back again, a cruise, and dizzy

Last year turning into this one has been interesting for me, to say the least. It was sometimes amazingly wonderful, to say the best, and sometimes pretty lousy, to say the worst. I had a re-occurrence of back issues, followed by an amazing Disney cruise, followed by a bizarre (but familiar to me) case of dizzyness I’m still shaking off the dregs of now. So that was ouch, yay, and ugh, for anyone keeping score.

I had back surgery in 2012. It was, well, mostly successful, but not completely so. An oft-repeated mantra I’ve had to accept is that “the purpose of back surgery is not to fix your back, but to make it better than it was”. You rarely fix backs. Sometimes you make them better. Sometimes you don’t even do that. I’ve had a couple of bad back pain incidents since the surgery, and each one scared the bejeezus out of me. This one made it impossible to sit comfortably — that’s not hard on anyone’s life, right? (Anyone else ever have sciatica? Cringe with me now.) Luckily, I found a great new doctor, a physiatrist who helped me get past the pain and back on my feet, with some drugs, some physical therapy, and some patience. I also got a brand-new MRI that at the very least assured me there’s nothing terribly wrong with my back, just the usual bulges and whatnot everyone has — in other words, this time when a doctor looked at my MRI he didn’t say, “Oh dear god this is terrible”, so that was a step in the right direction.

Back pain Public Service Announcement: we were somewhat startled to realize that each time my back has been bad, since the surgery, it’s been the end of November/beginning of December. Like clockwork. My doctor says this is actually quite common — fall, and the change of seasons, is his busiest time. Moral of this story: go south.

As luck would have it, we had plans to go south, to the Caribbean, to be specific, for a wonderful cruise on the Disney Fantasy — back after having a terrific time on our honeymoon. I can’t say enough good things about the Fantasy. The rooms are spacious, the service is impeccable, the fun is everywhere to be had. A short glimpse of our trip:

The warm weather got my back feeling a thousand percent better on just the first day alone. (The jacuzzi helped too.) We had a terrific time.

But… the moment the cruise was over and we got back on land, something I dreaded happened. After the last cruise I found myself stuck with my sea legs. As the days and weeks went by, I still felt like I was on the ship, swaying back and forth, sometimes almost violently. It wasn’t a pleasant rocking. It wasn’t something that went away after a few days. Several different medicines and several different specialist visits later, we learned I had something called Mal de Débarquement syndrome. It’s super rare. It stinks. There’s no treatment. You just have to wait for it to hopefully subside. Luckily, that time, it did, after a miserable month. (Some people have it a lot longer. Like, even for years.)

Why did I cruise again, if this had happened to me before? Eh, I don’t know. I thought I hadn’t taken the right seasickness meds, I thought it was a fluke, I thought it wouldn’t happen again. But I did everything I could, this time, and it didn’t matter. They don’t know what causes this, but it tends to happen to women in their 40s who get migraines (raises hand) more than anyone else, so apparently I’m the poster child for MdDS. And this time it was worse. We came back from the cruise on January 9. This time it took closer to two months for my symptoms to fade, and they were stronger. Two really miserable months, and I didn’t want to talk about it, or the cruise, or anything much else for most of that time.

Today, though, I’m pretty close to being completely better. I feel like I’m just getting off the ship, in more ways than one. My back is in better shape, the world isn’t tilting precariously, and the snow is melting. So, it’s good to be back, finally. Land ho!

the happiest place on earth

PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_Park_7472505237Last week Dave took me to Disney World for my very first visit. It really is the happiest place on earth, though in full disclosure, it’s also one of the busiest, most hectic and somewhat expensive places out there too. We had a magical time, but Disney World is a marathon of a vacation, and not for the faint of heart.

We took a Disney cruise for our honeymoon and loved it, but the ships are relaxing — there’s a limit of how much running around you can do, that limit being the ship itself. Disney World, on the other hand, is enormous. It’s the size of San Francisco (not quite as fabulous, but it tries). Twice the size of Manhattan. It’s 25,000 acres and 40 square miles. I think we walked all of them in the four days we were there.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Epcot_7465721952

It’ll always look like a giant golf ball to me. I’m surprised Dave didn’t run screaming.

