Sunday, July 13, 2014

Live from Germany!


DEUTSCHLAND IST DIE WELTERMEISTER!!!

It's been 24 years, but tonight Germany proved themselves the best team. I can't believe we are here in Stuttgart to experience it. It's already 3am, so this post will be short. However, I am savouring the moment. Unbelievable. Ich kann es night glauben - I can't believe we are actually here to see, experience, and join in with the celebration! This sort of excitement rarely happens in the US!

Obviously, I will write better and more detailed posts in the future. But for tonight, I will revel in the honking cars and shouting fans.

Remember to follow me on Instagram, twitter or Facebook for updates!

Gute nacht!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Ciao, Italia! Hallo, Deutschland!

Our time in Italy is at an end. We're off to Fiuminco airport and onward to Germany! It's been great fun - loads to write about later on proper blog posts. I probably won't be able to post as frequently in Germany as we won't have hotel WiFi to use. It's time for family, friends, and fußball!!!

If I am online it will be on social media, so see my previous blog post on where to follow me!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shameless Plugs

View from the Castel San Angelo

It's hard to blog while on the road, but so far I've been able to keep up with social media. To see some pictures, follow my traveling mishaps, help feed my growing fanatacism with Germany's National Football team, and read other random things that catch my fancy, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @thriftygypsy87 and on Facebook at The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Rome. We've seen a lot, but of course there are a lot of things we won't be able to squeeze in. Guess that means we'll have to return one day! Tonight we're off to the Trevi Fountain to toss in a coin and wish for a return visit.

Ciao!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Guest Post: A Honeymoon Cruise


Tulum, Mexico
(C) Sean R.
The following is a guest post by my friend Sean, as I am currently vacationing in Europe and posts by me will be few and far between until my return!  Enjoy!

***

Recently, my wife and I chose to go on a cruise vacation for our honeymoon.  I had been asked by a certain thrifty friend of mine to write down my experiences and reasons why cruising was the best value for us - so here goes!

Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas. Source.
We took a seven-night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas departing from New Orleans, Louisiana, and bound for Falmouth in Jamaica, George Town in the Grand Caymans, and Cozumel, Mexico, before returning back to New Orleans.

The Serenade of the Seas is a Radiance Class vessel that entered into service in 2003.  She is 90,090 Gross Tons, 962ft long, 106ft beam, 25ft draft, and a cruising speed 25 knot.  She has a passenger compliment of 2,112 persons with a crew compliment of 857.

She also boasted 3 hot tubs, 3 pools, 4 specialty restaurants, 2 main dining rooms, 16 bars, clubs and lounges, a rock wall, a putting course, spa, fitness center, and theatre.  Essentially, she’s a small city floating on the water!

But without further ado, here are my five reasons to go cruising!

1.  Destinations

Snorkeling in the Caribbean. Yes, that's my head!
(c) Sean R.
One of the biggest reasons to go cruising is the sheer plethora of destinations.  Want to go visit the glaciers of Alaska?  Go for it!  Want to take a transatlantic cruise and see the northern lights at sea?  Can do!  Want to tour the ports of Italy, Spain and France?  Why not?  Feel like seeing Greece, Turkey and Russia?  It can happen.  If you feel like touring Europe, go for a river cruise where you can see the culture and history (or wine if you want to cruise France) from a much smaller river boat.  Cruising does not have to be to the Caribbean; you can quite literally cruise anywhere.

We chose a classic cruise to destinations that neither of us had been to yet.  My wife has been on several cruises in the past, but it was my first.  We chose a cruise that meshes our love of history with our interest in the outdoors.  One of the benefits of cruising is the ability to go on excursions.  Excursions come at an additional price, but the experiences are vetted by the cruise line.  And if you are running late from finishing your excursion, the ship won't leave you behind!

In Jamaica we took a historic tour where we visited the oldest Anglican Church in Falmouth, toured the town of Ocho Rios, saw the bay where Christopher Columbus first landed in the new world, and ate some authentic jerk chicken.

