Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mediterranean Cruise - Part 7 (Venice, Italy -- Again)

After departing the cruise ship, we discovered we were really exhausted and did not want to do much (we both have been to Venice before). We could not get an earlier flight back to Brussels, so we were stuck in Venice for the night! What a terrible situation to be in, right??!! I know, it sounds so cliche'. Forgive me, please!

The hotel told us that St. Mark's Square was flooded! Now, I have always heard Venice is sinking and that the high tides cause St. Mark's Square to flood, but I have never seen it for myself. So, as exhausted as we were, we had to get out, fight the crowds, and see this for ourselves.

We were staying across the canal from St. Mark's Square. This is a picture from the front of our hotel looking across to St. Mark's. As you can see, the water was about to start flooding this side of the island too! We got over to St. Mark's and this is what we found...definitely flooded. You could buy yourself some faux rain boots for 1 euro!
Or choose to walk on risers!
It was so interesting to see St. Mark's Square flooded. St. Mark's is one of my favorite cathedrals in Europe...and it was flooded. Yikes!St. Mark's in the background!

This was definitely a site to see and I am glad we fought the crowds to see it.

That concludes my Mediterranean Cruise postings! I hope you have all enjoyed this little adventure of mine and if you ever have the opportunity to go on a Mediterranean cruise, do it! You will never regret it!

Mediterranean Cruise - Part 6 (Corfu, Greece)

I am back to finish up the cruise postings! I cannot believe it has been over a month since we left on the cruise! I spent 3 weeks in Germany once I got back, so things were a little busy on this side of the pond!

Corfu, Greece was an unexpected treat for me. I had never heard of Corfu prior to planning this trip and did not do any research on what there was to see there, so everything was a surprise. The name Corfu is an Italian word, meaning city of the peaks. I believe this is a little secret place in Greece that not too many people know about and thus it is not flocked with tourists, like the more popular Greek islands. I could definitely see coming back here for a secluded and relaxed beach vacation!

To be honest, the pictures do not capture the beauty of the cliffs and water on the island. We took a bus tour and the weather was not cooperating so most of the pictures were taken from inside the bus.

This was a little stop we made where we could get off the bus and see the water! It was gorgeous! We even tip-toed in, but it was freezing!
Pam and I tip-toeing! We were laughing so hard (can you tell?!)!
The views were unbelievable from the top!
Still laughing!

This tree is supposed to be over 2000 years old! Wow!
Pontikonisi and Vlaheraina monastery viewed from the hilltops of Kanoni.
Rosa left us a little monkey on this night! This was my favorite little creature!
The following day was our last day on the ship and we were at sea all day (with no stopping at any ports). It was also Halloween!

Remember all of the little creatures Rosa left for us each night? Well, I went to the towel folding seminar to see how these were made! It was so neat and a little more complex than the napkins!! Below you will see a turtle, elephant, swan, dog, frog, and lobster!!
After dinner, we went to the finale show. We got there early to make sure we got a good seat. I was sitting on the aisle and Pam and I were chatting when this (pictured below) came up and about scared me out of my seat. He was squatting down beside me and when I turned my head, I let out a scream that I am not proud of! Everyone in the theater was watching this unfold as they were behind us. Obviously, Pam and I had no idea what was about to happen! Everyone started did I (after I caught my breath and made sure I did not pee on myself!)! So, of course, I had to get my picture made with my new friend!
The show was fantastic! This was the preview performance...really cool!
Then, there was this guy! Talk about some talent! Yes, he is balancing himself upside down on a wine bottle!
And on a brick...
This was our final little surprise from Rosa!
The following morning, Saturday, around 8:30AM, we departed the ship for the final time. Pam and I walked off the ship laughing about what an incredible trip and opportunity it was to go on this cruise. We made lots of unforgettable memories that we will have with us forever! I will honestly say, this was the best trip I have been on since my European Adventures began almost 2 years ago! I am so thankful and blessed to be able to live our these dreams!

Up next...our final night in Venice.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Daddy's Snow Ice Cream!

There is a tradition in my family---when it snows we make Daddy's Snow Ice Cream!

Have you heard of it before?

I thought everyone knew about snow ice cream, but apparently not! Last Sunday, I was invited over to Dan and Pam's to celebrate Maxie's birthday and it started snowing like crazy! We were so excited since we do not get much snow here in Brussels and it was really fun to watch (and play in too!).

We had dinner and started talking about how much fun the snow is. Then, I told them about what my Daddy and I do when it snows and they about fell off the couch laughing! They thought I was kidding about actually eating snow! I said, "Nope, it has not killed me in 34 years!".

That was it, I had to make them their very first batch of snow ice cream!

