Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Highlights of Cruise #4

I'm really beginning to think that there isn't going to be one entry where I'm complaining about the life I'm living right now! This cruise has, so far, been yet another fantastic one!

Day 1 was home port in Civitavecchia. Sarah and I walked around and did some grocery shopping and then we did very minimal clothes shopping (we each only got two items each! hahaha) and then we did the usual cafe hangout with espresso and free wifi. Got back on the ship and did the "cruisely" general emergency drills, company meetings, and the run through for LUEY. Had our show that evening and then I went to midnight snack to meet Sarah's parents. Oh my goodness, I can totally see exactly where she gets her personality from! They are so funny!! Oh, a bit off topic, but at midnight snack, I discovered something.... I CAN eat seafood and I DO like it! *shock*!!!! They have avacado slices as appetizers for the Day 1 menu, and last cruise when I first had it, I just took the avacodo slices without thinking and ate it without any surprises. Afterwards Sarah told me that there was shrimp and crabmeat on it, come to find it out it was a seafood stuffed avacado. Who would've thought that I could actually stand seafood?? I'm pretty proud of myself because I've always claimed that I despise seafood... guess I"m growing up a litte ;) hahaha

Day 2 was a sea day, so we had our first show, Ballroom Blitz. Therefore we had tech at noon and two shows in the evening, nothing strange or unusual. The shows went really well, although it was a little more difficult for myself only because I’ve been fighting a head cold for about the past week. It’s getting better each day, still have a cough though! =(

Day 3 was Dubrovnik. I was on an early excursion with Kellie, but only because I missed my bus lol oops! We got to drive up the mountain and see the Old City from high above, and of course, take pictures! Then we drove back down and walked around the Old City, which is only pedestrian walking, no cars, bikes, or buses. It was really pretty! We saw a cathedral and a monastery (because really, what else is there to see in Europe….) and then after it ended, Kellie and I walked around to explore. There was a local artist playing in the town square, her name is Ana and she played what I would consider and electric bass? Not the guitar, but bass as in the huge string instrument. Whatever it was, it was really cool and she was really talented!! We wanted to buy one of her cds and we looked everywhere but couldn’t find any! (Apparently they were selling them right there in the square, of which I was informed later. Too bad that’s the one place we DIDN’T investigate!!) Hopefully I can find some of her work on iTunes or something, it was really great! So after that, we had some lunch and just did some sightseeing for more pictures.

Day 4 was Corfu, Greece. I had IPM that day so I couldn’t get off the ship, so I made the best of it by being SUPER LAZY!! I wanted to recover from my head cold, and from running on high speed all the time. I slept until noon, got up to brush my teeth and wash my face, then I finished my book on my kindle, and then napped from 2:30-5:30pm HAHA. We had rehearsal in the gym that evening for an hour, so I went to the gym for an hour and a half before that, and then went right back to my room to be lazy for the rest of the night. Definitely a great day for relaxing, it felt so good!