As an aside, we rented a car instead of relying on Disney transportation. This was a last-minute decision based on me coming down with a thankfully-not-appendicitis abdominal infection two weeks before the trip. The Disney transportation system of buses, monorails and ferry boats is impressive, and I think mostly works well. But we weren’t sure I’d be up to waiting even a short amount of time, when I needed to get out of Dodge. I did okay — just one or two rough patches — but better safe than sorry. We still used transport to get to the Magic Kingdom from the parking area, since you have to. Mostly we used the ferry, which is a nice way to float up to the park, Cinderella’s castle looming into view.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Epcot_7465377710Because I’m a geek, I had as good a time planning our vacation as I did going on it. We made our food plans — ADRs, Advanced Dining Reservations — right away, 180 days out. We didn’t get every restaurant we wanted right away, so I spent the next few months stalking out that elusive Be Our Guest dinner and the pre-park opening breakfast at Crystal Palace until we had everything just right. Then at 60 days out you get your FastPass+ selections — we were able to get one for everything we wanted since we’re not big thrill-riders. And then I found a fantastic group on Facebook for people visiting Disney in September. With slightly over 1600 members, the group was an amazing resource for shopping tips (disposable ponchos are at Dollar Tree! The new Disney Vans are out!), advice about getting around the parks, and trading hard-to-get reservations. I bought a pair of Cleo Crocs on a recommendation from the group, and wore them every day of the trip. Walked about 35 miles in those shoes in 4 days, and no blisters, no pain, no problems.

I was proud of how well I did walking. A couple of years ago, after my back surgery, I couldn’t walk around the block without terrible pain for days. But I’ve been swimming and exercising and getting stronger, and I did okay. For me the hard part is standing, not walking. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of standing (in line) at Disney World. I had some bad moments. But I made it!

IMG_3213

The view outside our room at dawn.

The trip was great. We stayed at the Port Orleans – French Quarter resort, which is small, quiet, and quaint. We liked the pool and we liked our room, but we felt a little too “away from it all”. Next time we’ll probably stay at one of the popular Value resorts. You don’t spend that much time in your room regardless, and the resorts all have great pools when you want to take a break and cool off. (I don’t know how people afford the Deluxe resorts, which look awesome — but some of those places are $500 a night. We’re not poor, but sheesh!)

We went to Rope Drop at the Magic Kingdom on our first day. Just before the park opens, the train arrives carrying Mickey and his friends. Along with Disney Cast Members (CMs) they give a welcome show and the park opens. You have to get up really early to get there (it’s crowded) but I’d heard a lot about it and I wanted to see it at least once. I didn’t know that they sing the “Good Morning” song from “Singing in the Rain”. Well, I lost it. My mother used to sing that to wake me up on special days — birthdays, picnics, field trips at school. I was all blubbery. I so wished I could call her at that moment, but it was a happy moment because of it.

IMG_3142

The “Tree of Life” in Animal Kingdom.

We were in the Magic Kingdom every day, but we also visited Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. I loved the Magic Kingdom, of course, but also really enjoyed Hollywood Studios. Toy Story Midway Mania is a blast, and Star Tours more fun than I could have imagined. The safari ride in Animal Kingdom was a lot of fun, as well as the Kali River Rapids ride — we got soaked! I wasn’t a huge fan of Epcot, though Soarin’ alone was worth visiting and I can’t say enough good things about Nine Dragons, a terrific Chinese restaurant in the World Showcase. All in all, I think we used our time really well — all that pre-planning helped. Dave will agree that for a girl on her first visit to Disney, by the time our trip took place I had our four days planned to pretty-near perfection, and we made the most of a short visit.

MK_FNTSYBRG_7464647679

It was so humid I was seriously envying that snow cloud.

We purchased the Memory Maker package and got a lot of great pictures. They have PhotoPass photographers throughout the parks and you walk up and have your picture taken. Sometimes there’s a little extra magic in the finished shot. 🙂 You can buy the photos online individually for $15 each, or you can buy the package for $199 ($169 in advance) and get all of them. We ended up with a couple hundred photographs, about 75 of which we definitely would have wanted — so it was worth it.

IMG_3129

Later he kissed my hand and I blushed. I love Sulley.

