Thursday, June 19, 2008


Llegamos a Mexico el Lunes y el Miercoles ya estabamos rumbo a Queretaro para visitar a Wendy, Minnie, Fabi, y Andy.
JP y Sydney se han divertido muchisimo jugando con sus primos. El clima esta comodisimo y hasta patinaje sobre gel hemos practicado. Aqui van unas fotos.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Semana en Syracuse, NY

Llegamos sanos y salvos a Syracuse. Esta semana estuvo llena de actividades para todos. Mi sobrina Chelsey paso unos dias con nosotros en casa de mis suegros y JP y Sydney disfrutaron mucho su compania. Aparte de hacer visitas al parque, museo, juegos, ir a nadar, etc., yo he usado el poco tiempo liebre que he tenido para ir de compras =)
Aqui hay una fotos de los ninios divirtiendose al maximo.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mediterranean Cruise - Part 3

For the price we paid, I am not sure how they can provide the quality of food, level of service, lodging, transportation, entertainment, etc and still make a profit.

We brought the kids to the entertainment that night, a production called "Absolutely Fab". It once again featured the Legend of the Seas singers, dancers, and orchestra. It was a lot of singing and dancing, but based on more modern artists. It was actually kind of a tribute to some artists of 80's and 90's like Elton John, George Michael, Queen, etc. Sydney was especially fascinated and was singing and clapping throughout. After putting the kids to bed, we went to the casino and took another beating. It was the worst gambling day on the cruise. Hopefully, it was the last and we can make it up tomorrow.

We finally come to the last day of the cruise - day 12. We had our last land excursion to the ancient city of Pompeii, completely covered and almost perfectly preserved by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 96 AD. The city is absolutely amazing. It accomodated a population of 20,000 people. We saw apartments, houses, store fronts, bakeries, bars, the central market area, theaters, and even a brothel, which had a "menu" above the entrance way to each room. Pompeii was a port city with many visitors. Like most cities today, there are signs directing visitors to places of interest. The sign directing visitors to the brothel is very funny - see the picture. Each home in the city had lead pipes that provided running water - amazing.

After the tour, we went back to the ship, and spent the rest of the afternoon with the kids playing mini golf, ping pong, and swimming. It was a very enjoyable afternoon for the whole family. We had washed up and had our final dinner of cruise. It was a fairly unimpressive menu for the last night, but some spectacular desserts made up for it. It was a sad goodbye to our waiters - they took great care of us and the kids really enjoyed them. The evening entertainment was a magic show to which we had high hopes of bringing the kids. We had a little time to kill before the show so we played some blackjack. We did pretty well so we decided to come back again after the show. The magician was very good, but the stage and theater were very dark so the kids passed out half way through. We took them back to the room, did our final packing, and hit the casino for the last time. Unfortunately, our luck had changed and we lost it all. I felt like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. As they say in Mexico, you can never have both good luck and be lucky in love. I guess we must be lucky in love, because our luck in the casino is horrible.

We had a decent night sleep, but were awaken early to the sound of various groups being called to leave the ship. Two days before, you fill out a form indicating when you need to leave the ship. Passengers are then sorted into groups based on their departure time. The night before departure, you receive a color and a number corrsponding to your group. We were purple 7. We got dressed, went up to the restaurant to have breakfast and our number was called right on time at 8:15.

In retrospect, it was a great cruise. We saw 7 incredible cities, ate 35 fantastic meals, rested, gambled, went to shows and seminars, played mini golf and ping pong, swam, and met a lot of great people from around the globe. Cruises tend to be expensive, but you get a tremendous value for the money.

More fun time on the ship

Ship Talent Show

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mediterranean Cruise - Part 2

Our final stop was to a papyrus factory. Papyrus is ancient paper made from the papyrus plant, and it lasts for thousands of years (versus todays paper that stays preserved for a few hundred years only). It was not until the 1970's that scientists discovered the process used by the ancient Egyptians to make papyrus.

After this stop, we started the long ride back to the ship. The day was long and the sun was hot, so once again the kids used the opportunity to catch up on their sleep. We got back late, so we got the kids to bed and caught a quick snack. We had been taking a beating in the casino, so we decided to catch a movie instead. You might be surprised to know that the ship not only has a movie theater, but several night clubs, pools, mini golf course, libraray, internet cafe, conference rooms, spa/health center and a rock climbing wall. This ship is actually mid sized. Bigger ships have specialty restaurants and even a bowling alley.

