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Good Morning Italy

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2014 at 6:25 am

I must preface this post by saying that it’s not current even though it says ‘yesterday’ in there as if it’s current. It was current when I wrote it, and I did have every intention of posting it immediately so as to be the kind of blogger who is very up to date with everything. However, as it does, life got in the way and I am now one of those bloggers who is apologizing for the delay and getting around to posting it a week later. In my defense, life is a grand adventure and the first rule of adventures is that they can be very distracting.* That being said, I quite enjoy a cheeky blog post written in first person present so I’m not changing it….I hope you enjoy a small tale of Italy….

As our train gently whirrs through the Italian countryside, I’m overwhelmed with waves of nostalgia as memories from the Legend Europe season come flooding into my brain. Arriving into Milan yesterday was hectic, finding our hostel stressful, and we really just focused on getting ready for today. When we booked the trip, it was hundreds of euros cheaper to fly into Milan, which is why we did, it was really only a stopover point. Arriving to a taxi strike meant lots of wandering, trams, trains, me speaking pieces of broken Italian, and by the time we got to the hostel we didn’t have much interest in exploring the city itself. Sorry Milan, I’m sure you’re lovely, I’ll have to give you another chance next time. We did, however, see a crazy massive cemetery and the beautiful architecture of the train station, so there’s that.

Up this morning at the crack of dawn, still exhausted from the calamity of Amsterdam, we arrived at Milano Centrale and located our train after several delicious Italian coffees (and a tea for Emma, she’s jolly well British that one is). Snuggled in my cosy Trenitalia seat, gazing out the window, I’m feeling particularly thoughtful. I am so excited to experience Venice again and in a whole new way. I can’t wait to see the city anew through the eyes of my friends and to remember old adventures. I think that has been one of my favorite parts of this trip so far, not only seeing new things myself, but watching my friends discover parts of the world that I already love. Their excitement makes me excited all over again, as though I’m seeing things for the first time as well.

That brings us here, to the train, still whirring along. I almost feel as though someone hit the pause button, and I have a small window of time with my thoughts. The girls are sleeping like angels, and the rest of the people in our car are eerily quiet, as if they know I need this time to myself. Looks like I still have time to catch a wee nap before we arrive. Dearest Venice, I can’t wait to see you again!! Ciao!!!!

*The second rule of adventures is to wear layers, because you never know!

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Weekends in Amsterdam

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Amsterdam is a very dynamic city. It has so many different facets and personalities just waiting to be discovered.

Saturday morning I went for a lovely run down by where the cruise ships come in, it definitely made me a touch nostalgic, and it felt strange to be there without the majestic shadow of the Carnival Legend looming in the distance. I love to explore via my morning runs because it feels very unobtrusive. No one suspects early morning runners to be tourists so you really feel like a local. Saturday morning was fairly quiet, people going to work, house boaters enjoying a morning coffee on their open decks. Some dog walkers and other runners exchanged morning greetings with each other.

Saturday night, taking the advice of a bartender close to our hostel, we wandered into a live music bar in the clubbing area of Amsterdam. The band was fabulous and by the time we left the bar, it was packed and so were the streets. Saturday night in Amsterdam is electric. People everywhere all with different agendas but all enjoying themselves. Business people just finishing late dinners, families taking evening walks, club goers just getting started. The later it gets, the more the streets are populated by nightlife enthusiasts eating from boxes of ‘Wok to Walk’, looking for the next party, or just trying to find their hotel rooms. Our hostel, The Flying Pig, was ever entertaining, a haven for free spirits and fellow travelers. There was always someone to share a story and a beverage with, but everyone also did their best to keep the noise to a minimum in the dorms, for those of us who wanted some rest. Our particular dorm slept 32 people, which was definitely entertaining. The girls and I had our own little corner, and in the five nights we spent there we watched dozens of jovial strangers move in and out. We began to feel like old pros, chatting with each new group about their travel plans, or where they had come from. I had a tougher time than some, as I’m a light sleeper at the best of times, and an insomniac at the worst, but it was an adventure and I wouldn’t change it for the world. We met some of the most wonderful people in The Flying Pig, and I highly recommend it.

