarian special today, but I have cheese.”
Man:  “I want the vegetarian pizza.”
Pizza technician: “I don’t have a vegetarian special today, but I have cheese.”
Man:  “Will it be out soon?”
Pizza technician: “I don’t have a vegetarian special today, but I have cheese.”
In the meantime, the special of the day pizza came out of the oven and the man said, “I want that vegetarian pizza.”
Pizza technician: “But that is not vegetarian, it has ham on it …”
Man : “I want that vegetarian pizza with ham.”

  Real life is full of chuckles.  J
Yes we are excited to cruise again!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Princess Mexico Cruise La Paz

Our ship  docked at Puerto de Pichilingue, an industrial port about ten miles away from our destination of La Paz. We had  breakfast and shot photos of the port before  boarding free buses that shuttled us into town. The buses have tour guides on board that give a humorous narration about the local area. I always put a tip in  the bucket at the front of the bus.
Puerto de Pichilingue
 We arrived in La Paz as a parade celebrating Mexican Independence day had just ended. There was still lots of activities from the celebration and photo ops abound.
La Paz Mexican Independence Day November 2014
 Along the Malecon there are beautiful statues and sights galore. We always stop at the artisan marketplace  a few blocks from the bus stop. Avril loves the selection of gorgeous  handmade jewelry at incredibly low prices. 
Malecon La Paz Mexico
We walked and people watched and had a grand time. We searched for beauty everywhere.
La Paz Mexico Courtyard 

I stopped at a convenience store and purchased bottled water. Normally I purchase water the cruise ship sells  at the exit to the ports. U.S dollars are widely accepted in La Paz. As a rule we always carry sun screen, wind breakers, hats and cameras in our Eddie Bauer traveler daypacks.  It is prudent to carry a little cash, credit card and identification when visiting. Exhausted we boarded the bus back to the ship. We had  a bit of lunch before our nap.
Lunch selection Horizon Court Buffet Star Princess
We decided to have dinner in the Crown Grill, the upscale steakhouse on board the Star Princess. It was a $25 charge per person extra. I would say it was worth every penny, an extreme meat experience!
Crown Grill Star Princess
Nest up on the blog Puerto Vallarta!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Star Princess Loreto Port of Call

The second stop on our ten day Mexico cruise was Loreto. This port, like Cabo, requires that you board a tender boat to take you into the port. We have not been to Loreto before and were pleasantly surprised at the quiet beauty of this little town. It is not the bustling circus of activity we found in Cabo. Apparently this town has not been "discovered" by the mass of tourists. Kind of hope it stays small. As our tender drops us a fleet of cabs await us but we just hoof it along the shore. Directly to the right of the entrance to the port is an uncrowded beach where two lovely ladies relaxed in the sun. This photo could be a marketing tool to attract the young crowd to Loreto. Beautiful scenery in Loreto! Avril reminds me that I have shoes older than these lovely ladies. I appreciate everything beautiful!
Beach Port of Loreto

A short distance away is the La Mision Hotel where I grabbed some photos of their scenic grounds. They have a bar and restaurant with a great looking menu. I'm told they cater to the eco-tourists that flock to this area. I think it would be a great place for a wedding party.
La Mision Hotel Loreto Mexico
We followed the crowd from the ship to an avenue with shops and restaurants where we succumbed to a souvenir wooden bowl. I believe it was Avenida Miguel Hidalgo.  A quick stop at the church to say thanks for our blessings.
Loreto Mexico
Loreto Mexico

After a bunch of walking I decided to cab it back to the port.The cost of the ride $5! Between my horrible Spanish and the cabbies pretty good English I learn that a lot of American retirees are buying property here because the dollar goes a lot further. We will keep that in our memory banks. Back at the port we snapped a few final pictures. Avril is an avid bird watcher and wanders away from me in search of birds. She spotted a blue footed booby and exclaims such. She startles an elderly Chinese man as she points at the bird and says booby! He appears mortified and tries to put distance away from her. Crazy women and booby!  We laughed about this the rest of the day. We headed back to ship and just before sunset we went up top for photo ops. The last tender boat is returning with the crew from shore. The wind has picked up the swell and the boat rises to the occasion.
Star Princess Tender Loreto Mexico
Sunset Loreto Mexico
It was wine o'clock! Then we ate dinner.
Dinner Star Princess
Next up La Paz!