Sailing onward to destination Bermuda – West End

image image

We’re on a three-week cruise celebrating our 50th anniversary, along with the Caribbean Princess Cruise Line!

Our journey so far, after a delayed start from Houston due to severe weather, took us to Port Everglades in Florida (See my first post in this series.)

Trying to make up for lost time, the Caribbean Princess sailed away during the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, April 21, leaving Port Everglades in our wake and headed for the next port destination, West End – Bermuda.

Just call us lazy because for the past few days we have requested breakfast delivered to our room to enjoy as we watched a little news on TV, and kept current on the ship’s course. We decided to take our paperbacks out to the deck chairs for some contemplation and relaxation. We have settled into our lazy days, gourmet meals and live entertainment every evening.

Tonight will be our first formal evening, so we made sure that we had our party clothes ready to go to the Coral Dining Room on this always-fun occasion. The dinner was a culinary delight, unfortunately, I felt ill a while later and stayed in my room the remainder of the night. These things do happen and it’s a good idea to pack Imodium for such occasions. The next day is Friday and I thought it best to take it easy and do some reading on the balcony, which is really an awesome alternative! The weather is in the 70’s, mild and pleasant. The views of the Atlantic are spectacular in its deep, aqua-blue sereneness.

The Caribbean Princess is back on schedule. Today we would prepare for our arrival in West End Saturday morning April 23 around 7 a.m., by watching a presentation on Bermuda. The island offers glass-bottom boat rides, an aquarium, museum, zoo and several golf courses, plus lots of beaches and water adventures! We were planning a tour on our own and take a boat ride from West End to Hamilton, then take a bus back to the port area, or vice versa, with our friends Don and Margie.

This island is quite spectacular! As we near our destination, from our ship we can see the British Royal Navy WWII staging area in our sights. The weather is perfectly pleasant and in the 70’s.image

West End, Bermuda, is a bustling place full of tourists, buses and traffic. Buses have the right of way here, where every possible post boasts a sign that says, “Give way to buses!” I wonder what’s the rush, as buses fly by.image

Once in town, we walked the streets and found shopping malls, churches and restaurants. The history here is British, so traffic drives on the left, which makes American’s uneasy to say the least. There are narrow, winding streets, so our bus ride was pretty much like a fast ride at DisneyWorld. I could see pedestrians hopping out of our path as we barreled through, barely missing bus stops!

The City Hall and Arts Building caught our attention with its pristine white exterior and clock tower — very British!

Our walking tour led us to a church with beautiful stained-glass windows and tall steeple. The Anglican Church of Bermuda, Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, was consecrated in 1911. Beautiful!image

Walking around West End was exhausting on sloping streets, and often the walkway would lead to steps down to the next street level.

We decided to stop for a beer and snack at a restaurant with outside tables – Bone Fish Bar & Grill. Here was the best place to do some people watching, and enjoy our cold drinks during the heat of the day, which was still only in the 80’s.image

image

Our boat ride across the bay by water taxi was uneventful, although the scenery was well worth the effort.image

We left West End, Bermuda, thinking that for a tropical island, this one’s climate was not too hot to enjoy the surroundings — I give it an A+. I would like to return for a longer visit one of these days…

The Caribbean Princess would now set its course for Liverpool, England. Yes, that means we won’t see land for about a week on this trans-Atlantic voyage.

(You are reading the second post in a series depicting my travels on the Caribbean Princess ship for three weeks from Bayport Cruise Terminal in Houston, Texas, to Ft. Lauderdale, Bermuda, Liverpool, Wales, Hamburg, Le Havre/Paris and South Hampton/London in the spring of 2016.)

image image image image image image image image image  image image image image image image

Weathering the unexpected on a three-week cruise!

jel_1523r_01Being flexible and packing lots of patience is the key!

imageimage

Storm closes the Houston Ship Channel

Storm closes the Houston Ship Channel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our three-week 50th anniversary celebration cruise would take us to Fort Lauderdale FL, West End Bermuda, Liverpool England, Holyhead Wales, Hamburg Germany, Le Havre/Paris and ending in South Hampton/London.

Elated and excited, our hopes and expectations are very high, as we maneuver through embarkation on the Caribbean Princess on April 17, 2016. Coincidentally, the Caribbean Princess is also celebrating its 50th anniversary!

It was 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon. Our good friend Tom dropped us off at the Bayport Cruise Terminal, since paying to park for three weeks was not an option for us. We checked our bags; checked in with passports; got our Cruise Cards, and boarded the ship.