As we travel the 3 hours back from Giza to the ship in Alexandria, and seeing that I am now caught up on the blogging, it might be nice to comment some more on what the kids have been doing on this cruise. Ever since we took a short 4 day cruise last year, they have been counting the days until the next cruise (literally - they have a calendar where they count down the days to the cruise). From the time they wake up, they want to be with their friends in "aqua ocean". This is the kids program on the ship and JP and Syd are in the group called "aquanauts". In the aquanauts program, the kids play games, do science projects, have storytime, etc. The program has been developed in conjunction with Fisher Price, so it is very interactive and educational. When we are at sea (4 sea days in total) they spend 4-5 hours per day in the program. We usually have to bribe them to leave the program, and usually do so with swimming and ice cream. We usually hit the pool for a couple of hours per day, until about 5PM at which time we get ready for dinner. It takes us about an hour to get showered and dressed, so the kids usually catch a little TV while they are getting cleaned up. In the evening, we have a formal dinner, and it is a great opportunity for the kids to practice their manners. They love interacting with our waiters (James and Sennait), they got constant reminders to say please and thankyou (we keep telling ourselves that someday they will say the magic words without prompting), and do their best to keep their napkin on their lap. Sometimes, we will take them to evening entertainment after dinner. For example, on day 6 there was a variety show that consisted of a juggeler and two acrobatic performers - the kids loved it. JP now wants to be a juggeling acrobat when he grows up. More often than not, we finish dinner around 8:30, and by that time, the kids are wiped out and ready for bed. All the activity throughout the day makes them sleep like champs. We took them on our land excursions whenever we hit a port of call, but they beg to go back to the ship. We only have a couple of ports left (athens and naples), but I think we will leave them back on the ship.

Day 9 was a sea day. We returned from the pyramids the night before around 10PM, so we all slept in and took it easy. The kids had some time at aquanauts, Sandy and I had our first workout of the cruise. It was pretty windy outside, so we skipped the pool and instead had a family game of ping pong - the kids were so excited to play. They were mesmerized watching other people play, and were so happy to get a turn. JP actually has some skills - Sydney was happy enough grabbing the balls that fell out of play.

We were hoping to take the kids to the evening entertainment that night, a performance called "Swing City" involving the Legends of the Sea orchestra, singers, and dancers. It was a great performance with a lot of singing and dancing. The kids would have loved it, but they just barely stayed awake through dinner. The performance was only an hour, so Sandy and I visited the casino afterwards. Earlier that day, we played that game where you put a quarter in the machine, and a mechanical plow pushes all the quarters to the edge. Intermingled throughout the quarters are 10's and 20's. We found one where the 20 was about to go over the edge. We fed the machine a few quarters and got the 20. We tried it again after the show and were once again successful.

Day 10 we visited Athens via the port city of Piraeus. We took another land excursion, but this time left the kids behind. It is a good thing too because we were up high on a hill and there were a lot of unprotected areas, so we would have had to hold on to the kids the whole time, which they would have hated. We hopped on a bus, and after a tour of Piraeus and Athens, we went to the Acropolis. In greek, "acro" means high point and "polis" means city. So acropolis means the high city, which makes sense since it is perched way up high on a hill. The acropolis used to be a whole complex of buildings and two ampitheaters, used for outdoor celebrations. However, there are only four buildings left, the most famous of which is the parthenon. The other three are the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaea. The acropolis was built in the 5th century BC, which is also known as the Golden Age. It is the time that democracy, philosophy, and theater were invented by guys like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. Democracy and Philosophy are just a couple of the 30,000 words in the English dictionary that come from Greece (most are medical words). The parthenon is an incredible structure, 8 columns wide and 17 columns long. From a distance, it looks very symetric and straight. However we learned that the ancient greeks were master architects and mathmeticians. They employed many tricks to make the parthenon look so perfect. For example, the columns, although they look perfectly straight, are actually curved. If they were extened upwards, they would actually form a giant pyramid. The columns are also tappered at the top and are wider at the middle of the building and at the corners. We also saw one of the ampitheaters called the Odeon-seats about 5000 and is still in use today.

After the tour, we went back to the boat, had lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool with the kids. The weather could not have been more perfect.

The next day (day 11) was a day at sea. The kids enjoyed the aquanauts program and sandy and I spent some more time in the casino. We started with the machine that I had described earlier. We sunk 40 into it and got nothing back, so all our previous gains on this machine were lost - maybe we'll give it one more chance before the end of the cruise. I also entered a black jack tournament and was tied with a few other people for last place - as you might have guessed, our gambling skills are lacking. In the late morning, there was a talent show in the adventure ocean program. The older kids did some singing and joke telling while the younger kids did a group performance. JP and Syd were in the younger group and did great. After lunch, we spent the afternoon in the pool. For dinner, it was our last formal night, so Sandy and I decided to have our first dinner without the kids. For no extra charge, kids can have dinner with the adventure ocean program, which they much prefer since they can have good old pizza and hot dogs instead of the fancy food in the main restaurant. It was a relaxing dinner without the kids. It was also extra special since they were also serving lobster tail. This was not on the menu, but came as a complement to the tiger shrimp main course. Our waiter was very good and seemed to know our tastes, so without request, he had already ordered seconds for Sandy and I and had it ready to go when we finished round 1 - what a feast! The food on the cruise was in general very good - duck, lamb, tenderloin, shrimp cocktail, escargo, etc, etc. Each meal consisted of appetizer, main course, and dessert (and often times double dessert).