Saturday, March 2, 2013

Caribbean Cruise

This was my backyard a few days ago. We had yet another huge snowfall! The snow was heavy and wet but it sure made a stunning wintery scene! Can you see why the Caribbean cruise that took place over a week ago was "needed"!? Anyway, I am taking you onto another virtual cruise. This time we are headed to San Juan ( Puerto Rico), then Saint Martin and St. Thomas.

Through our beloved pet cat Alexia, you can get an idea of the trip....
These are a few of my favorite photos of Alexia from this trip.
Here is Alexia's report....take it away, Alexia!

Hi, Alexia here. Let me tell ya, cruise life is tough! But someone's got to do it, right?
Sun-bathing in Saint Martin
 The beach was beautiful and serene.
Making sure the life boats are in working order!
Inspecting the kitchen galley on the ship.
Posing with the Lu Family's dirty dishes--boy, they cleaned up those plates well!
 Watching David gobbled up his desserts for the 2nd time in the afternoon.
Virginia can't leave home without her stamp porn (according to Dr. John) - Paper Crafts magazine and ME.
 And guess what!? There is actually GRASS on the top deck of the ship!
 Getting on/off the massive ship.
 Admiring the stunning coast lines in San Juan. Virginia held me very tightly as she was worried that I will be lost during the photo shoot!
Yeah, we made it to Puerto Rico!
 Enjoying the ocean breeze.
Taking a thrilling ride on a cable car in St. Thomas to Paradise Point.
 Don't you just love the view? 
And doing what a tourist does in St. Thomas. Say cheese!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mediterranean Cruise (Part 6)

Buon giorno (good day)!! Hope you have enough energy today...because we are off to explore Sicily and Mount. Etna!
  (photo credit: Dr. John)
We arrived at the seaport Messina in Sicily. This was the famous statue at the harbor...This photo was taken by my daughter Stephanie in the early morning.
 First off, we went to explore the town of Taormina. It is a delightful medieval town, perched on the terrace overlooking the sea. From here you can see Mt. Etna!
We did some strolling in the town and discovered this chocolate museum shop! Can you believe that the displays were made with chocolate! I couldn't quite believe it even though I saw these art works (see that chocolate "dress"?) with my own eyes! I was so inspired by these intricate designs and patterns at the time that I missed stamping (LOL)! 
 The chef/owner proudly smiled for us!
 Taormina is very popular with tourists all year around. This little town has inspired photographer   such as Wilhem von Gloeden. Taormina's first important tourist was Johann Wolfgang Goethe who dedicated exalting pages to the city in his book entitled Italian Journey. Starting from the 19th century Taormina became a popular tourist resort in the whole of Europe: people who visited Taormina include Oscar Wilde, Nicholas I of Russia, Nietzsche (who here wrote his Also sprach Zarathustra), Richard Wagner and many others.  
(The Duomo dates back from 13th century-photo credit: Dr. John)
During the early 20th century the town became a colony of expatriate artists, writers, and intellectuals. I only wish we had more time to explore Taormina ... one and half hour was not enough do do its justice!
 And of course, during that short period of time of visit, we had to do some food shopping and sampling...I ended up buying some Oregano,  mixed Italian herbs and pasta! The kids were happy to get some Gelato! The chocolate hazelnut treat (see below in the middle) was so yummy!
After this lovely visit, we started our 1/1/2 hour bus ride to Mount. Etna--Europe's largest active volcano. We saw the remnants of the eruptions in 2002.
 It got colder as we went higher to the mountain....
After we reached the destination stop, it's time for a small lunch :)
 This was our scrumptious lunch-- Italian Rice Ball (Fried Risotto) and pizza!
 After that, we roamed around the rim of the craters.
 We arrived at Silvertri Spent Craters, almost 6,400 feet above sea level.
I felt so blessed to be able to be on top of Mt. Etna with my family. Life is good!

 Thanks so much for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mediterranean Cruise (Part 5)

Ready to tour Pompeii with me and my family? When we reached Pompeii, as part of the bus tour package, we were invited to visit a handicrafts shop. And that's where we started the Pompeii visit---how convenient!! I think they were trying to sell us tourists something...
These intricate and details Cameos are made with sea shells. It is quite an amazing process!
( work tools for crafting the cameos)
 These intricate silhouette pendants look absolutely stunning! Want one? It's only $4,450 Euros ( $ 6000 US)! Dr. John decided to take a photo and asked me to admire instead!

Well, let's go to Pompeii and explore the ruins....
The following photo shows Mount Vesuvius in the background.
 Pompeii was lost for nearly 1700 years before its rediscovery in 1748. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the time.
Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year. And of course, the following photos reminded us how horrific it was when Mount Vesuvius erupted on its last day...
Plaster cast of one of the victims
 There were the stoves! I didn't feel like cooking that day...
My two kids and I walked on the paved streets
 And before there were Legos, there was this.... (Dr. John's observation). Alexia posed with the BRICK!
 My family stood in front of a house.
Alert------>we came across the brothel in one of the streets! Thank goodness, my kids are all over 18! No need to explain (insert a bashful face)
You can click on it for larger view ;)
 Finally we came to the half-circle theater!
  It was quite impressive!
(photo credit: Stephanie Lu)
 With this spectacular photo (yup, that sky is THAT blue), we now conclude our tour to Pompeii! We will be off to Sicily NEXT! Ciao!