Sunday 25 January 2015


I have some exciting news to announce! We are headed to Disneyland in April for our annual trip! In addition to visiting Disneyland, we will visiting relatives (sadly, I missed my cousin's wedding in November), and my boyfriend also has a very special and important meeting! My Disneyside will be coming out in preparation for my trip. Lots of Disney posts coming your way in the next three months, get excited!

Thursday 22 January 2015

Arrivederci Europe...

We are a family in love with cruising. So naturally, on our last day of the cruise... our plan was to book another cruise. We slept in, and ate lunch at the Windjammer. We hung up our socks to dry, and we headed upstairs to book our next cruise. After a long discussion with the manager, the boyfriend's parents and the two of us booked a sailing on the Anthem of the Seas, which is still under construction! It will be one of Royal Caribbean's largest ships among the Quantum and Allure. The ship is due in April 2015, and our embarkation date is one year after its inaugural sailing. We are booked on a 12-day cruise sailing out from Cape Liberty, a new port for us (a trip to New York is on my 'must-do' if we sail from Jersey!). This cruise will be sailing to the Caribbean. Now you might be wondering, why did we book a cruise on board? Well, Royal Caribbean had a promotion during our booking as they usually do. We have learned in the past, that booking onboard is the way to go. Your deposit is refundable up till 75 days prior to sailing, and there are always promotions. The promotion that was offered to us was the Vow-to-Wow sale, and the second guest's fare is half off. This promotion is actually on right now! Unfortunately for us, the new ships are not included in this offer. The final price for the Anthem was $4700 (for a balcony stateroom). That is a huge difference in price comparing to our usual cruise fares. This is one of the main issues in regards to why we are hesitant about this cruise. Another important consideration were the ports. The Anthem dock in ports we have been to: Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, and ports we have not been to: Haiti and St. Kitts. It is a longer cruise. We have decided to make a decision when 2016 rolls around, so we have a year to mull over this. It is hard to be excited about a cruise that is over 18 months away but we were happy to have another cruise coming up.  

After we finalized our booking, we went up to the deck so I could finish my book. We enjoyed the silence as the ship sailed the sunset.

It was the perfect end to our cruise. We sailed back into Venice, where we spent one more day winding down before flying home. There you have it, our first Mediterranean cruise. I truly hope you enjoyed my cruise review!

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Life is Better Cruisin' | Part 4: Katakolon

This is it, the last port. I've had so much fun reviewing this cruise, and looking through our photos. I'm so so sad that this is coming to an end. We aren't cruising this year (well, who knows! Maybe we can sneak one in later in the year) but we did book two cruises while we were on the Splendour. I will go into detail about that in my next post! Now onto Katakolon...

Katakolon is a small town in western Greece. It is the gateway to Olympia, where the ancient Olympics were held. For me, Katakolon was an afterthought. It was the "I'll decide what to do when time comes" port. I wasn't particularly intersected in any of the excursions. However, the boyfriend was interested in Olympia because of his interest in the Olympics. So we booked the excursion to Olympia (with shopping) for $80 per person.

Katakolon was beautiful. Clear blue skies, and clear blue water. It was another hot day, but there was a slight ocean breeze to keep us cool from the hot Grecian sun. There are olive trees everywhere! I have never seen an olive tree in my life, so I was pretty amazed. They are actually gorgeous trees. Naturally, I had to buy some olive oil to bring back home to my mom.

We started our tour with yet another scenic bus ride. Our tour guide was quite the talker. We enjoyed the tour, but our tour guide spent way too long at Olympia talking about the history. By this time of the cruise, everything was starting to look the same. We had seen so many statues and ruins, that we were starting to sleepwalk through our tours. Most of our group was getting restless. The boyfriend wanted to see the Olympic stadium, which was behind a vaulted tunnel. The two of us walked down the track to the marble finish line to take some pictures away from the crowd. We also stopped by the Archaeological Museum of Olympia (bottom right). We browsed through rooms of sculptures and a bronze collection, looking at objects and statues recovered from excavations. After we visited Olympia, we had two intervals of 20-30 minutes of shopping in the area (unfortunately, they were all overpriced souvenirs).

We were only dropped off at the port about 45 minutes before boarding time (we were 45 minutes behind). Our tour guide was very surprised to see three ships docked at Katakolon. She said she had never seen so many people and so many ships in Katakolon on one day. We had planned to check out the beach at Katakolon but I also wanted to hunt down some postcards. We didn't have enough time for both, so we felt that the longwinded tour cheated us a little bit. We were told that the beach had black sand, but I'm not sure if it's actually black. Nothing turned up when I did a little search on Google to find the name of the beach. We spent our last few minutes walking through the coffee shops and souvenir shops along the port. The boyfriend had one last ice coffee before we finally boarded. Here was our view of the Splendour from our cafe (bottom left)...

Well, there you have it! Have you been to Katakolon? What was your experience like? Leave me a comment! I'm going to do one more part on our cruise to wrap up the review and talk about the last day of our cruise. Stay tuned!