As usual, they require that you stop for your first onboard photo, before you take off on your own to discover the ship. We had three weeks ahead of us on this gorgeous vessel, where we planned to relax, be entertained and served gourmet meals every day. We also knew that we had several excursions already booked (online) and we were very excited for each one!

Little did we know that our ship would not set sail until more than 24 hours later! More about that saga in due time…

Our bags arrived in our balcony cabin in no time at all. A Happy Anniversary poster on our door, along with balloons, greeted our arrival! “Princess Patter, your daily guide to life at sea” awaited us as well. In this newspaper, you can find any and all information you need for each hour of the day or night. Such as how to dress, where to eat, movies and times, stage shows, how to connect to the ships Wi-Fi, the names of your captain and other VIP crew members. This wealth of information made life onboard a little easier.

We decided to get lunch in the Horizon Court Buffet before doing our self-guided tour of the ship. One thing we found out quickly is that it’s a huge ship! It’s sad to think that this would be the very last time the Caribbean Princess would depart from the Bayport Cruise Terminal, as the terminal is set to close in the very near future. It seems that the Houston Ship Channel is extremely busy, and the possibility of problems arising any minute that would interfere with cruise ships’ schedules is enough to deter them.

After lunch we started our tour and discovered that on deck 15 Midship, Movies under the Stars was showing a Billy Joel concert, followed by a Bon Jovi Concert and an Elton Jon Concert. The cruise staff was preparing for the bon voyage party. 

Our departure time from port was scheduled for 4 p.m. The entire east Texas coast and vicinity was under a severe weather watch and we learned from Captain Bommarco that 65 passengers had missed their flights from Dallas, and we would wait until 8 p.m. for them to arrive and board. (Later, he adjusted that timeline to 1 a.m. due to the weather, high winds and rough seas.)

At 5:15 p.m. that day, which is our scheduled dinner time, we met up with our friends Don and Margie and two other dining couples who would be regulars at our table each evening in the Coral Dining Room. Surprise! We enjoyed a wonderful anniversary celebration surprise – cake, song and a glass of wine! The wait staff at our table was always attentive and friendly, making us feel very special.

My husband bought a Wi-Fi package. Yay!

Since the weather was bad, we decided to watch a movie in our cabin and await our 1:00 a.m. departure time, according to the captain. The waves lulled me to sleep that night.

We couldn’t believe we were still docked at the Bayport Cruise Terminal when we awoke the next morning. The delay was due to tremendous storms over the entire Houston/Galveston area, with high winds, flooding and tornado warnings, forcing the ship channel to close. Thankfully, we were safe onboard our ship at port during the tremendous storms.

Finally, about 2:30 on Monday afternoon, April 18, the Houston Port Authority reopened the ship channel, and we’re finally on our way across the Gulf of Mexico toward our first port, Fort Lauderdale. Now we understand why the cruise lines are not happy with the Houston Ship Channel.

The Amazing Spiderman movie was scheduled for the outside Movie under the Stars that afternoon, but I’m pretty sure that the weather prevented folks from enjoying it. There are plenty of other things to do inside where it’s dry. With so many activities going on at any given hour, there’s something for everyone!

After breakfast at the buffet, we explored the ship further, had lunch, explored some more, then dinner and the day was almost gone. After dinner we made our first visit to the Grand Casino, which could not open until the ship was in international waters. In fact, none of the onboard shops could open until then either! The Gulf of Mexico is very rough now and the ship has picked up speed, causing it to rock and roll along.

My husband bought a coffee card! Yay!

We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, so you won’t find us going to the clubs and bars at night often. There are usually very good movies showing on the ship or on TV in our room, and we generally chose this option, after going to catch a stage show in the Princess Theater. The point is that you make your own schedule at your own pace. That’s the best thing about cruises!

By Tuesday morning we had sailed out of the storm, and we awoke to a beautiful sunrise! Pink skies and calmer waters! This day would be laid back, enjoying the meals, the entertainment and the casino.

That night we cozied up for Theater under the Stars and watched the movie “Concussion.” We decided to skip our dinner group and opted for burgers and fries with beer, while watching the movie. It’s a great way to spend the evening, watching the sunset and the first star of the night. I made a wish, of course!

Due to the nearly 24-hour departure delay out of the Houston Ship Channel, our schedule was really off. We arrived in Port Everglades/Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday in the afternoon, not that morning as was previously planned. All shore excursions had been cancelled and could not be rescheduled, however, refunds were issued. Therefore, we did not go ashore at Port Everglades, but we did get a good look at the port area and surroundings from deck. There were lots of yachts and sailing vessels of all sizes and enormous, elaborate homes by the water. Our plans to tour South Beach, Miami, would have to wait until another time.

