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.

06/5/13
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Rome Food Tour

At 6:40 am on June 5, 2013, there was a loud knock on the door.  We assumed it was room service.  Another knock was heard, louder this time.

It turned out to be two Security guards and Terry Gattis.  They informed Ivan that he had to leave the Norwegian Epic cruise ship by 7:30 am by order of the Capitan.  Ivan asked why… but was just told to pack his stuff and get out by 7:30am. Nothing in writing..nothing from the captain..nothing official whatsoever.

We had to leave early anyway as we had a food tour book in Rome, so were planning to be off the boat by 7.30am anyway regardless of the fact that we were being kicked off the boat.

We were actually ready to leave by 7:15 pm, but then they started saying that we COUDLN’T leave as officials had to come. They blocked us in the room and kept Ivan prisoner there.

I went to tell Denise and Ken that we would meet them at the train station and there was trouble, but I didn’t go into detail.

Finally, left at 7:45 am.  We didn’t get anything in writing.  I bet they’ll claim that we voluntarily left the boat and there’s no record of it.  They also didn’t help us with flights which they said they would.

We got a shuttle to Civitavecchia and walked to the train station.  We missed our food tour because of the stupid commotion and ended taking the later train.

We got a hotel room near the train station at Hotel Hollywood.  They were very friendly to us.

Thankfully, Ivan rescheduled our food tour for later today.  We went to the Vatican to meet up with Ivan’s family and D.

St. Peter's Square

We walked around the Vatican in St. Peter’s Square.  I sent a postcard from the Vatican to my sister-in-law.

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I took pictures while Ivan tried looking for Denise, Ken, Neal and D.  He called them and they were waiting across the street.

Everybody popped into a souvenir shop that has a toilet and lots of Catholic related souvenirs.  I bought a few things for my family.

We said good-bye since they walked around Rome for hours and wanted to get back to the cruise ship.

Ivan thought it was a good idea to stop for an espresso since we were going on a food tour later.  The café we stopped in had cool décor.

Cool decor in the cafe

It also sold lots of books and old pictures.

Ivan and I stopped at a bar to have a glass of limonchello.  It’s fun to walk around the streets of Rome and find a nice place to have a drink or something to eat.

We walked to Piazza Farnese to meet up with our guide for the Rome Food Walking Tour which took us through Trastevere, Campo di Fiori and the Jewish Ghetto  Her name was Francesca.  The group consisted of just me and Ivan.

One of our first stops was at Ruggeri Delicatessen which is an old grocery store in Campo di Fiori.

Me with salami

I got to try the salami and we both tasted the bufala mozzarella and pecorino romano.  The mozzarella is so fresh.  It’s not refrigerated  and should be use within two days.

Our next stop was at a Forno which is a bakery.

Lots of things to try at the Forno

We tried the pizza bianca which is really popular.. which we’re not really sure why since it’s only bread with olive oil on it.  We found it really boring.  Ivan and I also tried bread with tomato on it.  I tried bread with mortadella which is ham that’s flavored with spices.  The mortadella was mild and tasted good.

Walked through the Jewish Ghetto which is now a luxurious place to live.

Fontana delle Tartarughe

It’s always sad to hear the stories about the Jews that were taken away because of the Nazis during World War II.  There are plaques in the road in front of the houses that states what happened to the people who lived there.

We stopped at a little unassuming restaurant for supplì and fried cod.

A tasty supplì

Supplì sounds like it would be soup but it’s actually a fried rice ball with tomato sauce.  Both tasted great.

Francesca was full of knowledge about food and the history of Rome.

A street in Trastevere

Our last neighborhood was Trastevere.  I love this part of Rome since it’s a beautiful area with lots of greenery.

Our second to last stop was Sette Oche in Altalena Reclamavano la Cena – whew! that’s a mouthful.  Ivan and I each got a bowl of Cacio e Pepe pasta.  It’s a dish with lots of Pecorino and pepper.

Me with tasty cacio e pepe pasta

It’s one of my favorite pastas in Italy.  Ivan and I enjoyed our pasta with a lovely glass of red.

It was off to a gelato shop called Fior di Luna.  Our guide told us that we could pick 2 or 3 flavors.  Ivan tried strawberry and chocolate while I got banana and dark chocolate.

Ivan with his gelato

The banana was so good – it tasted like I was eating a banana.  Yummy!  It was a sweet way to end this great tour.  I recommend this tour if you want to try lots of great Italian food.

We were so tired and stuffed, so we headed back to the hotel.

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