Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ferry of Death

 Having visited Chichen Itza  at the previous port of call my owner continued on the "march of the history nerds" (as a fellow traveler called it) by signing up for the excursion to Tulum.  Cozumel is an island so it's necessary to travel to the mainland via ferry, a ride that takes about 45 minutes.
Okay 45 minutes, a cast iron stomach, and the ability to keep at bay in one's mind every headline you've ever seen about how many people die when a ferry capsizes.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the water was a magical azure blue. MO found her group, had a sticker stuck on her (the "tourists are like kindergarteners" theme continued), boarded the ferry, and found a place to sit. She had made a narrow escape of being stuck with the single  friend of a couple she'd met at breakfast, as a companion for the day. After a couple of minutes of hearing about the woman's cat (Why do single fifty-something women never figure out the cat thing?) MO opted for a change of seating due to "the sun."

She ended up next to an amusing couple from Georgia, a high school principal and his highly entertaining wife who had led an interesting life growing up in the Virgin Islands without shoes. They both had something MO highly values in others...a snarky sense of humor. Does she detect sarcasm? You can be friends!

The ferry pulled away from the dock and the color of the water was intoxicating. It passed the ship and headed toward the mainland. It began to rock a bit. My Owner hardly noticed, so engaged was she in conversation with her new seatmates. It tilted a bit to one side...then to the other.  Again...people began screaming and upon the next heave a word came into MO's mind.


As in a ship, to one side. 

She was enthralled by the conversation however, and continued laughing as the ferry rocked back and forth violently. From the corner of her eye she noticed the crew had wedged themselves in various corners and were holding on tightly. Their expressions were resolute but without worry. MO held on too but managed to keep up her end of the conversation over the sound of people screaming and children crying. Then, the first person threw up.

A view that is alternately ALL sky, then ALL water, while waves crash over the TOP of a 3 story structure has that effect on some people. Fortunately MO does not get seasick, and so she continued to crack jokes and make discoveries about her new friends while her hands turned white from holding on and she put the thoughts of sudden and certain death out of her mind, though another word popped into it...


Now two lines of thought were going on simultaneously in MO's mind.

1.) The chatty bit of small talk she was engaged in with this woman about her childhood.

2.) Calculated risk... this ferry is safe or they wouldn't be using it for tourists (I'm going to die in a third world country). The crew doesn't look concerned (they've resigned themselves to an early death). I feel so sorry for those who are sick (the smell of vomit..ignore it...ignore it...).

MO's theory of how to deal with this situation is one she uses often in life which is, trying to keep your bearings and trying to behave in a highly unusual situation as you do in others isn't very beneficial. Sometimes when you don't have control you just have to go with it. (Hey, I never said she was deep.)

Finally the rocking calmed, land was in sight. MO loosened her grip on the backs of the seat in front of her and the one she was sitting on (she had braced herself this way to move along with the ship instead of fighting it). Her hands ached. The ferry pulled up to the pier and everyone stepped off, some laughing, some not so perky, but all relieved.

As MO stood on the motionless dock, she felt sick.


The ferry docks at the beautiful resort town of Playa del Carmen which is quite beautiful and she thought she might like to return there sometime. They met their tour guide for the day and boarded a bus for the lengthy ride to Tulum as MO remembered the Dramamine she had hidden in her bag.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chichen Itza

Seeing the ruins at Chichen Itza was high on My Owner's list of priorities during the Christmas cruise she and her family took last year.  No one was interested in joining her so she set out for the day on her own.

The people who run these shore excursions must have had lots of experience and they weren't taking any chances.
The very first thing that happened was that a wrist band with the name of the tour was attached to them. The number of the bus they were going to be on was said numerous times, and they were told to "form a line of twos" MO realized something she had never quite noticed before; the world is designed in many ways for couples.  She paired up with the one other single person in sight who couldn't wait to announce that she was a lesbian.

"But I'm in a relationship".

"Oh" said MO, "me too".  She contemplated further explanation but thought better of it.

She ended up sitting next to her new friend on the two hour bus ride to the ruins and discussing the book MO was reading, A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain which the young woman had recently finished.

