Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Travel Photo Gear on a Cruise

We are always trying to maximize our cruise adventure and minimize our travel packing. Who wants to haul and organize tons of clothes and gear on a cruise? A lot of people do! I see huge bags galore and cringe at the sight of them. We constantly review what we carry and try to streamline our "stuff." I still have a little work to do on the clothing and shoe inventory. Avril's shoe fascination has rubbed off on me, although on this trip I only carried two pairs and wore one.  I believe I have the camera gear thing honed.  All my gear is pictured here except my laptop and charging cords. It fits into my duffle bag that I strap to the top of my small rolling bag.
My Cruise Photo Gear
I could probably leave behind the DSLR but it is still my pet. Always have a camera ready because there are many beautiful photo opportunities on a cruise ship.

Next up we arrive in Cabo!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Tapas Lifestyle Star Princess

I have a struggle every time I return from a cruise. I am so excited about our travels that  I want to shout out to the world what fun we had. On the other hand I try to temper my enthusiasm so as not to be repetitive and boring. We have been blessed to be able to take a number of cruises and sometimes they blur into memory. We last cruised on the Grand Princess and now on the Star Princess. The ships layout is almost identical so it was easy to maneuver our way around. I wrote about "food 101" before and most everything applied on this trip. The biggest difference, food wise,  was the absence of Alfredo's Pizza. You can still get wonderful pizza on Lido deck but in the place of Alfredo's there is Vine's. I was initially sad about this but Vines turned out to be our go to place for the evenings. They have a large list of wines by the glass and with your wine you can have tapas or sushi. The selection of food changes often, so no boredom here. The Vines bar is staffed by the team of Valeriya and Chris who make you feel like you are family. We chose the late dinner time and Vine's filled the gap between lunch and dinner. We noticed there was a number of couples who were regulars each night. I dubbed this fun as "the tapas lifestyle."

 Back at home I have tried to recreate the tapas lifestyle on Friday nights with little savory bites, bubbly for Avril and sauvignon blanc for me. Bringing home memories of fun we had on our cruise.
Vines - Star Princess
I can't help but to put our first night's dinner on display. Our choice of late seating dinner meant no available sunlight but with my trusty Lumix travel camera I was able to come up some good photos with the indoor light.
First night dinner - Star Princess Mexico Cruise

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Cruising on the Star Princess

Princess Cruises new marketing slogan promises you will "come back new." I most certainly returned with renewed enthusiasm for cruising  and  a fond memory of ten days enjoying great food, service and fun. New is good! If only they could make me come back younger!

On this cruise we visited four ports in Mexico:  Puerto Vallarta, Loreto, La Paz and Cabo San Lucas.

It has been over a year since we cruised and two years since we visited Mexico. This journey started in San Francisco at Pier 27, a brand spanking new cruise terminal. We boarded quickly with very little wait in line.  Princess has been kind enough to port a ship in San Francisco year round, which makes for easy access for us. The current ship here is the Star Princess, which replaced  the Grand Princess that we sailed on last year. Depending on the  time of year it cruises to Mexico, Alaska or Hawaii.

We booked our cruise a year ago with an interior cabin,  but we were "upgraded" to an ocean-view room about six months ago. Our cabin was located on Plaza deck five, behind the art gallery and steps from the International Cafe,  serving food 24 hours a day. We are early risers and made a habit of having "breakfast #1" here, usually a pastry or a breakfast sandwich with a coffee drink. At six in the morning the place is empty and we got to enjoy the ambiance by ourselves while we caffeinated. This left us awake and ready for exercise. Avril attended the free Zumba class while I enjoyed a brisk walk on Promenade deck 7.
 More soon.
Breakfast -International Cafe Star Princess

Friday, November 28, 2014


To me the best part of Thanksgiving is the leftovers next day. This year we cooked chicken instead of turkey. Chicken is my preference for the shorter cooking time and, in my opinion, tenderness. In my leftover creation we used mayo, stuffing, chicken and cranberry. A puddle of gravy for dipping takes the sandwich to epic heights. Happy-happy!
Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

You Had Me at Bacon

Today I was inspired by Jamie Oliver and  made a bacon sarnie, also know as a bacon butty. My take on the recipe is pretty simple, crisp cooked Boar's Head bacon and buttered rustic sourdough. You could add some ketchup but why? Easy peasy!
Bacon Sarnie

Monday, November 10, 2014

Behind the Wall

Reliving our trip to Portland while curating my photo collection. We stayed in the Pearl District of Portland which was once quite industrial. Our hotel room, at the Marriott Residence Inn Pearl District,  had its own kitchen. This is a  great neighborhood for gourmet foods and wines. It was also near some great happy hour places with cheap drinks and food. I was nice to live without a car and have all the amenities nearby. The hotel was just five minute walk from the train station, so no need for even a cab. Public transportation rocks in Portland! When we ventured downtown it was short wait for for inexpensive streetcar ride. Just a few blocks away from the hotel was this great wall from an original building that had been saved and was beautiful with the patina of age.
Importantly for us food obsessed the building behind the wall houses a number of food businesses. Our favorite is Hot Lips Pizza. We arrived at lunch and salivated over the selection goodies. You must try the Waldorf pizza with walnuts, apple and blue cheese a killer combo. They also deliver to the hotel. Good times!
Hot Lips Pizza - Portland Pearl District

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Fog Cutter

The fog had just lifted literally  and figuratively as I sipped my coffee. The table decoration at the cafe was a ray of sunshine on its own.