Day 5 was Olympia, Greece, where I got to see the famous ruins! I didn’t catch a whole lot of information because the tour guide spoke softly, but also because she spoke forever, so I accidentally tuned her our after a while because I got bored… oops! But there really isn’t much left in the site, especially after “surviving” two earthquakes, one being a 7.5! Of what was left, I saw the gymnasium, and area in which boxing was done; and get this. Anything was acceptable except for biting and something else (which I forgot) so basically, people got really rough and some actually died from doing this! How crazy is that!? Then I saw a holy shrine, and then the Temple of Hera, and the Temple of Zeus. But like I said, there isn’t much left after the earthquakes, and what IS left is just scattered allll over the place, but that’s what makes it cool =) So, that part of the tour was fun, but the next part is my favorite! We went to a little café by the ruins, and we got to eat authentic Greek food, drink their wine and ouza, and then did some Zorba dancing!!!! I ate everything that they served, it was all really good and different. There wine was semi-sweet and light, and I didn’t try any ouza because it smelled like black licorice and I’m just not a fan. But the Zorba dancing was a blast! A bunch of people who were dressed up grabbed a bunch of us tourists and made us dance in a circle and they taught us some steps. We had to have danced to three or four songs, it was definitely a lot of fun! Sarah’s mom kept telling the men to “challenge” Sarah and I because “we’re dancers on the ship!!” haha I loved this part because it was so great to experience the culture! One of the lady’s that owned/worked at the café came up to me as I was leaving and told me that she was impressed with my dancing, ahah how sweet! But yes, definitely my favorite part of the tour! Later, when I got back on the ship, I went to the show in the Vista Lounge that night because it was two acrobats from Cirque du Soleil. They were phenomenal!!! Super strong and just completely impressive! Sarah and I got to talk to the guy after and he told us all about his and his wife’s career and where they’ve performed, and then he recommended us to go see Cannes the next time we go to Monaco =) Woowhoo!! After that, Sarah and I went to the sports bar with her dad while her mom played in the casino for a bit and the bartender there is named Marlin, and he’s a riot! He had so many funny jokes, and was just a genuinely nice guy. He kept us entertained for about two hours haha We’ll have to go watch him in the crew show because he told us he’s dressed as a woman to do the dancing because none of the females would do that dance, haha!

Day 6 was Santorini. I just did a simple tour for the island, but there’s really not much to it. We drove up to the highest peak, Profitis Ilias (I think) and got to see all around the island and got some great pictures! Afterwards, we went to the town of Oia, which is the city that you see on all the postcards. It was cute, we got an hour and a half to walk around so I just looked at the shops by myself. I ended up getting the most beautiful earrings and matching ring that we handmade and designed by a Greek designer. The setting is modeled after the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods and the stone is the most beautiful color of Swarovski crystal I have ever seen. I’m really excited about it because I feel it’s truly a Greek piece of jewelry. And the lady told me that the designer only distributes to only a few select locations, so just another piece of info to make me feel confident about my purchase. I REALLY wanted to get the bracelet because it was the first thing that caught my eye, and it was double set so I could wear it with the blue stones on one side, and white stones on the other, but it was just far too expensive. Maybe next time… or one day haha! After Oia, we were dropped off in Thira, where I just walked around and enjoyed the shops. I got myself one dress and then headed back to the ship. I took the cable car down the mountain this time, so I have officially utilized every option of transportation to get up and down the mountain!! Donkey ride up, walking down, bus ride up, cable car down… CHECK! When I got back on the ship, I passed out for a few hours because I was pooped from having to get up early with only a few hours of sleep. When I woke up, I went and enjoyed the Mediterranean buffet on the aft of the ship, and then went to the Lido Pool Party where I got to dress up in a toga!!! We got a bunch of the guests dancing into a congo line, and also on the dance floor by doing dances like the Cupid Shuffle and the Electric Slide. Two little girls wanted to dance so they came by me and I was dancing with them through it all, SO CUTE! After the part died down, I went back to my room to wind down for the night because I had another tour excursion the next day in Turkey =)