Fort Lauderdale is known as the Yachting Capital of the World. The fort was constructed in 1838 and the city was incorporated in 1911. There was a population of more than 165,000 in 2010. The area has been occupied by natives as far back as 4,000 years! It’s famous for its weather, beaches (7 miles), the Everglades, the inter-coastal waterway and cuisine, and it’s located only 20 miles from Miami’s South Beach.

We had made dinner reservations in the Crown Grill for Wednesday evening, where we met up with Don and Margie. The filet mignon was perfect! Sometime during the morning hours, after 2:00 a.m., we left Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades, and headed for West End (Bermuda).

I’ll pick up my story here in my next blog, as I write about our adventures from port to port in the spring of 2016 during a three-week 50th anniversary cruise. Until then…

image

image

Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL

image

Movies under the Stars

image

 

Finding the birthplace of Texas

Exploring the wonders of Washington County

Last fall I found myself on a media tour of Washington County Texas with more than a dozen other travel writers. I’m a resident of the Houston suburbs, so I was not unfamiliar with certain parts of our tour. But it was thrilling to get the perspective of a tourist. My discoveries were amazing,  and I want to share them with all my readers: Finding the Birthplace of Texas; Exploring the wonders of Washington County.

While many in our tour group stayed at peaceful bed and breakfast properties or on a working cattle ranch, I found myself in downtown Brenham enjoying a luxurious Victorian room in a historic 1800’s renovated grain building at the Ant Street Inn, a boutique hotel. This was amazing for me, as each room presents with authentic Victorian furnishings, which I love! You can feel the history there.

I’m so excited about the newly renovated Simon Theater, and the Antique Rose Emporium was blissfully delightful. Most of our group took a turn at sitting behind the president’s desk in the mock setting of the Oval Office at the George Bush Presidential Library.

There are so many places that exude Texas history, such as the Barrington Living History Farm, the Cotton Gin Museum and Independence Hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the actual birthplace of Texas.

March is usually the time the year that almost everyone I know in the Houston area goes to Washington County to photograph their kids, wives, husbands, pets and grandkids among the Texas bluebonnets and Indian paint brushes, especially near Brenham and Chappell Hill.

Don’t miss a tour of the wineries in Washington County…it’s worth your time: Star of Texas Winery, Saddlehorn Winery, Windy Winery and Pleasant Hill Winery. I hope you get an opportunity to stay at Ant Street Inn, Lillian Farms Country Estate B&B, Southern Rose B&B or Texas Ranch Life working cattle ranch. Some of the places we ate included Must Be Heaven Café, Funky Art Café, Nathan’s BBQ, Ninety Six West and Brenham Grill next to Ant Street Inn.

I’ll be back soon with another travel adventure. Right now, I’m packing for our next cruise, TBA at a future date. Until then, happy spring!

Enjoy a glimpse of Washington County and enjoy my travel story in The Tribune at http://www.ourtribune.com/article.php?id=19926

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking the walking tour of Historic Downtown Georgetown

IMG_9087My last post was about Round Rock, Texas, and the Round Rock Donuts.

Moving on we took a little tour of Georgetown, where I found some treasures at one of the local antique shops.

Georgetown is located just north of Austin off of IH-35, and it has the distinction of having been voted the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas” in 1997. However, they claim that this title in no way indicates that the town is a bunch of squares – on the contrary!

Foodies and shopaholics will love Georgetown! Antique shops and boutiques, with an abundance of places to eat, will fill up your day, your weekend or your week.

It’s a beautiful town, with Victorian architecture and local watering holes nearby – Lake Georgetown, Blue Hole or San Gabriel River, where fun in and around the water is always waiting.

Founded in 1848, by 1880 the town boasted a courthouse, the state’s oldest university and the railroad.  Things were good, although in the beginning this frontier town looked quite ordinary with mainly log cabins and shacks.

Georgetown’s Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the historic Williamson County Courthouse, a Neoclassical structure, is a focal point that is being restored to its former days of glory. Victorian commercial architecture fills the streets and is now protected by the national register and the Georgetown Heritage Society. You will find scattered throughout Georgetown many displays of art, especially in downtown square and Southwestern University.

Georgetown has had much success rejuvenating its downtown area due to the city’s participation in the National Main Street Project. This program is piloted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and helps to bring about economic, as well as, architectural vitality in towns across America.

