Archive for April, 2012

April 24, 2012

Azamara Journey Cruise

I just returned from a wonderful Seminar at Sea aboard the Azamara Journey. We sailed from San Juan to New York. It was a unique itinerary which blended beautiful beach ports with the sophistication of Bermuda and the magic that is New York City!

We had overnights in St. Thomas….very walkable touristy downtown right from the dock and of course many beach activities to enjoy around the island.

We hiked, kayaked and snorkeled (and saw sea turtles!) in St. John which is still low key and has lovely beaches. The ‘White Night’ Dinner on deck while moored in front of St. John’s was outstanding in every way….from the awesome staging of the pooldeck to look like a taverna, to the festive and well thought out menu, the enthusiastic staff, and the music.
The view of the island lights ashore and the warm Caribbean evening kept you on deck to enjoy the full evening.

Virgin Gorda was just one lush and gorgeous scene after the next. Beautiful serene bays dotted with dozens of sailboats.

Bermuda – As quaint and charming as anticipated! We cycled through picturesque neighborhoods with the sea always in view, and boated into pristine coves. Bermuda is 21 miles long and just about a mile wide so it is easy to access. Hamilton, the busniess hub, also has unique shops and restaurants. Stunning homes front the endless shorelines. All have white roofs to accomodate their own water collection systems, as water is a limited resource on Bermuda. The houses are all painted in a wide variety of pastel and vibrant colors! We were there Easter weekend, and took in the annual Passion re-enactment in the town of St. Georges. The cast consisted of at least fifty locals in costume from the five village churches. The procession was accompanied by the Salvation Army band, along with vocalists from the local choirs. The event lasted for two hours and traveled through the town…making stops staged at each churchyard.

Then – New York City. Sailing into the harbor past the Statue of Liberty on a clear sunny morning was the highlight. We sailed right up to our berth at Pier 88 in the heart of the city!
Azamara The Journey carries about 650 guests, it has an intimate feel and a “country club casual” atmosphere on board. Many lovely dining options, quality entertainment, gym, spa, pool, lovely deck space. All staff, including officers are friendly and ready to engage on any subject. Azamara prides itself on prime docking space in ports of call. In Hamilton, Bermuda we were right in the heart of town…it could not have been more central. And it was also impressive to witness the skills of the captain and crew manipulating the ship in and out of dock.


We cycled on the World’s Smallest Drawbridge (Bermuda)

April 19, 2012

Caffe Bars in Italy

At most coffee bars, first you go to the cashier and pay for what you’ll order. The cashier gives you the bill which you present to the barista at the bar counter as you order. An efficient system for busy bars where many people come and go within minutes.

Most bars are so small so you stand at the counter as you drink your coffee and eat your croissant. In larger bars, especially those in major tourist areas and famous piazzas like Piazza San Marco in Venice, if you sit down at a table where a waiter serves you, you’ll pay at least double the price of the stand-up coffee. If you plan to linger over your cappuccino to admire the architecture and views and enjoy the friend you’re with, sit down, stay for awhile and soak up some “dolce vita”.

Some Italian coffee lingo:
1.If you order “coffee” or “caffe”, you’ll get espresso. For a weaker coffee, order “caffe Americano” or a “caffe lungo”—a long coffee.
2.If you order a “latte” like you might at Starbucks, you’ll get what you asked for—“latte” or milk. The barista will ask you if you want it hot or cold. Order “caffe latte.”
3.“Caffe macchiata” is espresso with a drop of milk in it.
4.A “caffe latte” has more milk and less foam than a “cappuccino”.
Local bars in Italy are where the regulars grab their quick expresso in the morning and later drop back in for a quick drink and conversation with the other regulars…really a gathering place for the neighborhood. In the morning, you will find a selection of pastries to accompany your coffee and in the afternoon a variety of freshly made panini (sandwiches). Soda, wine, and liquor are also to be had.
(from Mamma Margaret & friends)

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