Our cruise in the med was wonderful! We experienced so much from precious family time, to R & R, to seeing incredible breathtaking sights and eating fabulous authentic dishes. Sorry for the lack of communication but the internet on cruise ships is very dodgy & very expensive! Please visit the travel page of the blog for highlights & awesome things as well as the gallery page for photos of our trip. Dayne, I have posted the Chef's Table Menu just for you! It has taken a week to catch up on jet lag, playing with the cats, bills, laundry etc, but now we are back to making our apartment into a home, and by the way, still catching up on emails!
At the Port of Livorno we took a tour to Cinque Terre which means five lands. It is a beautiful area otherwise known as the Italian Riviera. Vineyards, houses and churches are perched on dramatic cliffs. Lemons are the size of grapefruits and we were there during the lemon festival. The area is known for its pine nuts & basil so of course pesto is a popular dish. It was so bursting with flavour that we all bought jars to take home with us. On the tour we took a boat along the stunning coast as well as two trains. Our tour guide Andrea was fantastic, he was a historian who was full of knowledge and humour, he is from the bay known as the bay of poets where Shelley & Keats were known to have lived.
In our port of call Citavecchia we met our very buff boxing Italian driver Dario who took us to visit the catacombs in Tarquinia. They were discovered in the 1960's and are from the Etruscan civilization of 500-400BC. My favourite was the Leopardi catacomb. We then went to the old city centre to visit the museum which had on display gorgeous Etruscan vases. After dining on authentic Etruscan cuisine ordered by Dario, we gazed upon a breathtaking vista of the countryside. Dario then surprised us by taking us to see a true miracle, Our Lady Of Tears otherwise known as the Weeping Madonna or "The Madonnina of Citavecchia" at the Parish of St Augustine. From the 2nd of February to the 15th of March 15th in 1995, the statue wept tears of human blood fourteen times. Pilgrimages visit from all over the world.
We finished the tour with gelato of course!
Mom & Dad had arranged for us a Galley tour which included a chef's table food & wine pairing where we were treated like kings! Travis was very impressed with the huge Galley and the way it was organized. This was our menu: blue crab leg martini salad, panko crusted black tiger shrimp lollipop, escargot on puff pastry, caviar on hashbrown, champagne, all served in the Galley. We then proceeded to the dining room to a beautiful table where they presented each dish with style. We were served: prosecco risotto, Bloody Mary granite with Grey Goose vodka poured on top, the biggest lobster tail I have ever seen, diver scallops, beef filet mignon & lamb rib chops, vegetables, roasted potatoes, baked brie tartlet, soft-center chocolate fallen cake with ice cream on a sugar plate. RIDICULOUS! The Executive Chef was from Sicily and the food was divine. When coffee was served a waiter from the Philippines serenaded us with his guitar and we all sang along to the Beatles. The maître d'hôtel presented the ladies with roses, they gave us a photo of our table as well as a beautiful cookbook. What a special night!
We had fun taking the "hop on hop off" bus in Barcelona on a beautiful sunny day admiring the stunning architecture. Curves & roofs designed like dragon scales, so impressive. It is such a clean city even the docks were pristine. We went to see La Sagrada Familia Basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi. It has been under construction since 1882 and features breathtaking spires and awe-inspiring stained glass windows. We thought we were inside Sauron's Tower!
Corsica, the birthplace of Napolean is a beautiful little island and we wanted to take the bus to the beach. After waiting an hour for the no. 5, however, we gave up thinking it must be a practical joke that the locals play on the tourists "the no. 5 is not, as they say, regular"! So instead we made up for it by having mussels in a restaurant by the pier.
