Friday, November 22, 2013

Mostly Orange Heads

Because I wanted to write out my entire vacation first, I didn’t get to share the cute (we will call them) FALL things I have seen around me this season. Some people are so creative! Makes me jealous! These are things you would probably see on Pinterest if these people actually blogged and posted their pictures. Not that I know who they are or whether or not they do blog. For all I know, they ARE on the Internet somewhere. Guess I'll never know. 
From top left to right
From candy pail to light:
This pumpkin is such a simple, impacting decoration for the fall. Looks very inviting to me. My only issue is I should have bought two extra pumpkins this year on clearance instead of paying full price next year. Either way, I am POSITIVE I will do this to my outside lights next year. Adds a little something fun to the house.
Pumpkin cutie patutie:
This little pumpkin boy is something I need to make for my own front porch next fall. He will look great sitting on my chair welcoming all the trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood. Should be easy enough to make with a baby onesie and some hay.
Shrunken head business men:
While in Dillard's a few weeks ago, my mom and I saw this adorable display of mannequins.
I absolutely LOVE what someone did with those heads! I think the head on the left has a wonderful facial expression for the shape of the squash. The head on the right is cute too, but lacks a little something. (I don’t know what that something is though; I'm just pointing it out.)
Farmer Joe Williams:
Kroger has a farmer near the caramel apples. He looks like something you could buy at the store - the name tag makes him seem like an employee there. Adorable!
I can barely wait to see what people create for the Christmas holiday. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Kinder Eggs in St. Maarten

Day 9
St. Maarten
Our last full day on the cruise.
(Insert sad face) 
We decided to walk to the beach (shown from ship). If you are here, leave the main shopping area and head to the road. Start walking to the left. You will be at the beach and more shopping area within about 15 minutes.
Again, we had a nice view of the ship from here.
On the way here, it was HOT! I was so ready to get in the water! We went to the closest spot in the ocean. This spot was next to some rocks they had placed in order to control the water (I guess). We planned on moving down, but within about 15 minutes, it started raining. Not just raining; pouring! Luckily we were close enough to all the shops we were able to get underneath one of the breezeways. We stayed here for about 20 minutes until the sun came back out. I was really only concerned with my camera and Matt's phone getting wet.
When we went back to the beach, we went to a much better spot. Here we swam, snorkeled for sea shells and talked about all the fun we had had. It was around 2 PM when we finally headed back to the ship.
After showering and eating lunch, we went out to the closest shops in search of free Wi-Fi and souvenirs.
Wi-Fi wasn't free anywhere like most other ports. And we were not paying for it. We walked some of the stores where I found my favorite childhood candies - Kinder eggs:
I bought a pack of 4 and ate 3. (Matt ate the other one.) I don’t see why these aren’t sold in the US. Yes, choking hazard, but so are many other toys. Perhaps parents need to watch their children a little more when giving this treat to them or maybe they shouldn't be allowed for a certain age. Just my opinion though. Very glad I now know where to buy them.
That evening we ate one more time in the main dining room and walked around the ship one more time. I remember we also played mini golf.... one more time.
This was the day of the chocolate bar as well. :)
The following morning we were back in San Juan, PR
Due to a change of plans, our flight didn’t leave until 3:15PM.
We decided to wait as long as we could to depart. Everyone had to be out of there room at a certain time so Matt and I headed to the Lido deck where we watched Good Morning America on the TV. Eventually it got hot and we moved down to the promenade and found us a booth to sit and wait our time to leave.
I had wanted to find somewhere to leave our luggage and go see the forts since I wasn't able to see them before, but Matt made a good point about walking around and being stinky.
I think we got to the airport around 11 or 12. WAY too early! We went to check-in with Southwest and were told all luggage had to be inspected by the USDA. Simple enough. They literally take your luggage and put it through a big X-ray machine. Not sure how they can tell whether or not you have food and/or bugs. We had neither so we passed with the stickers on our bags and checked in again. Once in security we saw a few restaurants to eat -asked people in line if there was anywhere to eat after we got through security and they said yes. A guy a few people in front of us recommend a local sandwich restaurant before security called El Meson.
We both enjoyed the food.
After eating, we went through security and then found some seats. Kept looking for an outlet for Matt to plug his phone in, but none of them were working. We got lucky about an hour before boarding and found a working outlet.
Now you know all about our vacation.
Already looking forward to next year! :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baby Monkey in St. Kitts