We met a lot of characters — having my picture taken with Sulley from Monsters, Inc. was a Disney bucket-list item for me.  I have a thing where I don’t really like meeting “face” characters. I mean, the princesses and all. I can’t get over the fact that I’m a grown woman and this is another grown woman pretending to be Sleeping Beauty. But Sulley, Pooh or Donald Duck? That’s totally different.

EPCOT_CHRCON2_7465493566The characters were great on the whole. Minnie and Daisy Duck make kissy noises when they hug you. Buzz challenged Dave and then danced an impromptu rumba with me. Goofy took one look at Dave’s Goofy shirt and then tried to quit work for the day, figuring this guy had his costume on and could take over. A lot of people think Disney’s just for kids, but it’s not true. We’re grown-ups, but we still love Disney, and we still wanted to have fun and goof around. The characters all understood that.

We shopped a lot. A LOT. The beauty of going to Disney with no kids and not being broke is that when you want things you get them, without worrying about whether you should or not. I got a new Pandora bracelet and charms, we cleaned up at Bonjour Village Gifts (for Beauty & the Beast fans) and Dave got very into pin collecting.

IMG_3200

Hidden Mickeys in the fireworks!

All good things come to an end, though. Eventually it was time to leave. In the moment we were so wiped out, we didn’t think we’d mind. But it didn’t take long for Disney Depression to set in. No one takes our Magic Bands as payment. No one’s told me to “Have a Magical Day” all week. And there are no FastPasses for skipping long lines anywhere. It’s sad.

Good thing our next cruise is in 94 days. 🙂


hayward house

8404866A little over four years ago, Dave and I were planning a trip to the Finger Lakes — to Ithaca, to see my friends. Or rather, to give my friends a chance to inspect my new boyfriend. (I think we decided he was a keeper.) The hotel I’d expected us to say at unexpectedly raised its rates, and I found myself saying to Dave, “How do you feel about bed & breakfasts?” After a short search and reading a few reviews, we booked a weekend at The Hayward House, and that’s how we found one of our favorite places in the world.

IMG_1357The Hayward House is in Interlaken, NY, and sort of in the middle of nowhere. I mean, not really, but it feels that way, in a good way. Driving up to it at night for the first time, gravel crunching underneath the tires and no lights, like, anywhere, you get a little worried you’ve unknowingly landed a part in Blair Witch 3. But when you get there, it’s a warm beacon if wonderfulness, a beautiful house and an amazing place to stay.

IMAG0270We’ve been back many times — a few more times when we were dating, the weekend before our wedding for a nice retreat, and just last year, in the summer. We’ve gone on the cheese trail, on sailboat rides, visited the nearby Amish market for cookies, honey and yogurt, and visited friends in the area. We’ve always loved it there — the same beautiful West View room with the lovely bedspread, the cozy chairs, and the stuffed cow that lives on the bed (I call him “Moo Moo Cow”), the alpacas next door (we got to see a newborn last visit) and the various animal residents all around.

IMG_1341The breakfasts are completely amazing — Kevin is a phenomenal cook and Michelle’s not bad herself — and we’ve always looked forward to them with glee. There is usually one other couple there when we are (though once it was just us). You meet some interesting people, some nice, some a little odd. One couple kept complaining that there was too much food… as if they force-feed you asparagus tarts and bacon and egg fritattas and delicious juice… They left the table early, which, frankly, meant more quiche for us that day. (And the house is spacious and people go their own way, so breakfast is the only time you have to socialize with anyone, just in case you get a dud like that.)

7733912_origThe Hayward House is one of our favorite places to be, hands down, anywhere in the world. And it’s a special place for Dave and I, as we went there together when we’d just gotten together, and have gone back for so many other milestones and special times. We’ll always cherish every memory we’ve made there. Recently, it went up for sale, and I hope whoever takes guardianship of this special place next continues its lovely traditions, either as a B&B or a home, of simple grace, peace and harmony.

viva las vegas

Last month Dave and I went to Las Vegas to celebrate our first anniversary (yay, us!). Dave, obviously if you know him, spends a lot of time in Vegas. But I haven’t been there since I was abuot nine years old, and I remember very little of that trip.