This is the first, and most important, ingredient----snow!
Gather up a bowl full of 'clean' snow. This can be challenging, but if you are creative, you can figure it out! I was excited because this was very fluffy snow versus the snow we get in Memphis which is sometimes very icy! (I was a little bit excited!!)
You also need milk, sugar, and vanilla (not pictured).
Start with some snow in a bowl and gradually add milk. Stir until it is all mixed together. Kinda slushy, but not too watery.
Then add sugar to taste.
Then add vanilla. We did not have vanilla extract, so we added vanilla bean (YUM)!And, there you have it----Daddy's Snow Ice Cream!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so thankful for such a blessed life filled with wonderful family and friends! I pray everyone has a wonderful day!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Maxie!

Today, Maxie turned 3 years old! And, because I am crazy about my little pup, it is "All About Maxie" today!

One of Maxie's favorite activities is going on a walk. She even knows the word "walk" and you better be to ready to go if you mention that word and she hears you. Otherwise, she will drive you crazy until you give in and take that walk!! Since it was freezing and snowing outside, a walk was not in the plan. However, we did do her 2nd favorite with her favorite toy!!
Dan and Pam invited us over for dinner to celebrate the big day (ok, not really, just an excuse to have Dan cook for us!). Anyway, like I said before, the weather was terrible (freezing outside and snowing). I was parked around the block, so I bundled Maxie up in her coat (she HATES it, by the way) because otherwise she would have gotten all wet.

See, I told you she hated it! But, she loved it while we were walking because it kept her warm and dry!
We made it to Dan and Pam's and started the little party (which, in all honesty, meant we put these party hats on the dogs, took 2 pictures and we were done! You can see why...they hated the party hats too!
Excuse the dirty faces...they get groomed next week!! :-)
Overall, it was a good 3rd birthday for my little Maxie! It started snowing hard enough that we made snow ice cream (that is another posting by itself) and so Maxie had a tiny little bit on her big day!

Happy Birthday, Maxie!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

'Tis the Season!

We interrupt this blog for a little holiday cheer!

It is that time of year again! I kept debating on decorating this weekend, but when I looked outside this afternoon and it was snowing, well, that was my answer! I pulled out the Christmas decorations and didn't stop until all 3 trees were finished!

Yes, I said 3 trees. Although I could totally have 3 regular size trees in my house, I only have 3 small trees that I decorate and put on my dining room table here in Brussels. I also put out my original nutcrackers I got in Germany last year! Decorating really got me into the holiday spirit!
Have you put your Christmas tree up yet?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mediterranean Cruise - Part 5 (Santorini, Greece)

I have wanted to go Greece, especially the island of Santorini, for so long! And, finally, I made it! The island is as beautiful as you have always heard!

We arrived in Santorini just in time to see the sun rise. Not a bad way to start the morning! Sun rising over Santorini... I love this shot... Ahh, here it is...Santorini! Glamorous Santorini, in the southern Aegean's Cyclades islands, curves round a giant lagoon, a caldera left by a volcanic eruption. The island's capital, Fira, clings to cliffs above, providing stunning views of the lagoon below.

The picture below is the Santorini caldera (A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption.) with Nea Kameni in the center. Santorini is essentially what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion, destroying the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island, and leading to the creation of the current geological caldera.

The volcano eventually erupted (in 1645 BC) sinking the center of the island, creating the Caldera and leaving the semi-circled shape of modern day Santorini.

The magnitude of this eruption was supposed to be so great, that it was held responsible for creating tidal waves, reaching as far as the island of Crete, 70 miles away, wiping out the Minoan civilization in its entirety. This has caused much speculation as to whether Santorini was in fact the mythological lost city of Atlantis.

The islands of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, both still volcanically active, appeared after continuous eruptions that started around 157 BC and continued right up until 1950.

This is the city of Fira on the island of Santorini. You can see that these homes, hotels, and businesses are built on the side of a huge cliff. I will explain further down how you get to the top! The winding road may give you a little hint!
The city of Fira. Houses built on the edge of the caldera. So, to get to the top you have a choice...either take a donkey, a cable car, or walk!! This option was not for me... We decided on the cable car! A much safer mode of transportation, at least in my mind, than that dang donkey! View from the top. The city of Fira. The island is really best seen in here ya go! We only spent a few hours on the island; however, I would have liked to have stayed longer. We shopped, walked around, and just absorbed what the city of Fira had to offer. I will say that it is very touristy which takes away from the attraction to me. Nonetheless, it was gorgeous! This is definitely a place I could come and relax in a nice pool hanging over the side of the cliff!!

It has been said that the sunsets in Santorini are the best in the world. I think you might agree. When the boat was leaving Santorini, I was inside the cabin and walked out just in time for this beautiful sunset. It took my breath away. All I could do was snap pictures (I took at last 50 in a matter of about 3 minutes.). For a split second the sky changed from the pink picture you see below to blue, like in the first picture. Seriously, it was a split second and this was the only shot I got of it. God has a way of showing us his beauty! And this is what Rosa left us...(it is a little dog!).
Up next...Corfu, Greece!