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Life is Better Cruisin' | Part 3: Santorini

Santorini may have conquered my heart before I even set eyes on it. I have been enamoured with Santorini for as long as I can remember. I would daydream about the traditional blue topped domes, and the stunning views of the village alongside the clear blue ocean. I made it my mission to visit Santorini ever since we started cruising, and when we finally decided we were going to Europe, the only port I had on my list was Santorini. Santorini is an island in the Aegean Sea, it is the result of a volcanic eruption. The island is too small for cruise ships to dock, so passengers arrive on the island by tender. Our ship docked by Santorini just after the sunrise. We had booked an excursion with Royal Caribbean for about $80 per person to see the island. We boarded our bus, and drove around the beautiful island. Our tour guide made a mistake, and thought we would be visiting the winery first (I know its 5 o'clock somewhere but really, at 7 AM?). It was closed, of course, so we had to circle back. It took us a little longer to get to our destination and we lost a little time in the process. Our starting point was the scenic village of Oia. We strolled through the town, exploring their shops and art. We stopped at an old medieval castle to take photos of the picturesque town, and to enjoy the breathtaking view.

Afterwards, we boarded our bus, and headed back to the winery for a brief tasting. Nothing too exciting there, but another break taking view of the ocean (top right). Then our bus dropped us off in Fira, where we parted ways with tour guide. Was it worth our $80? Not at all, but it would have been too difficult to do it any other way (renting a car seemed like too much work). We walked around Fira, and explored the shops and churches in the area. My boyfriend enjoyed a visit to a fish spa, where fish remove dead skin from your feet. He said the experience was pleasant, and ticklish, but his feet felt very smooth after the treatment. I, on the other hand, was too scared to try it out. We ate lunch at Zafora, a restaurant recommended by Royal Caribbean. I ordered a chicken souvlaki, and the boyfriend ordered a grilled octopus. Delicious!

Our view at lunch time were the three ships stopping in Santorini for the day. Gorgeous. Our crew told us there were three ways to get back to the bottom to reach the tender boats: (a) take the cable car, (b) get a ride from a donkey or (c) walk. As we ate our lunch, we watched the line for the cable car get longer and longer. We contemplated on walking but it seemed like a very tricky walk down. After grabbing a few more souvenirs, we eventually lined up for the cable car. The cable car at Santorini was not very high-tech. With three ships at the island, there were a lot of people waiting for it and the cable car could only transport 24 people down at a time. Each trip took exactly 6 minutes, and an extra few minutes to load and unload the passengers. We had been told it would be quite a wait but we thought the crew was just being cautious. Well, they were not kidding! We started lining up for the cable car at 3 PM, right under the hot Grecian sun.

We finally got on the cable car after a long, and hot wait. The short ride to the bottom was nothing special, but we saw this little guy at the bottom of the station. A real-life moustache cat! He was just the perfect model. We were sweaty and frustrated with the cable car, but all that went away when we saw him. We waited some more for the tender, and we eventually made it back onto the ship at 4:15 PM. Oh Santorini, I love you but you need to figure out how to manage a large crowd of tourists!

We had a brief, but amazing time in Santorini. The village of Oia is a dream. Being able to visit the island, and cross it off my bucket list was a dream come true. One day, we'll meet again.

Our cruise was now almost over. We had one more port before we return to Venice, and fly home to Vancouver. I'm sad that my review is ending soon, I've had such an awesome time reliving my memories. Up next is Katakolon, Greece.

Saturday 17 January 2015

Life is Better Cruisin' | Part 2: Kusadasi

I was beyond excited to go to our next port, Kusadasi, Turkey. We booked an excursion to tour the ruins of Ephesus, an ancient Greek city. Our $95 excursion also included lunch and a quick tour at the House of the Virgin Mary (and of course, the infamous carpet presentation). We started out early, but there were at least two other cruise ships at the port, so Ephesus was very crowded.  It was extremely hot that day, and since we were in such a dry area (at the ruins), the heat was rising even faster. Our tour guide was an older gentleman who moved quite fast for his age. We even lost him couple of times! He was very enthusiastic and he told us a lot about the history. Finally, after weaving through the crowds, we had the chance to see the Library of Celsus (on the bottom right), one of the best preserved sites of ancient Ephesus.

After the tour, we headed to the Cittantica Ephesus Theme Park for lunch. The food was amazing and the washrooms were pristine. Really, that is all I ask for in foreign countries. As I've said, we are high maintenance travellers! I have no idea if we were served traditional Turkish food, but it was by the far the best meal I've had on the cruise so far. We enjoyed a short dance by the performers before heading back to the port. We also sat through a carpet presentation as all cruisers must on their excursion. Thankfully, we did not feel pressured at all, and we all left after the presentation. Our tour guide was super easygoing and did not force us to stick around. However, the boyfriend's parents were not so lucky. After their presentation, they had to sit through a jewellery presentation as well. We shopped for some souvenirs (I had to get some turkish delight from Turkey!) and stopped by a grocery store on our way back to our ship. We love looking at all the different foods at a foreign grocery store. On our way out we saw a few crew members load up on some packaged raspberry tarts. When I say load up, I meant they each bought 6-8 packages. My boyfriend and I were convinced it had to be the best snack ever, so we bought some too. Lemme tell you, they were delicious! If anyone is going to Turkey, you gotta try it. It is that good.

