07/3/13
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Off on a Cruise

Ivan and I woke up at 9 am on July 3, 2013.  We gathered up our luggage.

It was an overcast day.  We left Sussex at 10 am.  Ivan recognized the area of Gants Hill since his grandparents lived there.  Ivan said we just had to stop at Shalom Hot Bagels for a Jewish bagel.

We parked right in front of the bagel shop and picked up a bagel to share and a few fish balls.  The bagel was a lot more dense and tasted fantastic.  The fish balls were good.

It was a short drive away to Romford where we were picking up our Australian friends Tim & Gabbie.  We arrived at 11 am at Gabbie’s cousin’s apartment.

Tim and Gabbie said good-bye to Gabbie’s cousin and his wife and kid.  We were glad that Tim and Gabbie only had a small suitcase and two small backpacks since we had a a lot of big luggage already in the car.

It was great to see the Aussies again since we get along with both of them so well.  They’re super cool and so fun.  We spent a lot of time with them in Las Vegas.

Ivan drove us towards Dover, our trip took an hour.  We bought alcohol at a convenience store.  Ivan dropped us off and then dropped off the car at the car rental office.

We waited for him and then went upstairs at the cruise port to check in at 1:40 pm.  I’m glad there wasn’t a long line.  Check-in was relatively fast.  We each got a bottle of liquor each on the ship.  You could always try to sneak on more alcohol by checking your bags in.  Sometimes, the boats scan… but we’ve always gotten stuff on with no trouble.  Our group was on the Carnival Legend at 1:55 pm.

This cruise ship is a lot smaller than most cruise ships we’ve been on, but it’s going to Scandinavia and we love the cruise director, John Heald who’s so funny.  He’s the brand ambassador of Carnival – he basically is the face of Carnival.  His personal assistant Calvyn is hilarious.  Together they are such a comedy duo.  We’ve done a few Carnival cruises with both of them before.

Atrium on the Carnival Legend

We love walking in to the grand Atrium which was dark brown and gold which reminded me of the Louis Vuitton bags.  Norwegian doesn’t have an Atrium on their cruise ships.  I just think all cruise ships should have an Atrium.  It’s just a great central place to meet, hear music or have a drink.  I really like seeing the elevators going up from the Atrium.

The rooms were ready, so we checked out Tim and Gabbie’s interior room.  Then, Ivan and I put our backpacks in our room.  We got a room with a balcony.  I love being able to see the ocean right from bed.  Also, it’s great to have breakfast on the balcony.

It was time for lunch – so we went up to the buffet in the Unicorn Cafe.  We had some great fish.  The apple crumble was really tasty for dessert.  The food in the buffet here in Carnival was better than the gourmet food on the Norwegian Epic.  That’s pretty sad.

Ivan took us on a tour around the ship.  I call it the ‘Ivan tour’ since it’s just following Ivan around the ship on the first day.  It’s really quiet everywhere, so it’s the best time to walk around and take pictures.  I’m used to really bright décor on the Carnival boats.

Follies Theatre on the Carnival Legend

The décor is bright in some areas, but it has a medieval theme.  I never thought of a medieval theme, but it’s different and looks great.

Lil Dave went to search the cruise ship for other monkeys to play with.

Ivan, Tim, Gabbie and I played a fun game of miniature golf.

Jen playing mini golf on the Carnival Legend

Tim ended up winning.

Ivan and I chilled in the room before going to the Mandatory Safety Briefing.  We heard the cruise director John on the intercom and he made funny comments.  It was good to hear his voice.  Being on a Carnival cruise ship on the first day feels like coming home to me.

Tim and Gabbie met us in our room.  We had champagne on the balcony for the sail away from Dover.

Ivan and Jen with their champagne

We gave Tim his birthday gift which was a fez and stick-on mustaches.

It was cool passing by the white cliffs of Dover.  Too bad that the weather was still overcast.  The pictures would have turned out a lot better with blue skies.

The White Cliffs of Dover

We chilled on the balcony for awhile and listened to music.  Ivan, Tim and Gabbie went to the Truffles Restaurant to change so that we would be on the same dining table for dinner.

Ivan and I started getting ready.  He left after his shower to play the Mind Game Trivia while I was still getting ready.

He didn’t win the trivia game.  I met him at 8 pm.

We went to our table which was #220.  There was a couple sitting there who were in their 40’s.  Tim and Gabbie joined us shortly.  We found out that the couple are from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with three kids.

I started with a linguini for a starter.  My main course was tilapia which was average.  It came with a tasty mac & cheese for a side dish.

Ivan and I got the famous chocolate melting cake to share for dessert.  It was so very tasty.

Tim and Gabi were pigs and got four desserts to share.

Tim & Gabi eating lots of desserts

Ivan, Tim and Gabbie and I headed to the theatre Follies.  We wanted to get a good seat for the Welcome Aboard Show.

I headed to the toilet.  Calvyn was doing Bingo and recognized Ivan.

The Welcome Aboard Show was really funny.  John, the cruise director, talked to Tim and Gabbie since they clapped when he asked where the honeymooners were and we were sitting in the front row.

Later, when they were picking six people to go on stage.. John said Come on, Blondie to Gabbie to head up to the stage.  Gabbie is really shy and doesn’t like being on stage.  I thought it was funny that she was picked.  I knew she didn’t want to go up at all.  I guess she felt she had to.

John can make any situation funny.  Some of the people were funny like the guy who has been married for 50 years.  To celebrate being married for 50 years, he and his wife got tattoos with their names on their upper arm.