Every now and then the bus passed men in military style uniforms with machine guns, sometimes tanks, and once burning the contents of a young man's car on the side of the road.

Secretly this thrilled MO because she loves a bit of adventure and she knew it would make a good story.

"We have very little crime in this area" the guide announced.


One thing you realize after a good bit of travel in the world is that around every monument, ruin, or wonder of nature likely to attract tourism, small, well run towns spring up and Chichen Itza is no exception. This is what greeted them at the entrance. It made MO laugh.

                       Click here to read more on Chichen Itza.

Here are some more of My Owner's pictures from her visit.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eating and Drinking Savannah Style

My owner is always fond of experiencing fine food and drink especially when traveling. Savannah did not disappoint. Staying with the Food Maven meant wonderful food would be shared and enjoyed and yes, read about. Just about the time MO was falling asleep one night in came her hostess with a book and instructions to "Read this in the morning, you'll like it."     Early the next day My Owner did as she was told, pulled out the assigned reading material and her reading glasses and was promptly distracted by the color coordination of the book, glasses, and comforter. She reached for the camera to document this little random piece of eye candy (and she wonders why no one reads her blog).

The book was excellent and full of good advice about how and what to eat, a subject that always is of interest to her.
Which brings us to the restaurants and food of Savannah.

Vinnie Van GoGo's is an amazing pizza place where one slice is more than enough to fill you up. The atmosphere is super casual. 

MO had the tomato and spinach which she deemed "fabulous" because of course she loves to make use of an extensive vocabulary when describing food.

What better to follow pizza than champagne and chocolate? So it was off to LuLu's Chocolate Bar for champagne cocktails, served up with chocolate cookies with a chili pepper kick.

 Flourless chocolate cake drizzled with raspberry.

There really




Espresso chocolate creme brulee served up with a beautiful orchid garnish (which is edible, by the way).

Champagne and chocolate...genius.

A girls' afternoon out included some shopping but not before stopping for a superb lunch at Soho South Cafe.
A charming tea room and antique store complete with original art for sale. Mo snapped this picture of the sign and iconic moss covered oaks before they went in.

MO and Food Maven's daughter split the ham & brie with granny smith apples and ...

the Greek salad.

Fresh. Delicious.

This photo was snapped AFTER lunch and a couple of mimosas.
MO abides by the strict rule of never declining champagne if it's offered.

The result is what we have here.

I know what you are asking yourself. "Didn't they visit the culinary darling of Savannah, Paula Deen's restaurant?


MO is not fond of southern style home cooking (desserts excluded), so it wasn't a must see for her. But she did snap a pic anyway as they drove by.

Speaking of desserts, friends don't let friends leave Savannah without a stop to the Back In the Day Bakery. 

Coffee and a Miss Hannah which consists of butter cream frosting sandwiched between two lavender shortbread cookies. 

The bakery is infused not only with the most heavenly aromas but also with a nostalgic charm that is comforting in today's fast paced world that can, if only for a few moments, take you back to a simpler time. 

However for all the great food devoured in this beautiful coastal Georgia city, one of the best things she ate all week was a chicken salad with roasted potatoes thrown together by her friend and eaten at the kitchen table with a family she loves.

                  What is EVER more delicious than that?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chickamauga Georgia in December

Time warp gas station in TN
My owner tossed me in the backseat of the car and headed off to Chattanooga for her husband's book signing and to meet friends with whom she would ride home to spend the week in Savannah. A visit to the small town of Chickamauga (the actual destination) always requires a visit to the local hat shop, Peaches Fine Millinery and shopping in several antique stores and gift shops.
They can spend hours here...

This year there was a new bakery called Chocolate Therapy where MO was tempted (and gave in straight away) by her all     time favorite dessert...coconut cake. A Southern staple, yet one that she has never allowed herself to make at home, remembering what a mistake it was to go to the New Orleans School of Cooking and learn to make pralines. "It is closely akin to knowing how to make crack at home" she said.

After spending a long time in the hat store chatting with Carol, the owner, they made their purchases. Carol even gave them a 10% discount "because y'all are so fun!"

Sure Carol...that's what they need...encouragement.