Sunday morning I went for the same run, but it felt as though I was running in a different city. In the same manner that Saturday night exploded with activity, Sunday morning in Amsterdam was boisterous and lively. Everywhere along the water, families laid out blankets and picnics and little children in bathing suits dipped their toes in the water. Dogs chased frisbees, and moms with strollers chatted to each other. People everywhere loaded up their boats with supplies for the day, preparing for a day on the water. The people of the Netherlands all seemed bound and determined to enjoy their Sunday in the glorious sunshine.

Tourists headed to the Anne Frank haus, or the Van Gogh Museum, took river cruises, and marveled at the beautiful architecture. I think that sometimes in a city with such a revered nightlife, there can be a tendency to forget about the rest of the hours in the day. Amsterdam has so much to offer everyone, no matter what time of day or what your interests are, there is something for you in Amsterdam.

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Turn it Up!!

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2014 at 1:45 am

I very rarely blog about technology….actually I don’t think I’ve EVER blogged about technology but this is a special case. So here I go, blogging about technology. There’s quite a lot of instances where travel and technology come together, sometimes they clash, but sometimes it is a beautiful thing. Myself, I’m a music junkie, I love to be surrounded by music and think life is better with a soundtrack. So naturally, I like to bring the music with me wherever I go. I have had numerous speakers in my life, most of which I have broken, particularly when traveling because I tend to sit/sleep/stand on my luggage with wanton disregard towards the possessions within the luggage. Last year when I was in California, on a whim, I bought this neato little cordless speaker guy that kinda looks like a orange grenade but is way better because it only blows your mind with awesome sound.

I didn’t really anticipate this speaker to A) be very loud or B) last longer than that vacation because it was quite inexpensive and I’m a notorious speaker breaker. Low and behold, I got that speaker back to my hotel room and it played not only loudly, but clearly as well. I would also like to point out that it is now May of 2014, I purchased that speaker in October of 2013. That little orange ruffian has been through a vacation, a ship contract and now another vacation and has yet to be destroyed. (I probably shouldn’t jinx myself, or it might break before vacation is over!!) it’s practically indestructible!! It charges from a USB connection, lasts for ages, and somehow has survived the life of Erica. I didn’t know who made this little guy until I closely examined him this morning, looks like Phillips does. All I can say is brava little guy, turn up the music and keep it loud!! Everyone who likes to take their music worldwide could do with one of them in their suitcase!!

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Paris and the Grevin Wax Museum

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2014 at 9:38 am

The second leg of our epic European adventure took us to glorious Paris!! Having not been to Paris in what feels like eons, I was very excited to return. One thing I’m very very glad we did was purchase the Paris Pass (www.parispass.com). If you haven’t heard of these handy cards, they have them for lots of major cities across the US and Europe and they are very clever. You can purchase them for varying numbers of days and they include your admission to multiple museums and tourist attractions all over the city, as well as metro passes and hop on and off buses. It can even get you discounts at restaurants! We purchased the Paris Pass for two days and really made the most of it. We went through our trusty little books and picked out all the things we really wanted to do. One of those things was the Grevin Wax Museum. I love wax museums but one of the things that always annoys me is that you can never seem to get really good pictures in them and I always want to get right in the action. The Grevin Wax Museum did something I’ve never seen before, it let guests dress up and pose with the wax people!! There were designated spots around the museum where you were provided with props or costumes and allowed to join the show!! My personal favorite was when we donned crowns and capes to join the kings and queens of years gone by. I absolutely loved this chance to ‘interact’ with the wax sculptures and if every wax museum did this, I would be a happy camper for sure!!

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Swiss-tastic!