Columbus Bay in Jamaica, (c) Sean R.
While in the Grand Caymans, we wanted to learn about the history of the island, but also wanted to go snorkeling and enjoy some of their famous beaches.  We went on a 'Jeep Wrangler Adventure' tour, which involved more mental exercise than I anticipated!  I had to drive on the left-hand side of the road while operating a right-hand drive Jeep!  We drove all around the island, visited the town of Hell, and then ended on a resort beach where we were able to go snorkeling out on the reef.

In case you were wondering, they do serve Budweiser in hell.
(c) Sean R.
When we visited Cozumel, we took the opportunity to tour the Mayan ruins in Tulum.  That took the entire day but was definitely worth it.  Seeing the windows where the sun would rise during the mornings of the solstices and equinoxes fascinated me the most.

We finally ended our vacation with a tour of New Orleans . Highlights of that tour included seeing the Superdome, levees, the 9th Ward, and the Cemetery of St. Roch.

2.  Food

A cold watermelon & raspberry soup topped
with creme fraiche & pistachios... yum!
(c) Sean R.
Oh, where to begin!  Cruising is definitely a foodie's dream.  Every dish is made from scratch and was a fine dining experience.  We had some of the freshest, most amazing muesli on board.  Each three-course dinner had a different theme.  Snacks and cookies were also available on-board, and with only a few exceptions, it’s included in the cost!

The exceptions are usually the specialty restaurants.  These can be great options for people who want a quieter dinner that is fancier or more specialized.  However, we decided not to partake in the specialty dining rooms.  The other exception was the coffee bar.  If you wanted an espresso drink you had to pay extra, however, prices were still cheaper than at Starbucks!


3.  Entertainment

Cruise lines are constantly thinking of new things to add.  On our cruise there were belly flop competitions, daily bingo games, and a version of the Newlyweds Game.  There were two aerial shows, which included a balancing act made all the more impressive because the ship was going through some rougher seas at that time!  For three of evenings, there were professional comedy shows, all of which were hilarious!

There were also special events for people at different stages in their lives.  We enjoyed a special honeymooner’s luncheon for complimentary mimosas or champagne with other couples!  There were also luncheons for the singles onboard and events for teens and kids so the parents can do their own thing.  The best part…It’s all included in your cruise package!

The aerial show!
(c) Sean R.
4.  Culture

The cruise is designed to optimize meeting new people and making new friends.  A myriad of cultures were represented by both staff and passengers.  Our head waitress was named Laarni, and she was from the Philippines.  The assistant waiter was named Sezai, and he was from Turkey.  Both of them were wonderful waiters and more than happy to talk with us.

Our guide in Tulum
(c) Sean R.
In each of the port, we were able to talk and interact with local people.  The tour guides were very interested in sharing their stories and culture.  Our guide in Cozumel was of Mayan descent and passionately explained his culture and history.  Having him guide us through the Tulum ruins was an absolutely incredible experience.  You could just feel his passion!




5.  Value

So let’s talk value.  The upfront cost might strike you as incredibly expensive, especially when you include airfare.  But break down the individual costs for a similar trip and you’ll quickly realize that it’s really a good value.  Hotels are incredibly expensive, and I don’t know of any hotels that’ll also fold towel animals or provide all your meals with your board!

Why, Mr. Hiss, aren't you lookin' stylish tonight?
(c) Sean R.
And beyond your room and meals, the on-board entertainment is also included.  We were able to see a comedy show in the theater each night plus the aerial/balancing act on the last evening.  Just imagine the cost for nightly theater tickets anywhere else.  It would be incredible!

With many of the modern cruise ships, they have on-board water slides, surfing experiences, rock walls, and even zip lines.  All of these things are included in your package price.  With all of this in mind, cruising really is a great value for the money you spend!

Sean and his beautiful bride!
(c) Sean R.

So are you ready to book your cruise vacation?!  Have you ever been on a cruise?

Linking up with #TravelTuesday!