John Heald and Gabi at the Welcome Aboard Show

Gabbie was really shy and you could tell, so John didn’t talk to her much.  All six people got a bottle of champagne and a gold ship on a stick (cruise ship trophy) for being on stage.

Ivan, Tim, Gabbie and I headed to Guest Services.  Ivan and Gabbie wrote letters to John.  Ivan told him about our wedding anniversary and Gabbie wrote about how they’re on a year long honeymoon.

Gabbie switched her champagne bottle for a cold one.  We headed to the room to drink champagne and talked for awhile before going to bed.

07/2/13

Blue Wembley

I woke up at 8 am on July 2, 2013 since I thought I heard a knock on the door.  But, I guess I was just worried that we would wake up late.  Ivan got up since he couldn’t go back to sleep.  I was supposed to wake up at 8:30 am, but I was tired from waking up earlier than planned and slept until 8:45 am.

Ivan and I had our breakfast which included the lovely trifle, apple juice, tea and poached eggs with smoked salmon. 

Ivan drove me to my hair appointment at Havens.  My blue and aqua highlights have been turning green and yellow, so I needed to fix it.  I don’t remember my hairdresser’s name, but she was a nice English girl with long blonde hair.  I spent hours getting blue highlights in my hair. 

Me with foils on at Havens

I was reading my magazine and thinking about life.  I also got a haircut since it’s been ages since my last haircut.  I always seem to forget my hair cut when I’m traveling.  My hair looked good, but not as obviously blue as before.. not as chunky, but it looked good.  It looked dark blue, but the girl said it would lighten up after washing it a few times.  I guess we’ll see about that.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to find a place for lunch.  Ivan thought The Opposition Bistro looked good.  The place next door looked good, but it was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Sat down in The Opposition Bistro which was looked great inside.  Lil Dave got a banana salad.  Ivan and I each got the set menu.  We both got a tomato and aubergine soup for our starters which turned out quite lovely. 

Salmon at The Opposition Bistro

The main course was salmon with asparagus, mashed potatoes and a pea sauce.  It was a wonderful meal.

I walked to the post office with Lil Dave.  Ivan went to 3 to get a USB internet stick.  I bought lots of stamps for all the postcards I was sending out.  We also seem to send out so many postcards at once.

I was waiting for Ivan to come back and was browsing the postcards.  The Stratford-upon-Avon postcards aren’t very good.  I’m surprised there’s not any pictures of the river and the swans on the river.  That’s very Stratford-upon-Avon to me. 

Ivan started driving us at 2 pm towards London.  Tonight, we’re going to be seeing Robbie Williams for the second time.  It’s awesome that our first night we got to see him and our last night of of our English road trip. 

It was another overcast day.  It started raining at 2:30 pm.  We arrived in Sussex at 3:30 pm. 

The Airbnb apartment was right near Wembley Stadium which was perfect since that’s where the concert is tonight.  Wembley is where Queen performed and where the original Live Aid was. 

We parked our car at the Airbnb apartment.  Too bad we couldn’t check in until 6 pm. We started walking towards Wembley Stadium.  It was really crowded. 

Ivan did his research online and found out that you could go in different gates that didn’t match your ticket.  One didn’t work, so we weren’t sure if it would work on a different one.  It started showering.  Ivan found one that actually worked and called me over since I was trying to hide under the roof. 

We got in without joining the long line at the gate that matched on our ticket thanks to Ivan’s smart thinking.  Thankfully, we got into the Golden Circle without a special ticket or people checking for wristbands. 

We got our two wristbands to re-enter later on.  Ivan and I sat down in two seats and played games on our phones.

At 6:30 pm, Ivan and I went to get dinner.  We had delicious peri-peri chicken which came on a skewer that was on top of a tortilla filled with rice and vegetables.  There was so much food in the tortilla that you couldn’t really make it into a taco that could be easily eaten.  I tried, but it started falling apart toward the end. 

We had more time to spare and sat playing our games and chatting while sitting down. 

Later, Olly Murs came on at 7:30 pm.  He was good, but I think he was sick since he couldn’t really hit the high notes.. also, he said that he was so tired. 

Robbie Williams Concert

We started walking up to the toilets when “Troublemaker” came on since it’s his last song.

It’s great that Wembley Stadium has lots of food stalls and toilets.  But, it’s always smart to go early for the ladies toilets.  I still don’t understand why it takes women so long to use the loo. 

Robbie Williams came on at 9 pm.  He once again made a grand entrance by ziplining down into the stadium.  This time the stadium was filled with 75,000 people.  He’s so popular in Europe with a backlog of wonderful songs.. so he can still fill up the stadiums for multiple nights in a city. 

Fire coming out of Robbie's head

It was another amazing concert, so glad that we got to see him twice.  Robbie walks around and definitely puts on quite a show.  He’s a cheeky, funny guy.  He sang lots songs like Millennium, Hot Fudge, Me and My Monkey and Come Undone.  Olly Murs came out and sang Kids with him.

Colorful graphics on Robbie's head

His encore was the same with Feel, She’s the One and Angels.  Robbie told us to think of any loved ones who have passed on before he sang Angels.  Everybody was singing along during Angels.  I was crying thinking about a few friends who have passed on.  Also, I think I was really enjoying the concert as well and it made me all emotional.  What a beautiful night of lovely entertainment by Mr. Williams.  If you ever get the opportunity to see Robbie Williams, I wouldn’t hesitate to go see him.

The Wembley arch looks pretty lit up at night.

Wembley Stadium arch at night

Ivan and I walked 5 minutes to get to the Airbnb apartment.  We talked with the girl there while her boyfriend wasn’t that chatty.  We talked about Las Vegas, the concert and London before going to bed.

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