Day 8
St. Kitts
At this point, we had spent a lot of money on this vacation. I knew we would by the time we got here. I planned for a less expensive day today (and tomorrow). I had read online you could find cabs willing to take you on a tour of the island for $20/pp. They were right. We were told we would make stops at Romney Manor, the volcanic rocks and the old fort (forgot its name) while driving by many other highlights.
Saw Romney Manor which was basically a bunch of beautiful plants with an old building in front a new building.  
Within this building (not shown), they showed you how they make beautiful art with wax and had a giant gift shop. I forget all the details, but the different colors are done in different steps and washed in between.
This is truly a tourist trap and not somewhere I would visit again. If you come here on your own, you can see everything there is to see within 15 minutes. A bit boring in my opinion. Entrance is free though.

After Romney Manor we did more driving around and saw the old fort from afar. I am sad to report we did not go here. I didn’t know we weren’t going until I saw the cruise ship coming up. I felt a bit miss led. Like Matt said, we only paid $20/pp. Maybe next time. Wish I would have at least gotten a better picture.
We went and saw the volcanic rocks.
Absolutely beautiful!
Took several pictures here. Wish I didn’t have flip flops on or I would have been more tempted to climb down and get a piece of rock to take home. (Not actually sure I could have made it down there.)
While here, we got to hold a baby monkey. Isn't he cute?
I was told to keep my hand around his neck. I guess so he wouldn't get away? I wish I wasn’t holding his neck in the picture. Would have been cuter. Matt did take a nice picture of us both looking at the camera at least.
The cost was as much as you were willing to give. We only gave $1 since I thought we were still going to the fort which cost $8/pp and we only had $17 cash left. I would have given a few more dollars had I of known.
After our two or so hour tour, we went back to hangout on the ship.

Monday, November 18, 2013

St. Lucia's Best Tour

Day 7
St. Lucia
I think the excursions you book can either make or break the island.
Here, I booked an island tour prior to our vacation with a company called Cosol.
The BEST decision!
Seriously the BEST!
Look them up on trip advisor and read all the reviews if you plan on going to this island.
We both had an amazing time!
The cost is $65/pp. Not sure how they make a profit with everything they offer. Seriously!
Per email instructions, we met our group off the ship at the pre-arranged place and time. As we came off the ship, they were breaking us into small groups. Our 15 passenger van (nice) had 11 people and we had Adrienne as our tour guide. He was wonderful! Very knowledgeable and passionate about his island.
Throughout the entire day, we stopped at several picture worthy spots. First stop was a nice view of the ship and the nearby town. At each stop, there were people trying to sell you all sorts of stuff. Our tour guide warned us about them and we really didn’t have any problems with them being too pushy.
 Such a poor community in many places we toured.
This is one picture I thought showed the beauty.
 Marigo Bay
Governer General's House
(I don't actually remember the order we saw everything.)
Our first actual stop was to a banana plantation.
I have never seen a banana plantation so of course I had to take several pictures. The blue bags are placed around the bananas at a certain time by the farmers in order to protect them from bugs and other critters. A flower blooms first and then the fruit comes. Each plant will only make one bunch of bananas. When the plant is done, it is chopped down and a new plant grows. St. Lucia's number one importer of bananas is England. Meaning, you probably won't be trying these ones at your local grocery store.
While here, we got to eat a freshly picked one. (I think it was picked a few days prior.)
We both thought it tasted the same as the ones we are used to, but a couple on our tour thought they tasted sweeter.