Day 7 was Ephesus in Turkey. I got to see the Virgin Mary’s house, which was her supposed final resting place and has been visited by the Pope himself. It was very quiet and peaceful, I enjoyed seeing it. I couldn’t take any pictures on the inside but I got plenty of the outside. Backtracking just a few, the drive to Mary’s house was incredible, up the side of the mountain and it was actually a little scary at times. The roads were so curvy and even though they have the metal railings on the side of the road, they seem smaller than what the USA has, so when I would look out the window, all I would see is the mountain below me and its surroundings. Insane! I kept thinking of my mother (sorry to call you out on this one!) because she gets super nervous around mountains, especially driving up them, haha so I had to laugh at myself a little ;) So anyways, we took that same drive back down the mountain to get to Ephesus, which was amazing! I can’t believe how much of the ruins still remain after all this time; much much more than Olympia. I got to see old Roman baths, the Library, the famous Amphitheatre where the apostle Paul spoke to the Ephesians… all of it was incredible! We walked down the marble road where there were supposed to be tons of shops on both sides, and I could only imagine a bunch of people walking around in togas and Jesus sandals… hahaha stereotypical I know, but it helped me picture things! After Ephesus, we went to a carpet making store right by the port and the host explained a bunch of different types of rugs of Turkey. The important factors about Turkish rugs are actually not the material, it’s the way that they make it and the labor it takes. They are known for double knotting, which is what makes their rugs last forever. He showed a bunch of rugs that were 5-7 years’ worth of labor… how insane is that! The softest rugs were of course silk on silk and they were beautiful. I also got to enjoy my first cup of apple tea, which was actually chilled! I bought some for myself and it’s not in a tea bag, you just scoop the flavor out of a bag and put it in either hot or cold water. Nifty! Another cultural element that I just loved! And I actually met some guests from Michigan during the rug presentation! After all of that, I went back to ship to grab my laptop and now I am currently sitting at the port Starbucks in Turkey! YAY for really good coffee! I was hoping that they might have the pumpkin spice latte, but no such luck. Oh well… I’ll be in Ft. Lauderdale soon!!!

Tomorrow is Athens, Greece, in which I have IPM again so I’m going to take another day of relaxing to myself! I’ll probably be making some phone calls back home tonight and catching so more sunshine on the top deck tomorrow ;) I gotta get really tan before my dad gets here so he has no chance of beating me in our little tanning contests hahaha! After Athens is another sea day, which means tech runs for Vegas and I’m teaching the Foxtrot! Then Day 10 is Messina, Italy, and we’ll see if I get an excursion or not. So like I said, not much to be complaining about with this life!!

Also, I DO have postcards… a LOT of them! I will try to send some from Europe because it’s just way cool to receive them postmarked internationally, but I’m also nervous that they’ll never make it to their final destination. So don’t be alarmed if you receive a postcard sometime in November and it’s dated from September… it’ll be because I’ve waited until I got to Ft. Lauderdale mid-November to send them off. But I do have them! I haven’t forgotten about anyone! =)

Much love to everyone back at home!! I’ll post more soon!! =) xoxo <3

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cruise Number 3 at a Glance!

Well, cruise number 3 has been pretty amazing! Our first port was Livorno, Italy, and Sarah and I got to be escorts on a tour that took us to Lucca and Pisa! Lucca is a very cute and quaint town, surrounded by walls, so public transportation is forbidden within the city. We had to be dropped off outside and walk into the city. It was lovely to see, and I did a little bit of shopping ;) After, we took the bus to Pisa! (The country side of Tuscany is gorgeous!) In Pisa, we got to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and go inside the Cathedral, which was really amazing to see. Sarah and I got matching coffee mugs that lean a little like the tower because we’re goofy like that =) It was a short tour, but it was so worth it to see such amazing landmarks!

The next day was Monte Carlo, which is just absolutely stunning! The buildings and architecture were just amazing! We just walked around for a little bit because it was a show day, so we couldn’t go on any tours. We didn’t do anything shopping either because they didn’t have a whole lot of boutiques/shops, and the ones we did find were SO expensive!

The next day was Barcelona, another overnight stay! The first day, Sarah and I had IPM, so we had to stay on the ship, which was fine because we made a lazy movie day out of it! I think we watched 5 movies? Haahaha it felt good to relax though. The next day we took a Panoramic Barcelona tour, which was my favorite tour so far! We drove around the streets and saw lots of Gaudi’s work, which is absolutely incredible (and insanely expensive to rent for living!) We saw two of his houses, both of which were very unique and different. The first one looked like a gigantic mosaic on the outside, and the other one was much plainer. The best of his work that we saw was La Sagrada Familia… HOLY STUNNING! It was so big, and so detailed, it was just a breathtaking thing to see! The church has 3 facades, Christmas, Passion and Eternal Life, representing what Gaudi considered to be the three most important aspects of the life of Jesus Christ. The whole thing is under construction because although Gaudi worked on it for 42 years, it’s still only 55% completed because he was that detailed in his work. They’re predicting that it will be completed in the year 2026, coincidentally the 100 year landmark since his death. We’ll see how that goes!! This is definitely a must-see for anyone who decides to visit Barcelona! After that we drove up the mountain to see a beautiful view of the city, and on the way we drove past the Palace and the Olympic Stadium =) Such a great tour! After that, we got dropped off in the city where, of course, Sarah and I did some shopping! We did some good damage that day! Haha