Later when they spotted Santa on the street corner they had Mr. MO pull over, pop the trunk, they put on their hats and (poor Kris Kringle) proceeded to entice him into a photo session which involved lots of "let me see it" and "take another".

After two fun days and nights it was time to say goodbye to Mr. Owner who was headed home to spend the week alone (which between you and me, he probably enjoyed) while MO and her friend traveled home to Savannah chatting nonstop and making plans for the week. The main plan plan.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Autumn Weekend in New Orleans

My owner and her husband love to take friends who have never been to the Big Easy with them on The City of New Orleans, a train route made immortal in Arlo Guthrie's song, and act as tour guides for their favorite city. New Orleans is all about the food. MO likes to joke when people ask "What do you do in NOLA?" that they "Sit around at breakfast and talk about where to have lunch and sit around at lunch and talk about where to have dinner." Fortunately there are miles and miles of walking to be done while seeing the city  and shopping so it sort of works itself out.

They caught the train early in the 
morning and had breakfast in the dining car. The French toast is always good, and they had fun teasing the woman who was serving them. People who enjoy their jobs make such a difference, don't they? Now MO had been battling a dreadful cold and wasn't feeling all that well. They arrived at the train station, much later than usual due to a freight train that had gone off the track and blocked their way through Mississippi.  They caught a cab to the hotel changed and began walking to dinner at Jimmy Buffet's Margarita-ville. MO was feeling worse by the minute. Very quiet. A sure sign something is not right to Mr. MO. She was sick and hungry and feeling depleted in every way.

Dinner was delicious and food was just what she needed to rally for the walk back to the hotel. A handful of vitamins and cold medicine combined with a good night's sleep was just what she needed to feel much better the next day.

Breakfast at the hotel included one of those nifty "make your own" waffle set ups with a twist.
 A Fleur de lis impression excited My Owner to no end. (She is easily "impressed.") Mr. MO had decided that one of the things they were going to do this day was go to the WWII Museum (formerly the D Day Museum) and he was keen that they see the movie. He had seen it on his last trip and thought it was great. MO was skeptical. Who can blame her? Have you ever seen a movie at a museum? They tend to be low budget, government produced, borefests and MO was sure that their travel companions would rather be walking the city and taking in the sights. Mr. MO persuaded her however with the promise of a visit to the museum bar, The Stage Door Canteen. The fact that there was a BAR in the museum (When was the last time you heard of THAT?) made her think it might not be so bad.

Here is My Owner goofing around inside a German air raid shelter. 
They arrived at the museum and the women checked out the gift shop (I told you, remember?) the men listened intently to the volunteer WWII vets who were all too happy to share their harrowing stories of war and answer questions. Then it was off to the bar.

Mr. MO having a little vintage fun at the museum.
 Okay, it was really cool. MO had a Scarlett O'Hara (a peach flavored [what else?] martini) and couldn't resist taking a picture of the menu to send to her blog partner, The Professor to let him know they had a drink by that name on the menu. Then it was off to the movie.

My Owner is more than happy to admit when she's wrong which is what she had to do. The movie was incredible! Perhaps Mr. MO should have mentioned beforehand that Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks had produced it! If you get a chance to visit the museum, don't miss it.

The rest of the day was spent walking, shopping, and of course eating.  Here are the pictures:

You can't visit the French Quarter and not stop at Lafitte's Blackmith Shop, one of those buildings that make you think "if these walls could talk"...

The next day included a trip to Cafe du Monde, a must stop for first time visitors, but after that any of the other little coffee shops around town are just as good and all serve the signature beignets.

My Owner's favorite thing to do in this unique city however is just people watch. She can take up residence on a park bench and do this for hours...

Though Mr. and Mrs. Owner have been making this trip for over 25 years, they have never gotten a sleeper for the return trip, which is very boring after dark which comes early this time of year. They will not be making that mistake any more.

If there is one thing My Owner loves it's her privacy and peace and quiet. She fell in love with the fact that her return accommodations on this trip had...wonder of wonders...A DOOR! Dinner is included in the price of the sleeper so it doesn't turn out to any more expensive than coach. And the dinner was surprisingly good. Live and learn. My owner suspects this is what it's all about.

Happy travels!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...