We had a beautiful room at the Bellagio and in many ways, that room (and the awesome room service breakfast) was my favorite part of the trip. We were upgraded to a fountain view room and it was a terrific view all around. The fountains play most of the day on a set schedule, set to music. It’s kind of neat. Like the long-gone and much lamented Kahunaville restaurant in the Walden Galleria Mall (Buffalo peeps will know what I mean), times a thousand. I tried taking video and kept having snafus, but this one’s not bad — you just see my finger over the lens for, like, half a second.

DSC02216The Bellagio is really pretty. There’s this neat conservatory they change with the seasons — it was set for Autumn when we were there. The lobby has this really neat chandelier sculpture, Fiori di Como, but Dale Chihuly. There’s also what is reportedly a very nice art gallery, but it was closed in preparation for an exhibit of Fabregé eggs. This was a little heartbreaking for me. I’ve got a thing for Fabregé eggs. Their history is fascinating, and since there are so few of them, and most in private collection, a traveling exhibit like this is a big deal. And I missed it by four days. Grrr.

DSC02221There are a lot of great restaurants in Vegas. We had a beautiful fancy wonderful dinner at Jasmine, also at the Bellagio. And I was tickled to learn that the burger place Dave took me to is Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar. I’ve watched enough Top Chef to be a big Hubert Keller fan.

I haven’t mentioned much about the casinos, which is because I don’t gamble or have any interest in gambling. I sat down at one slot machine just to try it, and then had to yell at Dave not to put $20 in it — what a waste! A dollar was more than enough. I found the whole thing kind of lackluster. The gambling areas of the casinos are a lot less nice than you see them on TV — they’re crowded. And SMOKY.

I used to smoke. I quit years ago. It was really, really, really hard to do, so anyone trying to quit and struggling has my sympathy, no question. But I kind of thought a lot of people had quit. I mean, I don’t see that many people smoking anymore, out and about. But apparently all the people that still smoke are in Las Vegas. All of them. And all of them smoking all the time. Everywhere. Casino, outside, inside, at the pool, in the halls, in the elevators, even. It’s kind of gross, to put it mildly. And the smell seeped everywhere, into hallways and under doors. I bought a big thing of Febreeze and sprayed our room with it a couple times a day.

We took the bus tour around the city, though, and got to see a bunch of the other hotels. The Venetian is nice but the gondoliers are really cheesy. Paris has a great breakfast buffet. I liked Circus Circus, which Dave tells me isn’t on many other people’s best-of-Vegas lists; I thought it seemed a little friendlier and not quite as avaricious as the other casinos.

Vegas was fun, and in my humble opinion I make a pretty cheap date there, since I don’t drink or gamble. I’d like to go back, but I don’t ever think the Strip will ever hold the same appeal for me as it does for others. I was just there for the food. And the fountains.

far above cayuga’s waters

I was in Ithaca for my 20th college reunion this past weekend, but only accidentally. We had already planned a trip to our favorite B&B in the Finger Lakes when I realized we’d be in the area at the same time as Cornell’s Reunion Weekend.  I didn’t officially attend, having too many other plans and things we wanted to do, but since we were there we drove through campus (well, where we could — there were roads closed for construction, which is always true), had lunch in Collegetown, and visited the dorm.

Katie and Streaker in close proximity.

Katie and Streaker in rare close proximity.

Risley was hosting the Class of 2004, so we were able to slip inside and, unabashedly, sneak past the now-keycard-entry-only upper floors. I wanted to show Dave the place I’d been talking about for so long, the first floor, Cowcliffes, the CLR (um, where’s the Persian rug that was in the CLR?!), Dining. I wished we could see Risley Theatre, but it was locked up tight, of course, as was Tammany. So we went down 2nd Lost where I’d once lived and visited Karin’s amazing Muppet murals for the first time in years.

That's me with Superman on my shoulder. It's a long story.

That’s me with Superman on my shoulder. It’s a long story.

Then we swung by the 2ndfloor mural of Fall of 1990 residents and I remembered far fewer names than the last time I’d been there. Lastly, we headed to my last and favorite old home at Risley, 352, up on the 3rd floor where Streaker and Katie once roamed, where fondue parties were held, where Darielle used to fall asleep in the shower, and where Paula and I searched for lost catnip mousies.