The next day was Palma de Mallorca, where we took a tour to a small town in the mountains called Valldemossa and got to see where Chopin (the composer) lived and composed some of his most famous works. After going through the monastery and seeing different cells, we watched a short piano concert and heard 3 of Chopin’s greatest pieces =) It was a cute little tour! And once again, we got dropped off in the city and did even more shopping! We saw the huge cathedral that’s right by the water, which was beautiful! And then we had lunch at one of the street cafes and had one of the most expensive sodas in my life! They were in GIGANTIC glasses, and we had a billion straws that were like, two feet long! SO much fun!! Too bad they were 10.50 euro!! It was more expensive than the entire pizza I ordered haha!!

The next day was a sea day, so we had our Ballroom Blitz show. I taught the Waltz earlier for a 30 minute ballroom class for the guests, that was a lot of fun! They were all very sweet and patient, which was nice because the space we had was a little too small for how many people showed up. The shows went really well too!! I had two solid performances, so I felt great by the end of two shows! It was formal night, so we went up to deck 10 in the Crow’s Nest in our long formal gowns, and had a drink and mingled with passengers and some crew. We were starving after so we went to the Lido restaurant and pigged out on pizza… I swear the ship has great pizza!!! We finally made it back to the room around 1:30am, but we gained an hour woowhoo!!

Today we are in Africa, and we haven’t done too much. Had some training this morning, after helping out with Shore Excursions, and then Sarah and I definitely got off the ship to ride a camel! His name is Ali Baba. It was fun!! Also had a bird on my head, I think her name was Leila, but I can’t remember. Not doing much of anything else today, just been enjoying my down time and free wifi in the port in Africa… Once I get back on the ship I’m going to eat and nap because I’m still super tired from yesterday!!

Tomorrow is Palermo, and after that is Naples… in which I cannot wait to go have another pizza again from Castel Nuovo! I think Europe has the best pizza by far, and I’ve had in every country because it’s so yummy!!! Hope to post more soon!! =) All my love to everyone at home!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photos from Turkey and Santorini

Sarah and I being served our first cup of Turkish coffee!

A view of Santorini, Greece from the top

Susan and I at one of the 3 black sand beaches

The stairs that take you up/down the mountain! I rode a donkey up and walked down

Susan and I on the donkey!!!

(the link is on the right side of my blog)

Photos from Athens, Greece

Pretty stairwell in Athens

Panoramic view form the top!

Myself by the theatre

The Parthenon!

Absolutely stunning

Holy beautiful

A view from the top


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Been a few days, sorry!!! All about Greece & Turkey

Hello from Messina, Italy!! I haven’t been writing as much, and I apologize! I’ve just been busy going out at every port and seeing all sorts of new things, and also keeping up with the responsibilities of putting on clean shows ;)

This cruise has been a pretty good one! The second day was a sea day and we did our Ballroom Shows, which went very well. The third day was Dubrovnik, Croatia and I didn’t do much because I stayed in the port. I did get some groceries and a really beautiful scarf! The fourth day was Corfu, Greece and I explored the city with Ali, Kellie and Sarah. Such cute little town with LOTS of shopping! I found a pair of shoes that I wanted (which I’m hoping to get next time) and I even found a MAC store!! I had my first authentic Greek dish, moussaka, which is sort of like lasagna, but not, but either way it was very good! I also tried some Greek coffee, which wasn’t amazing but at least I can say I tried it! We took a lot of pictures by some beautiful architecture and saw “The Fort” (not sure if that’s the real name for it, but that’s what everyone was calling it). I’m hoping to post pictures of it soon because it was beautiful and so was the sea; so so blue!!