Part of our tour consisted of sampling different foods from around the island. All of the groups met at a club house sort of place and we got to have all the food and drinks we wanted. I had water and a bunch of different fruits I have never seen here in the United States (plate #1). Matt had their local beer and a bunch of the fruits as well (plate #2). We were both a little hesitant to try any of the cooked food. You gotta be careful (in my opinion) when trying food in different areas of the world. Don't want to be sick while on vacation because you ate something not fully cooked or your stomach isn’t used to it.
We got to see cashew plants here as well.
Did you know each seed(?) only has one cashew in it? Could be why they are a bit costly.
Our tour guide stopped and got us these yummy cookies.
I can't remember what kind they are though. They were warm and fresh and tasty. While on our tour in St. Kitts (more on that later), we met a couple who had done this same tour with a different tour guide and they didn’t get a cookie so we think this was something just our tour guide did for us. Very sweet of him! And to think, we would have never known this was something extra had we not of talked to other people.
We got to see Toraille waterfall inte town of Soufriere.
Wasn't nearly as pretty as the ones we saw in the rain forest in Puerto Rico, but I still enjoyed looking at it. It was POURING so I didn’t actually go up to it - just took a few pictures from under a covering. I wouldn't have minded getting in it like others were doing though.
Next time I will for sure.
The famous Piton peaks were something I was really looking forward to seeing at/on the way to Jalousie Beach.
Not only did we get to see them from afar, we also got to take a boat right up to them and then go swimming/snorkeling between them. Talk about AMAZING!!!
Absolutely beautiful!
Words cannot express how I felt while there.
We snorkeled (to the right) the whole hour we had here. Crystal clear water. I was wrong when I posted Barbados had the clearest water I had seen... St. Lucia was even clearer. Just a little. We were both worried at first about locking up our belongings, but we got over it and enjoyed our time. They have a reef very close to the beach where we got to see all sorts of fish and plants. Even saw an eel!
I wish we could have stayed here longer.
Like, all day!
Evidently it is expensive to take a cab here since you are about an hour from the ship. I would be tempted to pay the money next time.
I had my underwater camera while here, but you could even see fish from out of the water:

Next stop, the Caribbean's only drive through active volcano - Sulphur Springs.
What a site to see!
I have never seen a volcano! Ever! Very unique. It was even bubbling.
The lady who gave us the short tour told us the bubbling mud was hot enough to burn your skin and possibly kill you. Not something you want to be playing in. The last time it was active was in the 1620s. The smell was like rotten eggs. She said if you don't smell the sulfer, that means it is about to erupt. Hopefully they always have that sulfur smell. I cannot imagine all the damage it would cause if it did erupt.
The active volcano was the last stop of the day. On the hour long way back to the ship, we stopped somewhere to get our 'famous to this tour' fresh bread and cheese.
I want some right now just thinking about it.
The owner of the company, who we had seen in the beginning and when we were trying all the local foods, stuck his head in the van and asked if we enjoyed our tour. Of course we all said yes. He then asked if we enjoyed our tour guide. Again, we all said yes.
I appreciate the owner stopping by and touching base with us. Made me feel like he cared if we had a nice time.
After almost 7 hours on a wonderful tour, Matt and I changed and ate a late lunch.
We were pooped!
This evening was Halloween and we both enjoyed sitting, watching all the different costumes. Some people went all out and had me wondering how they fit the clothing into their luggage. Matt and I had brought TMNT shirts for costumes - never wore them. I wanted to stay up for the 11PM Halloween costume contest, but I fell asleep.   :)
Neat picture, huh?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Crabs, Sea Turtles & Shipwrecks

Day 6
I have seen the most beautiful and clearest water here that I have ever seen! (And I have been to 8 islands at this point. 8 different beaches.)
As much as I like to explore, I am positive we will do the exact same itinerary next time we are in Barbados.
Like before, I researched what to do here prior to our cruise. 
I chose to head to the beach at The Boatyard.
Cab was $5/pp and entrance was $12/pp. Entrance included 1 free drink and a ride back to the ship.
It also included free use of the chairs and umbrellas.
Offered a water trampoline, climbing wall and a rope swing. We didn't use any of these amenities. Maybe next time. 
Prior to coming here I had read you can sign up for an excursion with a company endorsed by The Boatyard to snorkel with sea turtles. They were right! We signed up. We bought a water camera for this event and I thought it was good to go. It wasn't. I don't think I got any pictures of the sea turtles. :( Haven't developed the camera yet.
I did have it working for our next stop on the excursion - a ship wreck. It was one sunk for swimming and snorkeling. I didn't touch it. I did try to touch some of the fish swimming around us.
We saw a crab. 
A neat thing to see. Alive and not at a zoo or aquarium.
After snorkeling with the sea turtles and then at the ship wreck, we went back to swim a little more at the beach. I couldn't get enough of the water! Plus, the sand was SO soft!
We BOTH had a wonderful day in Barbados and look forward to going there again. I hate that it seems you can only go there from San Juan with Carnival.
Crazy picture:
When we were backing out of the pier, this boat was riding against our ship. For several minutes we watched it. Couldn't figure out why. It was a mystery.
We found out it was because a ship captain from Barbados backed out our ship. He had to get back on his boat when he was done. Not sure why he did this - our ship captain managed it on his own at every other port. Maybe he was practicing? Guess it will stay a mystery.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fun At Sea