(courtesy of yours truly via Instagram)

It was here that we actually got our first shot of our boat, the Splendour of the Seas. Not the best shot, but here she is.

There were also stray cats all over Ephesus to my delight. Our tour guide told us the cats keep coming back because the tourists keep feeding them. They're smart! At last, we say goodbye to Turkey as we sailed into the sunset.

Have you been to Turkey? What was your experience like? Up next: Greece! Santorini is by far my favourite port and the island is just gorgeous. I have so many beautiful pictures to share. Stay tuned!

Friday 16 January 2015

Life is Better Cruisin' | Part 1: Dubrovnik

We had booked the Splendour of the Seas about ten months in advance, which is last minute for us. Usually, we book our next cruise well over a year before the sailing date. We had booked back-to-back cruises one from Barcelona to Rome with inside cabins, but ultimately cancelled it because yours truly couldn't get the time off. We decided to go with Splendour's itinerary because the ports were much closer to the attractions. We knew if we booked the Western Italy and France cruise, we would be spending a lot of time commuting to and from the port, and really, we didn't want more of that. The Splendour had four ports of calls, Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kusadasi, Turkey; Santorini, Greece and Katakolon, Greece. In this post, I will share my embarkation experience and our short, but sweet visit in Dubrovnik.

Our hotel refused to call us a porter the morning we checked out, so the boyfriend and I walked over to the train station and grabbed a guy ourselves. It's a little difficult when you can't call a taxi and have them drive you to the port. We took the People Mover (also known as the skytrain in Vancouver) to the port, and stopped for one last cappuccino at the cruise terminal. Royal Caribbean was speedy and efficient. This is my second Royal Caribbean cruise and honestly, I cannot remember a quicker check-in (Carnival is a mess). In no time, we were on the boat. Now, I will be honest. We had known this was a smaller ship with less amenities but we couldn't help but feel little bit disappointed once we were on the ship. There was not enough to do. We were used to the nightly comedy shows and multiple showings of the musicals. Splendour didn't have shows we were interested in. On top of that, we had the late seating for dining so we were often too tired form our excursion to get ready for the early viewings of the shows.

What a gorgeous view of Venice! Our first day on the ship was pretty uneventful. Dinner was underwhelming as well. I'll fast forward to our first port of call, Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is totally do-able on your own. We took a cab to Old Town (€10) and walked around for hours - so much to see! We also survived without any Kunas. We made purchases in places that took Euros or credit card.

There are so many stray cats in Dubrovnik! I'm a crazy cat lady so I was thrilled! We met this gorgeous little guy in Old Town. It was sad to see because he was so skinny. The streets in Old Town are all cobblestone, which was a bit slippery if you didn't wear the right shoes. Thankfully, my flip-flops were just fine. Old Town is surrounded by stone walls, which were built as a defensive measure to protect its citizens. You can walk up to the top, but you cannot see over the walls unless you paid to do so at the entrance. It is quite a steep walk to the top, and definitely not for elderly people. We wanted to see what was up there, so we walked up... only to find more residences. Finally, we stopped to have lunch and dessert (seen below) before heading back to the ship. And might I mention that Dubrovnik has the most amazing ice cream! I can still taste the strawberry flavour.

A quick look at a few other photos... I love this first photo of my boyfriend walking to the town square alongside a dog. It was so sweet. We had no idea whose dog it was though, so he may be a stray! We also visited a few churches, photos were allowed as long as the flash was off. Finally, the last two photos are of the steep stairs we climbed, first the view going up (you can't even see the top of the stairs!), then going down.

Thanks for reading this entry! I hope you enjoyed my review of our first port. There will be four parts, one for each port. Stay tuned for Turkey!

Thursday 15 January 2015

I Just Came to Say Hello

Hello everyone! 

Happy New Year! How is 2015 treating you?!

I am finally back after a long break. I am sorry for going off the grid, and for saying that I was coming back but didn't. I am back now!

I believe I mentioned I decided to go back to school in October. I enrolled in Graphic Design. It is something I've always been interested in. In high school, I loved creating avatars and icons. I learned how to use Photoshop (actually, I used Jasc Paint Shop Pro) online through tutorials and but never received any formal training. I have been unhappy with my job for quite some time so I decided I should take the step to go back to school before I was too old! I am halfway through the program already. Needless to say, it is a lot of work and certainly requires 100% of my time.  

I'm very excited to showcase some of my work here! I would love to hear constructive criticism and feedback. Here is a project I did for one of my classes. Note: My images are from Pixabay. Images are free for commercial use, and no attribution is required. 

Thanks for reading. Please stick around, there's more to come!