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2014 at 7:52 am

Well, the time has come that I am on vacation! Hooray!! My contract on the Carnival Imagination was fabulous and amazing but I am definitely happy to be on a little break. For vacation, I and some friends have been planning an epic adventure since January. Emma and Saffie are two of my very favorite people ever and we are so excited to be spending some time together in Europe!! They are both residing in England so that was our meeting point. Having spent so much time in Europe on the Legend, I had an idea of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see again. So we it our heads together and came up with a fabulous vacation. The first leg of our journey, Emma and I went to Switzerland. My very dear friend Deb who used to be my roommate is currently living just outside of Zurich so we stayed with her. First of all it was fabulous to have a chance to catch up and re-connect with Deb. I had seen her last year, she came to Amsterdam to meet me when the ship was in, but that was definitely not enough time.

Switzerland is an amazing country. I really loved it. It’s so clean and peaceful and the people are friendly. The Alps are absolutely breathtaking. During our visit, we went up Pilatus, which is a mountain just outside of Luzern. There is a train that sits on an almost 90 degree angle that takes you up the mountain. We had planned to hike up it, however that takes 5 hours and we had ended up sleeping in that morning. So up the train we went. There’s a lovely little restaurant up at the top and a short jaunt to the peak from there. The mountain was stunning. They remind me a little bit of the Rockies. I would love to go back for longer and hike up more mountains!!

After descending Pilatus, we visited the city of Luzern, which is exactly what I expected a Swiss city to look like. From the cobblestone streets to the architecture, to the famous old wooden bridge, to the majestic alps in the background, Luzerne is perfection.

In the evenings, we sat around eating fresh Swiss cheeses, fruits, and meats, drinking wine and enjoying each others company. Emma and I enjoyed learning some Swiss-German, and playing with Deb’s new kittens.

In the mornings, I went for runs up the closest mountain to the house, an epic stair run with gorgeous views from the top. Switzerland is lovely. I would love to get a job in a hotel there and live there for a bit, since I speak French, that would hopefully make it easier to find such a job. As far as places to live on land go, Switzerland just made the short list!!

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Catching Up

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Im feeling as though I have so many things to catch you all up on. I haven’t blogged nearly as much lately as I would have liked to. I have so many things to share. This contract is coming to an end and it’s been completely brilliant. It seems as though every contract I meet a few people who I can’t believe that I ever lived without. This contract has been an amazing one. New department, new responsibilities, (some of which I will be blogging about) new experiences (hello Panama Canal!) and amazing new people. Specifically my very dear friends George and Giggles. George is my cruise director and Giggles is my assistant cruise director. But moreover they are on my top ten list of my favorite people of all time. I literally don’t know how I lived without either of these people in my life but I’m so happy that I never have to live without them ever again. I have learnt so much from them both and don’t even think that I can accurately express how much I adore them both. I am actually going to my next ship with George as my cruise director and I am so excited to continue my career with him by my side!

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This is How You Remind Me

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2014 at 4:58 am

I think that everyone who lives away from their families has certain things that remind them of home. It’s always interesting to see what is most important to each individual person. For me, the winter has a lot of things that remind me of home. For one, Ukrainian Christmas, which we’ve talked about. Two other events this year really made me miss home:

Number 1:
Winter Olympics. As a horseback rider and gymnast, Summer Olympics are generally the one that I can’t get enough of, however my sister is a figure skater and has been since we were kids. Every Winter Olympics, as far back as I can remember, my whole family would gather on the couch with hot chocolate and blankets and we would watch the figure skating (also other parts, but skating is most vivid in my mind) and my sister would analyze the performances and tell us all about each move. We would also often be at the skating rink to see my sister in action. This year, watching the skating on the TVs on the ship, I really missed my family. Winter Olympics also of course, mean hockey, and that also makes me miss the sense of community and togetherness that hockey brings to any Canadian city, especially during a Canada vs US Olympic game!!

Number 2:
Oscars!! Oscar time is exciting for everyone and I always enjoy them no matter where I might be. But for some reason this year I could hear my mom and grandma’s voices in my head all day. Oscar time in my house was always followed by days or weeks of magazine page tearing out, dress examining, and decisive statements like: ‘we HAVE to go see this movie, it was up for an Oscar’. I think we only actually went to the movies a handful of times, but we were always really excited about the prospect of going. Even during the rest of the year, mom would come home with rental movies (and now that rental places are extinct, movies on Netflix, or Tivoed) for us to watch solely because they had generated Oscar buzz.