It’s fun to peek in the old stomping grounds every once in a grand while, but I try not to get too nostalgic about it. Those were some great years, but mostly because of the people I shared them with. The people and I have moved on elsewhere, and the building belongs to two decades’ worth of others who’ve come after me now (as well as those who came before). I hope they enjoyed living there as much as I did.

our nation’s capital

IMG_2094

We’d been told it was too late for cherry blossoms, but there were lots of trees still in bloom.

For my birthday this year, my very nice husband took me to Washington, D.C. I’d never been there. Somehow I missed the 8th grade trip that every kid apparently takes (and, given that I attended three different schools in that year, it’s not all that surprising). It’s only about a five hour drive away from us here and we had a great time.

IMG_2144We stayed at a nice if quirky hotel, The Churchill. It’s up near Dupont Circle and our room was very nice. I picked it for its quirkiness — sometimes I get zoned out by corporate chain hotels — so I can’t complain too much about the air conditioning that blew hot air or the long narrow bathroom that felt like a maze. Our window opened wide to a fresh cool breeze and the water pressure was good. It worked out fine.

The Churchill was also right across the street from the Washington Hilton where we would pick up our Big Bus tour each day. It also just happened to be where Reagan was shot in 1981. Dave looked up the footage on YouTube and found the exact spot the Secret Service pinned Hinkley up against a wall, which was cool if you’re history dorks like us.

IMG_2148The Big Bus tour is a double-decker bus tour with numerous loops that will take you around the city. We’ve taken similar tours in New York and Boston and we’re big fans. I can’t do as much walking as I’d like to but this way, we get around to everything we want. You can get off at any stop or you can just view sites from the bus (which I cannot enough stress the beauty of in Manhattan, especially — you get to stay off the streets, away from the dirt, away from annoying people, and often have a better view above all the traffic). If the weather’s nice (which it gloriously was, this trip) you get to enjoy riding around outside all day. We had a two-day pass for DC and covered the whole city, all the memorials, Arlington, the National Cathedral, lots of Georgetown, the White House, the Capitol Building, and so on.

IMG_2103We spent most of our time off the bus at the Lincoln Memorial; that’s the one I most wanted to see. It was a lot of walking but worth it. It really is something, standing in that beautiful building and looking at that incredibly detailed and downright lifelike sculpture. There are crowds of people there all the time, but the throng is always in motion and you can walk right up to Lincoln and say hello. (He doesn’t respond, but it’s still nice to be friendly.) And as you leave and walk back down the steps you have the grand view of the National Mall before you. I felt a little like Forrest Gump, but Jenny or no Jenny, nothing in the world would have induced me to run into that murky water.

The first night we ate at a place called 1789, a small upscale restaurant with the snootiest of French waiters. I asked for the horseradish sauce (offered in the menu!) for my steak and he sniffed and said, with a disapproving shrug of his shoulders, “If you like.” He was so disdainful, it was actually kind of fun. We had a more congenial dinner at an Italian bistro on the second night, and we also had lunch at Good Stuff Eatery, a burger place owned by Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef. I got the Prez Obama Burger; it was yummy. The milkshakes are good, too.

"Jenny, I'm glad we were here together in our nation's capital."

“Jenny, I’m glad we were here together in our nation’s capital.”

What we didn’t do: we didn’t visit any museums. On one hand we sort of wanted to, especially the National Air and Space Museum, the Newseum, and the National Archives. Those would have been amazing, but it was just too nice out — the weather was so gorgeous, and after the long cold winter, we just couldn’t bear to give it up to spend the days inside. I mean, just looking at the line at the National Archives (to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, I assume) was a big deterrent — we could’ve spent the entire day just standing in that. There are amazing treasures in the museums of DC, I know, but maybe that’s a focus for another trip. For this one, we just enjoyed the city.

All in all, it was a great birthday present and a fun trip. Visit over, the drive home was quick and included a stop at Wegmans. Who could ask for anything more?