The fourth day was Katakalon, Greece (aka Olympia). I didn’t do much at this port either. I wanted to go see the ruins, but I didn’t make it this time so I’m hoping to make it next time. I just walked around the port shops with some of the girls and got two really pretty full length dresses J

The fifth day was Athens, Greece. HOLY BEAUTIFUL. When we first got there, we had to walk through the city (which reminded me a whole lot of NYC) to get to the metro. We took a 15-20 minute train ride to the shopping area called the Plaka; lots of fun little shops there! Then we walked up the mountain to go explore the Acropolis. The further up we went, the prettier the views got of Athens. It literally looked like building vomit all over the bottom and then the mountains stretched up without any buildings. They weren’t kidding when they said Athens was crowded! We finally made it to the top to buy our tickets to venture around the Acropolis and see the Parthenon. The entire experience of seeing all of that history was amazingly breathtaking. The views, the structures, all of it literally brought tears to my eyes because I couldn’t believe that I was actually standing in a place where I’ve heard so much about through my schooling. It’s absolutely stunning to see everything. I know I saw the Parthenon for sure, and I saw other structures, I’m just not certain what the names of them are. I will definitely post pictures of this city soon because there just aren’t any words to describe the beauty I saw. After walking around, we made our way back to the metro and got ourselves back to the ship. Oh, and prior to getting to the Acropolis, I bought myself a really cute gray European dress and some handmade Greek silver earrings!

The sixth day was Kusadasi, Turkey. The first stop Sarah and I went to was Starbucks!! There was one right by port! This was the second Starbucks I saw so far the other one was in Athens. After, we decided to do some shopping! Any American girl would love this port because the men are all over you and complimenting you and trying to cut you deals on their product haha! But be warned, the shopping IS AMAZING!!! I have never seen so many brand name things (even if it was mostly fake) and little shops! It was almost overwhelming the amount of shops that there were. I wasn’t planning on going crazy… but that’s sort of what happened... oops! I bought my first genuine leather jacket which is super cute!!! I sort of feel like Edward Scissorhands’ girlfriend, bahaha but that’s just my thoughts. I never really thought about getting a leather jacket, but I think it’s going to be a good addition to my wardrobe. After my purchase, Sarah and I sat down with the owners of the store and were served Turkish coffee!! Definitely a different experience than American coffee; it was super earthy, not very bold, but not bitter either, and the bottom was full of Turkish grounds! He said that they made the coffee with cold water? I didn’t really understand him entirely about the coffee making process but I remember that part! After, he did a Turkish tradition, which usually the women do, and he read us our fortune through the coffee grounds. He tipped the tiny cup upside down into the saucer, and let it sit there for a few minutes so the grounds seeped onto the plate and out of the cup. He deciphered my “fortune” from the trail that the grounds left on the cup. He did the same process again by putting the grounds on the plate back into the cup and read the trail left on the plate. The only things he told me was that I was clean and that I am going to get very rich haha! He wasn’t really a fortune teller, but the fact that he played along and gave us that experience was a lot of fun! After that we found a little boutique on a side street that had so many cute dresses, and I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted, so Sarah and I bargained with them and we got 5 dresses for $220; four of which were mine and one was hers! It was a steal though because one of my dresses was over $100 and Sarah’s alone was going to be around $100 as well, so we really did a good job with that! I completed my purchases with a hand-beaded navy scarf with two gigantic peacocks on it; it’s beautiful!! So after all that damage, we decided to leave port because I didn’t want to spend anymore. There are so many good things there, so just be careful if you ever decide to shop in Turkey!! And get your bartering skills mastered, because it’ll work with them. I stalled long enough on one thing I bought (not mentioned because it’s a gift) and I got quite a huge chunk of the price knocked off =)

