Sailing onward to destination Bermuda – West End

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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

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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.)

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Antiquing in Livingston with the Three Foodies

Fun Americana Day!

The Three Foodies take in the Courthouse Whistle Stop

The Three Foodies take in the Courthouse Whistle Stop

Three friends, each from different countries and culture, yet we came together in friendship to share our love of food, life and the good ol’ USA.

After our previous daytrip outings to sample Indian cuisine at Bombay Sizzler in Spring, Texas, and Filipino food from Sarap Pinoy Restaurant in Humble, Texas, the Three Foodies were up for some local East Texas fare. We may be in what people consider the southwest, but there’s plenty of southern cooking going on here, too!

So we set the date, and off to Livingston we went. In less than one hour we were shopping at Downtown Treasures Antiques, while waiting to have a leisurely lunch next door at the Courthouse Whistle Stop!

The Courthouse Whistle Stop is aptly named, as it sits directly across the street from the Polk County Courthouse in Livingston, and the railroad passes by the courthouse, as well. Their serving dishes are vintage plates and saucers, none of them matching, which lends to a very down-home, country feel.

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From the menu, I ordered the southern-style appetizers for our group, such as fried green tomatoes, fried okra and jalapeno poppers. For our meals, each ordered a different dish, including chicken and dressing (a casserole recipe), grilled chicken sandwich, chicken tenders and chicken Alfredo. Yes, we ate lots of chicken! But the appetizers were what set the stage! We talked about old movies, such as “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Steel Magnolias.”

The view from our table inside the Courthouse Whistle Stop

The view from our table inside the Courthouse Whistle Stop

Joining us for lunch was a good friend from Onalaska, Nita. My vehicle was full of donations that were delivered to Nita to benefit a favorite local Onalaska charity, Kids’ Free Clothing Exchange (KFCE), which serves the clothing needs of struggling families from seven surrounding counties. So, today was a good day all around!

After lunch, the Three Foodies explored enticing antique stores along Highway 59-S to look for more “treasures.” We found trinkets, gems and more at Junk in the Trunk, West Lake Antiques  and Antiques and More Consignor’s Mall. Arceli found a treasure — a sterling silver blue topaz ring, and for a very reasonable price. I had to drive back a few days later to buy the framed Egyptian papyrus that I spotted that day and should have bought, but didn’t. These things often happen when you’re antiquing or flea-market shopping. It’s all part of the adventure!

Looking for treasures at Antiques and More Consignor's Mall

Looking for treasures at Antiques and More Consignor’s Mall

On our way back, we stopped for dessert at the Happy Days Diner on S-59 at Shepherd. We were hoping for pie, but found cobbler instead! Arceli and I tried two: pecan cobbler and the blackberry one! Both were toppled with soft-serve ice cream! Shalni stuck with the ice cream.

Shalni and Arceli are happy at Happy Days Diner in Shepherd, Texas.

Shalni and Arceli are happy at Happy Days Diner in Shepherd, Texas.

 

Another full day of shopping, fun, food and friendship! Now, we’re thinking about where to go next. Shalni wants to take us for more Indian food in Houston – shopping, too, of course!

 

Can’t wait!

Must be Heaven – Brenham, TX!

Must Be Heaven is good for the appetite and good for the soul.

Must Be Heaven is good for the appetite and good for the soul.


The best things about driving US 290 between Houston and Austin, are the quaint little towns along the away.
We almost always make a stop at the Chappell Hill Bakery & Deli, in Chappell Hill, where we have found some of the best BBQ lunch options in the state. And we never leave without our sausage kolaches, fruit kolaches and/or sticky buns!!! Sometimes we even get a pie!
On a recent road trip traveling US 290, we discovered Must Be Heaven, a charming, down-home Texas sandwich and ice cream shoppe in Brenham. Here we experienced the good ol’ days of handcrafted sandwiches, homemade soups and pies and, of course, Bluebell Ice Cream.
The café is full of memorabilia from the past. I found a pleasant surprise in the lady’s room — a small collection of vintage hats. It just made me smile!
The Must Be Heaven café is located at 107 W. Alamo Street in downtown Brenham in a charming area of gift shops and antique stores. Its charm and warmth are calling me back!
As a native of West Virginia (which everyone knows is “Almost Heaven”) and as a Texas transplant, I truly appreciate the rustic and vintage setting at Must Be Heaven.
It seems I have discovered a hidden gem, and I’m collecting as many as I can find!
So if you find yourself driving along on US 290 between Houston and Austin, remember to look for “hidden gems” along the way.
Until next time…
Vintage hats - hidden away in the lady's room

Vintage hats – hidden away in the ladies room


W. Alamo Street in Brenham, TX

W. Alamo Street in Brenham, TX

How many miles from Texas to Singapore?