With so much to see, it’s a joy to take the walking tour of Historic Downtown Georgetown. They like to say that Georgetown is the hill country’s most beautiful little secret. And I agree!

See you next time, when I venture out to tour and enjoy more of what Texas has to offer. It’s a big state, you know! Adios!

Trilla

February 20, 2016

New photos added to our walking tour of historic downtown Georgetown, Texas.

IMG_9122 IMG_9124 IMG_9123 IMG_9126 IMG_9125 IMG_9128 IMG_9127 IMG_9130 IMG_9129 IMG_9132 IMG_9131 IMG_9133 IMG_9134

Discovering Round Rock Donuts

IMG_9069I’m a big fan of the TV show on PBS titled “The Daytripper,” where you’ll find Texas-born and raised Chet Garner exploring Texas, one day at a time. One particular day, he was exploring Round Rock, and that really got my attention!

After hearing me explain why I wanted to visit Round Rock, my family and I made a trip there one Saturday morning to get our reward!

Round Rock Donuts is located in this Texas town and it is world famous! Since 1926 this yellow/orange donut has been winning the hearts and stomachs of all who enter. This Texas favorite comes from a yeast-risen, bread-like dough, with fresh eggs bringing out the color. This sets them apart from ordinary donuts. And, this is the home of The Texas Donut, which you have to see to believe. Which is exactly why I wanted to visit this place. I wanted to make sure that Chet wasn’t just pulling my leg, so I had to go see for myself.

This Texas-size donut is incredible and, except for the size, looks and taste just like the regular size ones. But you can imagine being on a business conference in Austin and suddenly seeing this big mamma on the breakfast buffet!

We sampled all we could eat, and with a sad and fond farewell, we continued our Saturday, but always remembering what we had for breakfast. It’s something I will never forget…  http://roundrockdonuts.com/

Round Rock ranked among best, most affordable cities in U.S.

I’ll see you back here soon with a look at Georgetown, Texas, which is just a stones throw away. Adios!

 

 

 

The Three Foodies take in Bollywood Pageant USA 2015

The Three Foodies enjoy a night of Indian culture.

The Three Foodies enjoy a night of Indian culture.

Eating spicy foods, shopping, entertainment and friendship are the things that The Three Foodies enjoy the most. Arceli, Shalni and I celebrated my belated birthday on this day, and I will always remember it with deep gratitude.

On Sunday, Sept. 6, we dressed in our loveliest Indian attire and headed to the Stafford Center for the Bollywood Pageant USA 2015, presented by Bollywood Shake.

But let’s not get the cart before the horse.

First we looked for a place to have lunch and decided on Haveli on Hillcroft Street, in Houston, which offers Indian, Halal and Pakistani cuisine. We sampled almost everything on the buffet, with Chicken Biryani our favorite! We enjoyed a dessert of rice pudding, and it was very good and sweet. The Cashmere tea was a great way to end our meal, before heading to Stafford, Texas, to shop and attend the 2015 Bollywood pageant, all taking place at the Stafford Center in Stafford, Texas.

Shopping was a real treat with vendors offering everything Indian in every color one can imagine! We bought items ranging from a dress, ring, and henna tattoo to Indian tea. Chiro’s owner Jigyasa Anand promised to mail the matching pants for my dress, which she did immediately.

The beauty pageant was exquisite! This event would choose 2015’s Miss Teen Bollywood USA, Miss Bollywood USA and Mrs. Bollywood USA. We enjoyed the entertainment and the beautiful gowns worn and displayed by the contestants. The judges were attentive and, even though we cheered for different contestants, the winners were very beautiful. They all looked like winners! The entire event was a whole lot fun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH1CKUBzhAw

The Three Foodies enjoying the celebration!

The Three Foodies enjoying the celebration!

My Little Garden

Today I’m so excited! When I planted my little tomato and pepper plants, I wasn’t sure if enough sunlight would reach them to survive and produce.  
But this morning I picked three banana peppers, three jalapeno peppers and two green tomatoes!
My hubby loves fried green tomatoes, so he’ll get a few for lunch today!
My tomato plants have grown to about 5-6 feet tall and have a ton of blooms. However, there’s a tropical system in the Gulf, so I’ll have to wait and see how they weather the storm.
If you’re thinking, “I wish I could grow vegetables and herbs,” just know that you can!
My herbs are still doing good, except the oregano, and it didn’t like all that rain we had in Texas recently. 

Here’s a look at the tomatoes and peppers in my tiny garden!