I’m not entirely certain why I am extra nostalgic this year, possibly because I haven’t really been home for a long period of time in two or three years. Possibly because even though we make our own families out here on the seven seas, nothing is quite the same as home. I do know that as much as I love what I do and where I am, I also love that I can still surprise myself with the things that send me home for a little mental family time.

This contract is flying by, 33 days until I am home sweet home! I can’t wait to criticize Oscar fashion choices and cozy up on the couch with my family!! What reminds you of home??

Arts and Crafts

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2014 at 7:48 pm

This post has been long in the making, sorry for the delay!! During the crossing we did a multitude of different activities from what we would usually do. One of those was arts and crafts. I know not everyone loves this kind of thing but I’ve always been a crafty type of person, it runs in my family. My mom is an artist, my dad builds everything, my sister is a do-it-yourself guru and I’m not really good at anything like that but I’ve been trying my whole life….(don’t worry, I do have skills, I’m the sporty one). So when the word came down from on high that we could do arts and crafts, I jumped at the chance to orchestrate it. Myself and a colleague of mine became the queens of arts and crafts and although at times it was stressful (imagine being mobbed by 200 ladies looking for a cross-stitch pattern) we really had a blast. Every day we did something new including cross stitching, balloon flip flop making, satin flowers, scrap booking and a couple other fun things. We really got to know the guests and made some fun things. One day we decorated straw hats and then had a parade down the promenade deck. Some of our lovely guests volunteered to have their photos taken for this blog so I can show you exactly how much fun we had!! My job is so awesome!!

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Panama Canal Adventures

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2014 at 5:43 am

I remember being on the Legend and looking at the locks on the way into Amsterdam and thinking that after seeing those, I desperately wanted to see the Panama Canal locks.

BAM

Here I am! Panama Canal! Just like I dreamt. What an amazing experience!! The locks are even cooler than I imagined! They are all massive, and the canal itself is beautiful, lush forests on either side. We have a lecturer on board who made announcements all day long as we sailed through teaching us all kinds of exciting things about the Canal and South America. Just as it is with any very exciting event on board a ship, the crew all gathered at our open deck and joyously shared this fantastic event with each other. This trip is something that only the smaller ships can do as the large ships do not fit through the canal. We had members of our photography staff up in a helicopter taking long distance photos and video for our voyage video. I’m so thrilled to check this off my bucket list.

We had such an amazing time and I’m so happy I got to experience this adventure first hand and I’m so happy I can share it with all of you!!

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Jamaican Me Crazy!

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2014 at 11:22 am

I’ve been so excited and busy settling into my new role and preparing for the repositioning cruise that I forgot to tell you all about it!! We have left Miami for the final time, and embarked on a fantastic 16 day voyage after which we shall remain in LA!

We have been working hard to make sure we have enough activities to keep our guests all occupied for 8 sea days, plus Panama Canal transit day, which is kind of special, we are at sea technically but it’s such a cool experience that most of the guests spend half the day outside watching the locks. Writing new trivias, brainstorming new activities, orienting lecturers, comedians and fly-on magicians to our ship; all part of a days work for the entertainment team.

Now that we’ve set sail on the much awaited crossing cruise, everything is running pretty smoothly (knock on wood!!)! Our first port was Grand Cayman, and then we got to Montego Bay, Jamaica!! We had a chance to get out in Jamaica with most of the fabulous entertainment team and we had an amazing day on the beach. We’ve been working so hard and we all really needed a relaxing beach day. It was a wonderful team building day, we had so much fun and we all got a bit of a tan!

Coming up on the cruise we have Cartagena, Colombia; transit through the Panama Canal; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! Those ports plus a whole whack of sea days make up our fabulous repositioning cruise. Stay tuned!!

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