Day 5
Sea Day
I don't remember exactly what we did on our one day at sea.
I do know we had lots of fun. I didn't bother to take any pictures of doing stuff like playing mini golf or Bingo which are some of the things we did do on our day at sea. The day at sea was the one day I barely brought my camera along on what we did. I figure I might as well tell you all a little more about my cruise ship - The Carnival Valor.
I do have a picture of the theater where we watched two Broadway type shows along with another show featuring some people on the ship and the dancers. All three shows were good. The first show we had seen before. I worried we were going to have repeats for all the shows. I was glad that wasn't the case. Our second show was amazing! The show with people from our show was pretty cool as well. Even got to see our male cruise director as Dolly Parton.
In this same theater is where I took a towel folding class like I did on my last cruise.
We made a dog and a bunny. I think. For sure the dog. I might be wrong on the bunny. Whatever it was, the body was the same. We only had to learn a different head.
Maybe I can learn to fold towel animals like our room steward. It might help if I wasn't too cheap to buy the book. Would be useless unless I was to practice. Which I probably wouldn't do. I'll stick to my yearly class.
We shared many meals in the main dining room where we had A+ service.
The main event for us, of course, was the lobster and shrimp dinner.
We both ordered two. As did everyone around us.
 One of my other favorite meals was the salmon. I think I ate it three times.
Days at sea are nice, but I prefer being at an island during the day and then hanging out on the ship in the evening.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Walk in St. Thomas

Day 4
St. Thomas
Let me start off by saying, prior to vacation, I had fully researched things to do and had planned everything I wanted to do. Matt never cares what we do so I am lucky enough to have full reigns of the entire vacation planning process.
St. Thomas is beautiful!
Just a bunch of green hills with big looking homes and small boats everywhere my eyes could see.
I wouldn’t mind moving there and starting up my own 'fill in the blank' tour. This is a US territory which might make it an easy transition if we ever made the move. (Won't ever happen - wishful thinking.)
My plans were to take a cab to the top of Blackbeard's Castle and then follow my map downhill back towards the ship stopping at all the different buildings and sites I had marked. On the way there, the cab driver warned us it was closed due to the low tourism this time of the year. I had read that online, but figured it would be fine since I thought we would still be able to view the castle, the amber wall, 99 steps, etc.
I was wrong!
Disappointly wrong!
We started at the castle... (That we couldn't actually go in)
Stopped to see this gorgeous view of the ship from way up there... (Took tons of pictures)
Didn't get to see the rum distillery or the wall made of amber stones.
Did get to walk down the famous 99 stairs. (I read online prior to going there are actually 102.)
Our historical sightseeing stopped at the old fort they are currently still restoring. Looked
A bit of a disappoint not seeing everything I had wanted to see, but we decided to make the best of it. Once at the old fort, we were next to all sorts of shopping. We browsed a little bit then decided to walk back to the ship. Even though I had read online that it wasn't a long walk, we asked someone who had just walked from the ship. The couple told us it wasn't bad at all. Maybe a 20 minute walk. They were right. I am glad we didn’t waste money on a second cab.
Once at the ship we decided to eat lunch and then stay on the ship opposed to going somewhere else in St. Thomas. I think next time we are at this island we will go to one of their famous beaches and snorkel. 
I did enjoy taking in the scenery.      :)