Thursday, March 29, 2012

Puerto Vallarta - Mexico

Our first port of call was Puerto Vallarta.

It was lovely and we shared the port with two other ships, so you can imagine that the demand from footpath sellers for business was fierce.

We had booked a shore tour so after breakfast we met our guide for the day and then got on our bus.

It was a Tequila Tasting and Tortilla Making tour with visits to 'villages'.

Some of the villages we went through looked more like regular suburbs to me.

Some were a bit run down but some were nice.

We saw some lovely buildings and visited a lovely Catholic Church.

Then we went on our Tequila tasting tour.

I don't drink, so The Groom was at a loss as to why I booked this tour, but it was interesting.

I loved the smell of the mashed up agave, it reminded me of sugar cane mash.  

And it tasted good, too, even though it was covered in bees.

While the talk and tasting was going on, I plonked myself by this trough and sucked on the mash and swatted away the bees.

I think people might have thought I was a bit odd.

We had lunch at a restaurant as part of our tour and the food was so good!

And plentiful.

Afterwards, we wandered about the shopping centre opposite the port.

The Liverpool department store was very expensive but there was the most heavenly display of chocolates and lollies and other delights (but I didn't buy anything).

We tried to translate signs into English and failed miserably.

We took heaps of photos of the kids in front of Spanish signs advertising Christmas, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Senor Frog's and more.

The only negative thing about this port, and it indicative of many ports, is the pushiness from stall traders for your business.

At times the pushiness of some people made me feel very uncomfortable when they'd follow us down the street, and I found it completely unacceptable when they would try and co-opt the kids into getting us to buy from them.

Soon, too soon, though, it was time to board our home for the week and head off to Cabo San Lucas.

It was good to be 'welcomed home' as home is what being on board felt like with our new little family of Disney Wonder friends.

I can't believe they forgot!

I'm still in shock, one day later!

It was my birthday yesterday and The Groom, The Princess and Little Man FORGOT!!!!

Poor, woeful me.

I woke up yesterday morning - no birthday greetings.

Everyone left for work or school - no birthday greetings.

Everyone would have arrived at work or school - still no birthday greetings.

The Groom came home early mid-morning to get my car as it needed new tyres - STILL no birthday greetings.

I had planned to spend the day in my pj's watching tacky shows on daytime tv but ended up getting called in to work, so off I went.

Still nothing by the time I got home.

So, I checked FB to see if ANYONE ELSE remembered my birthday - there was a message from my mum and sister-in-law and some other family members and it was only then when I was responding that Little Man came in and saw the messages that he realised!

The Princess came in to see what I was doing and gave me an origami card she made for me (the I heard her whisper to her brother "did you know it is mummy's birthday today?")

The Groom came home with a friend to do some work on the bobcat - still no birthday greetings.

I said that I wanted to go out for dinner (just to drop a hint) and was told it might not be possible as it could take hours to finish what they had to do.

So, I decided that I would just go at 6pm anyway.  


The Groom dropped off his friend at home and still hadn't come back by 5.45pm.

Then the phone rang.

"I'm on my way home, we can go out to dinner if you want."

I replied that I was getting changed and was about to walk out with the kids for dinner as he phoned.

So I had to wait for him.

I didn't say anything about it being my birthday.

Just as we were at the traffic lights before turning into the car park at the place I wanted to eat at, I asked The Groom if he had forgotten anything today.

He replied that no, he didn't think he did.  

But then he realised...

And said....

"I didn't forget it was your birthday and if you don't believe me you can call Friend."

I said that I would and ask WHAT TIME did The Groom remember my birthday?

The Groom argued that it was a moot point as to what time he remembered, but rather that he remembered in the first place.

I must say, it's a good thing I don't make a big deal about my birthday, especially considering last year's disaster at having a 40th birthday that coincided with a Nitro Circus tour (that took precedence over my birthday).

Happy birthday to anyone else who has had a birthday yesterday (and especially if your loved ones forgot about it...)!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Baby Girl

I love you so much!

Thank you for everything you have taught me about myself over the past 12 years.

I hope you look back on life as you get older with nothing but feelings of joy and love.

I wish you the world.

Love you Princess.

love, Mummy

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Disney Wonder to Mexico

The main reason for our trip to America last Christmas was to sail on the Disney Wonder.

We sailed from L.A to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.

Mazatlan was originally on the itinerary but was withdrawn because of safety issues. 

It's a shame as it was the one place I most wanted to visit.

We had originally booked an inside room but since we use the sun to wake ourselves up we later changed our booking to a room with a port hole window.

We had met some lovely people at the motel we stayed at the night before (Vagabond Inn in San Pedro; cheap, but I don't really recommend it), and they suggested upgrading to a balcony room at port if we wanted to as the upgrades are generally cheaper at port.

So we did.

For an extra $490 we got ourselves a verandah room and it was heaven.  

We doubt we'd go back to a room without fresh air again - on some nights we slept with the door open and listened to the waves lapping at the side of the ship and feeling the fresh sea air on our faces.

Then again, it all comes back down to money and what we have to spend next time around.

We were one of the first groups (after the Concierge bookings and 'frequent sailors') onboard so we had plenty of time to look around before we went to Parrot Cay for lunch.

We explored our cabin.

It was much nicer than the P&O one we sailed on years ago from Brisbane to Noumea, Lifou and Port Vila.

We even had a queen sized bed to ourselves!

There was a sofa bed and a fold down bed off the wall for the children - who took it in turns to sleep on the top bunk.