London was fantastic, what an awesome city. We stayed in the beautiful Mayfair area and I had my delicious authentic fish & chips. We went on the "hop on" "hop off" bus to see the city. We learned many interesting facts such where "on the wagon" and " one for the road" come from. We had a great tour of the Tower of London, were mesmerized by the Crown Jewels and experienced eerie feelings after climbing the Bloody Tower as well as seeing the scaffolding spot where Ann Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey had their heads chopped off. We also took a boat ride on the Thames. Wonderful spending family time with Uncle Geoff, Juliet, Uncle Richard Emily, Jessica, Rupert & Hugo. So excited as Emily is about to have her first baby! I unfortunately spent all my energy that day and wasn't able to meet Travis's family due to fatigue and very sore legs. Travis was able, however, to take the train to Harpenden and spend time with Coral, John, Megan & Sher and their children and had a great time reconnecting. I also had the privilege to meet Gordon Campbell the Canadian High Commissioner to the UK. It was at the Canada Monument where they were honouring the fallen soldiers of Afghanistan, very cool singing Oh Canada in London! We finished our London trip by eating at Jamie Oliver's one of Travis's favourite chefs.
We are now aboard the Emerald Princess and were lucky enough to be upgraded to a mini-suite which has a walk-in closet and a bathtub! For Mother's Day I treated my mom to a couples massage (with me! Ha, sorry dad!). The seas were pretty rough yesterday we were rockin & rollin, luckily today is much calmer. We are on our way to Barcelona and will arrive sometime Wednesday, as we were late leaving Southampton because other ships had to borrow our tugs due to the wind.
Did you know that the blue cornflower is used as an international symbol of hope for ALS...
The cornflower, a native annual/ biennial plant from Mediterranean Europe, represents positive hope for the future; it is a humble reminder of nature's simple beauty and the fullness of life's cycle. The blue cornflower is to ALS what the daffodil is to cancer....they are the "flower of hope" for both diseases.
The blue cornflower plant is a very courageous plant - being able to stand against all the elements of nature (something many other plants cannot do) and the flower, with its star-like blossoms of brilliant blue, is one of our most striking wild-flowers. When you relate this to people with ALS, you can see that they have to also show courage, something that is not always easy, and strength of character to cope with the devastating changes that occur to the muscles in their bodies.
The blue cornflower was chosen to symbolize ALS, as it hardy despite its fragile appearance. It is also long lasting, and grows in most locations in Canada. As the blue cornflower is planted, awareness of ALS grows along with it across the country.
This year there are 85 Walks taking place across Canada... Some people walk to honor, others walk in memory. Come show your support at the 2014 Walk - do it for a friend, a neighbor or a loved one - and help us move together towards hope.
-Lisa Brianne Lauzier
Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to my walk for ALS fundraising campaign!
It has been amazing reconnecting with old friends who have been so thoughtful and generous.
Still looking for people who want to join my team and/or help me reach my goal! It feels good to give back, ALS Canada and the ALS clinic at the Ottawa Hospital have been so wonderful and helpful in getting me the equipment I need. They are going above and beyond as you can see by my transport chairs. I now have two! One is a 2 in 1 walker/wheelchair which we will be bringing on our cruise tomorrow! It is fantastic as I still want to walk whenever I can but sometimes I "crash" which means that my physical and emotional energy quits on me. With the 2 in 1 I can go on excursions, walk around with stability and rest when I need to. The other chair is more permanent and great for going out for the day at home with Travis, like walks in the park, etc. It has a more comfortable back as well as armrests. It's so weird to me to be talking so matter-of-factly about wheelchairs as when I was first diagnosed being in a wheelchair was a "worst case scenario", amazing how quickly the human body/psyche adapts to circumstances.
Travis & I are so excited to be leaving tomorrow for our Mediterranean cruise with Mom & Dad! We are looking forward to seeing our families in London, going to places we've never been before and Travis taking a break from cooking! Now I just need to figure out where to watch the Habs in London!
While we're away we will be having another Open House, we've just dropped the price again on our Condo, it is heartbreaking that our beautiful home won't sell, hopefully the weather will get better and the traffic will increase. Great to have a vacation from stress, we'll leave it all behind, when on the open waters of the Med.
Carol Jean Skinner (née Sharman)