The seventh day was Santorini, Greece; yet another amazingly beautiful city. The city is at the top of a mountain, and since it’s too shallow for the boat to dock at the bottom, we had to port in the middle of the sea away from the island. Therefore, we had to take tender boats to the actual port. I went with Susan, Levi, John and Jacob because we were planning on going to the black sand beach! We got the port, and had three options of getting to the top: a) walking, b) cable car, or c) riding a donkey. WE RODE THE DONKEY!!  They threw Susan and I on the same one, which was an odd choice but we had fun. It’s definitely a haul for those poor animals. They like to hug close to the wall too, so when they turn the corners it’s a little frightening because you can see over the ledge and it’s such a steep hill! But that was fun; so glad that’s on my list of things I can say that I’ve done! Once we we’re at the top, we walked around til we found our way to the bus. Everything is so simple and serene; it’s all white with blue accents. Even though the streets were crowded it still felt calm. So anyways, we rode the bus to one of three black sand beaches (I forgot the name of it, but it started with a P and it wasn’t the most famous one). We rented beach chairs and umbrellas, and then went swimming and lay out. It felt so good to be in water again! Yes, I’m on a boat, but we can’t really swim in the ocean (obviously) and the pool we can only use at certain times, so it felt good to finally be in the water! And I forgot how funny salt water makes your skin feel! I practiced my rock skipping skills because there were a ton of perfect stones for skipping! (The best I got was 5 haha). While we were lying out, a guy waited on us and brought us drinks and food; it was marvelous! That was really all we did in Santorini. We took a bus back and walked down the mountain (very steep!) and made it back to the ship just a little before all aboard.

Day 8 was a sea day, thank goodness! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going out to see every port, but it’s tiring too! I don’t feel guilty staying on the ship when it’s a sea day because that’s the only thing I can do! We had our “Love in Any Language” show at 10:30am (which is really the singers and dancers singing one song onstage with all the crew standing on stage as well. It’s a big farewell to the passengers). After that Sarah and I went to talk to the Shore Excursion manager BECAUSE we are going to help out with tasks for Shore Ex, and in return we are going to be escorts on some tours! Margo, our entertainment manager, helped hook us up with the opportunity, so we’re stoked. They’re even going to try and get us on the same tours together since we are willing to help them out. I’m so excited to be helping out! Not only can I can tour amazing things for free, but I can mingle with the passengers more! I love that! After that, we had our tech for our show that night (That’s Vegas) and then I slept until dinner time. The shows went really well, it’s so fun to perform on a ship! By the way, if any of you decide to come on the ship and see our shows, PLEASE be loud and crazy in the audience!!! It’ll help us out and hopefully get the rest of the crowd going! Sometimes they’re a tough crowd!!

Today is day nine, and we are in Messina, Italy. Or rather, we were. We left that port at 1:30pm and it is now 3:45pm. I didn’t make it off today because of such a short port stay, and I was up late last night doing laundry so I wanted my sleep. At 2pm, we had a “Behind the Scenes” with the passengers, so we did the first two numbers of our Vegas show, and then they asked us questions. It was fun! There was a mother and her daughter that I have seen numerous times this cruise and they were there asking us questions and chatting with us; they are super sweet! I couldn’t help but think of what it was like when I was young and wanted to meet “famous dancers”… and then I thought about how I AM that famous dancer that they’re meeting! Yeah, I know we’re not headliner famous, but I still felt cool as a kid to meet anyone who did something awesome like dancing on a ship! It’s still crazy to take in that I’m living my dream and doing everything that I’ve always wanted to do =)

So with all of that, LIFE IS GRAND!! I have decided that Greece is a MUST SEE. It’s such a gorgeous country; I never would have expected half of the things that I saw. I can’t wait to go back! If you ever get a chance to go, GO! Simply stunning! Tomorrow is home port day, aka the beginning of Cruise #3!! I have import manning, but I’m hoping I can hop off and try to use free wifi for a while to upload all my pictures! The next cruise we go back to four shows instead of three, so it’s going to be a little busier than this one was, but I’m okay with that! And hopefully that’s when I start being an escort for shore excursions! I’ll keep you posted!! Love and miss you all very much!!!