The bathroom wasn't overly big and you wouldn't want to be a big person to have a shower, but it was compact and we appreciated the separate toilet and hand basin in the other room.

It made things so much easier in the morning with the kids brushing their teeth in the other bathroom while I was in the shower.

And our room attendant/housekeeper, Ferdie, was so lovely and accommodating.

We had watched a Discovery Travel show years ago on the Disney cruise ships and I couldn't wait to see for myself what I had seen on tv.

I loved this sculpture in the main foyer - it looks like glass but isn't.

It reminds me of coral.

Mickey ears heading up the elevator.

Ariel's statue outside of Triton's restaurant.

I loved the massive Christmas tree in the main foyer.

We all gathered around it for the turning on the lights ceremony and the "snow" to fall - it's the same kind of stuff they use at Disneyland and smelled and tasted like cinnamon.

One of the light fittings inside my favourite restaurant, Parrot Cay.

I felt like I was back in the Tiki room at Disney!

No detail was overlooked - even the elevator floor hands were Mickey!

Not a really good picture of the "snow" falling in the foyer.

For all of the mums, this is one of the laundry rooms onboard.

Each washer and dryer load, and the assorted detergents, softeners etc, were $1 each and you swiped your card to use them, which was charged back to your onboard account.

I saved washing powder samples from magazines etc throughout the year and used them while we travelled.

It was lovely having the balcony off our room.

Sometimes, I'd sit outside with a magazine or book and read in the silence.

You'd never believe we were actually below the pool deck!

Some mornings we'd turn on the tv and watch the view from the bridge.

Some people in the inside cabins leave their tv turned on to this channel all night so that they can use the light from the dawn to wake them up - it's kind of like having a porthole view but from inside!

Ah, food.

I love it and I'm generally happy with plain, simple food.

But when you're not the one cooking, I'm happy to go with something different and nicer to what I'd normally cook.

Personally, I felt the overall quality of food on the Disney ship was not as good as that on the P&O one we sailed on.

I suppose the food on Disney is more based on American tastes.

It was good, but there was nothing that really stood out for me.

We noticed many families whose children solely ate from the children's menu - which mainly consisted of chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, burgers etc.

We've always insisted our children choose at least one thing off the main menu (excluding dessert).

So lets have a look at some of what we ate (and yes, I am one of those people who photograph their food!)

I signed up to be part of a Fish Extender group onboard.

It was so much fun, kind of like a Secret Santa.

I loved how people decorated their cabin doors, too.

We didn't see any of that on P&O.

There are rules if you want to decorate your cabin door or room - only use magnets, nothing sticky like tape or blu-tack or anything that can damage the surface.

Some people have reported having things go missing from their extender, which is such a low act to commit, but we didn't have any problems.

Although, we found other people's magnets on our door we didn't lose any of ours.

I loved 'sneaking' around the ship delivering our gifts to the people in our group, and we loved coming back to our room and checking our extender to see if there was anything left for us.

The whole thing made the cruise much more fun, and it helped forge friendships. 

Not everyone who decorated their doors participated in the Fish Extender, though.

There was a lot to see and do on the ship, or you could be as lazy as you wanted.

We even got to see the Muppets movie before it was released at the cinema.

Basically, the cruise was like Disney on water (without the rides).

The kids loved it, The Groom and I loved it, and while we didn't re-book another cruise onboard (you get a discount and extra on-board credit for the next one if you do), we later decided that we definitely want to do another and have our sights set on doing one later next year from Florida to the Caribbean.

Although, I like the one that goes to Barcelona from Florida...

Many of the American passengers onboard said that the Disney cruise line sailings are quite expensive compared to other companies, but we found it cheaper than the P&O one if you discount the cost of the airfares etc.

We had so much fun Little Man didn't want to get off the ship!

Character greetings around the ship PLUS at one of the breakfasts (that you would pay extra for at Disney or their hotels).

Because I had spent months reading various Disney-related forums and blogs, I knew that the Princess' tea was a hotly contested ticket to get.

As SOON as I got onboard I went straight to the reception desk and signed up for tickets to the tea and to the gingerbread making activity.

In the end, The Groom and Little Man didn't want to have tea with the Princesses so I gave away their tickets to some people in our Fish Extender group.

I'd heard there was a waiting list for these tickets within hours of our boarding so I was happy to share our spare tickets at the last moment.

Our 'tea' was apple juice and we had chocolate chip cookies after our lessons in curtseying and holding your tea cup (except The Princess spilled her cup in all of the excitement!)

The teen's club.

One of the Oceaneer clubs.

Little Man, The Princess and I made our gingerbread house together - it was that full of lollies we just couldn't eat it all in the end.

It sat in the bar fridge in our cabin while we nibbled away on it over the week (and because you aren't allowed to take food off the ship what was left of it ended up being thrown out).

So was it one of the best holidays ever?

Considering we haven't had that many big holidays like this, actually, we've never had a big holiday like this - ever, I'd have to say it was THE BEST!

Actually, the whole trip was wonderful - from skipping around Disneyland to trying tequila in Mexico, learning to ski in Montana, losing my small fortune ($50) in Vegas and lots more, it was the best holiday I've ever had and I can't wait to do it again.

Now we've got to spend the next year or so saving up for the next one.

What the heck, the house renovations can wait - the kids are only this young once and before we know it they'll be teens who won't want to be caught dead out in public with us - especially if their reaction to my excitement at being at Disneyland is anything to go by...