We set sail on The Mariner of the Seas on April 21 on a 41-day journey to the other side of the world — From Galveston, Texas, to Singapore!
In my blog, I’ve tried to give an up-close and personal experience for my readers — taking them along for the ride to 10 countries and 13 ports of call.
I hope that each description of our excursions helped to make the journey real for my readers.
This cruise consisted of three, two-week cruises…each one spectacular in its own way.
It was amazing how the miles seemed to go by so quickly, even though the average speed of the ship was about 18-20 knots.
We were amazed as we checked on the ship’s TV channel daily to see the speed, sea depth, and total distance from the last port.
The first leg of the cruise was from Galveston to Barcelona, which totaled 5,456 nautical miles. From Barcelona to Dubai, we covered another 5,048 miles. On the third and final two-week cruise from Dubai to Singapore, which ended on June 1, a total of 3,693 nautical miles were logged.
Drum roll please! Our 41-day cruise from Galveston to Singapore equaled a combined total mileage for the entire journey of: 14,197 nautical miles!!!
At around 1:00 a.m. on June 2, we boarded Emirates Air for our flight back. It took seven hours to fly from Singapore to Dubai, with about 4-4.5 hour layover in Dubai. We left Dubai on an 18-hour flight straight to Houston, for a total return trip time of 29 hours!
This would explain why my internal clock is still mixed up, and why I’m dreaming about far away, exotic lands.
Until next time…
(Look for a link to Trilla’s Travels at http://www.ourtribune.com)

Docked in Singapore, here is my last glimpse of the Mariner -- I'm going to miss her!

Docked in Singapore, here is my last glimpse of the Mariner — I’m going to miss her!


We were surprised to see our flight path back to Houston!

We were surprised to see our flight path back to Houston from Singapore, via Dubai!

Sailing, Sailing over the ocean blue…

This is the tune I’ve been busily humming to myself the past few days!

The excitement level around here is sky-high and climbing. It will culminate on Sunday, when we are actually on the shuttle bus that will drop us at the Port of Galveston, where we will board The Mariner of the Seas!

Kudos to Kingwood Travel for arranging transportation to Galveston for approximately 30 travelers from my area that are embarking on this 41-day cruise to Singapore. Parking our car near the port for six weeks would not be an acceptable option

Not only is Kingwood Travel arranging our shuttle, they have also planned a Bon Voyage cocktail party for our group on board The Mariner of the Seas at 4:30 Sunday evening. Then we will truly know that this unbelievable journey of a lifetime is actually happening!

Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines allows us to bring two bottles of wine per stateroom, per each leg of the cruise – or six bottles for the bon voyage celebrations! We’ve chosen a couple of bottles of celebratory wine — bringing just a little bit of southern comfort from Texas with us.

A favorite Texas wine!

A favorite Texas wine!

Every day this week was spent either sorting and packing or shopping for the last minute have-to-haves. I’m certain we don’t need half of what we’re taking.

Another chunk of time was spent with AT&T customer service sorting out what we need for calls and texting on the other side of the world! Jodi did a good job helping us out. Let’s just hope we made the right choices!

Did I mention that we are excited? Our son and his family live nearby and will drive us to our shuttle bus. They will have fun using the pool and looking after our place while we’re gone. They have promised not to throw too many parties!

We’re looking forward to chatting with our family members via Skype from exotic ports of call such as Medeira, Portugal, Barcelona, Alexandria, Egypt, Dubai and Singapore to name a few.

I’m also excited that my newspaper publisher has linked my blog to http://www.ourtribune.com!

Just two nights and one day left!

 

One week to sail date!

Exactly one week from today, The Mariner of the Seas will embark on a 41-day repositioning journey from Galveston to Singapore. That leaves only six more days to finish packing and set our sights on the horizon.
As luck would have it, the Lyrid meteor showers will peak during the first and second nights on the ocean, and I’m really looking forward to that experience – far away from the lights of the coast. The Lyrid meteor showers come along this time every year, and it just so happens to coincide with the kickoff of this cruise. We lucked out!
With the countdown to the voyage speeding by, it seemed like a really good time to soak up as much Texas as possible today, while on a day trip to visit with family.
The first thing we did was chose a place to enjoy some real Texas BBQ. We chose the Chappell Hill Bakery and Cafe, where it doesn’t get any better. This eatery was recently mentioned in Southern Living magazine. We sampled all the BBQ meats on the menu, including brisket, ribs, sausage and chicken, which were all very delicioso. The sides were very yummy, also! Then, of course, we had to sample a piece of pie and take home some Kolaches! They are famous for pies and fruit and sausage Kolaches.
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http://www.chappellhillbakeryanddeli.com/ordereze/default.aspx

Another “pure Texas” experience presented itself as we made our way back home. Just east of Chappell Hill, hundreds of Bluebonnet lovers had pulled over to take advantage of this perfect Sunday afternoon to snap their yearly “Bluebonnet Pics.” Non-Texans may not know about this very traditional spring activity in Texas. The larger Bluebonnet fields were so crowded that we decided to make do with a small patch beside the road…it was better than nothing!

Now back to my packing list…and dreaming about a Royal Caribbean cruise that will take me and my fellow travelers on this exciting adventure, thanks to our friends at http://www.kingwoodtravel.com. Next Sunday we leave the Port of Galveston and will dock in Nassau a few days later. After that, we sail across the Atlantic and on to the Mediterranean, finally ending up in Singapore after a total of 41 days. Pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming!

http://www.ourtribune.com/section.php?c=3&sc=117

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