New York state of mind

300px-I_Love_New_York.svgI’ve been going to visit New York City for years, since my friend Amy moved there (or in the vicinity) ages ago. And I like the city. It can be fun. Living near it myself, now, there’s still a lot I enjoy. Last weekend, we saw Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan in Waiting for Godot. It was, in a word, thrilling — just to be there, just to be able to be there. Exciting things happen in New York, and living close by means I can see them, when I want to.

Having said that,it’s a little silly the way Hollywood likes to treat NYC, at least when it comes to lighter fare. All too often the city is depicted as some kind of jolly Mary Poppins-esque wonderland. In reality, the subways are not well-lit and charming. The streets are not that clean. Sometimes there’s a smell. Well, all the time. There’s always construction, there’s always traffic, and the sun sets in mid-afternoon. I mean, sure, sometimes they show us the grittier side.  Taxi Driver is impeccably harsh, for example. Big shows Tom Hanks in that scary motel room. I’d also give good credit to Midnight Cowboy, Fame, and even Tootsie. But then there’s the brighter side of the street, apparently.

In When Harry Met Sally, everyone’s apartment is the size of the Met; it’s often adorably fall or the holidays, and the worst that can be said is that buying a Christmas tree for yourself is a fate worse than death. In The Object of My Affection,  a lovely Brooklyn brownstone is “slumming it”, and showing that you want to “escape the Hamptons” is proof you still have a soul. Serendipity started a run on not just old copies of Love in the Time of Cholera but also the restaurant from which the movie got its name, as long as you don’t dwell on how many times they’ve been closed down for rat infestations. I can excuse a movie like The Devil Wears Prada because it takes place entirely in the world of fashionistas, but all the other romcoms set in the Big Apple have the same, nauseating… sameness.  27 Dresses presents us with a city lacking any ethnicity whatsoever (except for one young boy, and they make sure you know it) and in 13 Going on 30, the sun always shines and there’s a photo shoot waiting to happen anywhere. Little Black Book, Maid in Manhattan, Made of Honor, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Sweet Home Alabama, Stepmom, and on and on. Everyone has an exciting job. Everyone has an unrealistically huge apartment. And the city is so damn picturesque you can barely resist packing up your worldly belongings and moving there immediately. The crowning achievement of Hollywood’s New York has got to be You’ve Got Mail, a movie that has charming baked right in with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in the lead roles. Here, New York is one giant street fair, filled with lovely (though possibly soon to be out of business) shops, literary parties, and friends singing Austrian folk songs together at Christmas.

There are a lot of great movies set in New York City. This list has some great examples to offer, culminating in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. Another personal favorite of mine is The Royal Tenenbaums, which is set in an odd, strangely archaic present-day New York that remains, weirdly enough, entirely recognizable. And it must be confessed that I enjoy the fluffier offerings on their own merit, so to speak. But if you’ve never been to the city before and those are your entire frame of reference, just be warned that you won’t find the subway to be nearly as quaint as you’ve been led to expect.

sea ya real soon

I cried when we left for our honeymoon (I hate leaving the cats). I cried when it was over. Apparently, I cry at endings and goodbyes of any kind. And ending our honeymoon was sad, because it was really wonderful.

IMG_0038I’ve never been on a cruise ship of any kind before, or been to the Caribbean, or even been to Florida. This trip would’ve been a big deal for all of those “firsts”, but this was the honeymoon we’d been planning for over a year, cruising on the Disney Fantasy to the Eastern Caribbean islands. Dave and I were so excited. We flew down the day before and stayed at the Hyatt at the Orlando Airport, which is weird but convenient. In the morning we took the Magical Express to the cruise terminal, and soon we were off.

My cousin Lori gave us Bride Minnie and Groom Mickey hats for a shower gift and we wore these on the first day of the cruise… and it felt like EVERYONE on the boat knew us, as a result. People were so nice and congratulated us all week long, and the crew, of course, made sure we got special treatment and enjoyed every minute of our honeymoon. And hey, a couple we met even got engaged on the cruise (congrats, Brittany & Doug!), so there must have been something romantic in the air all around.

DSCN5531Our stateroom was terrific. Pretty roomy for a cruise ship, comfortable, a veranda to look out, and a nice stateroom attendant to tidy everything up twice a day. I didn’t make a bed, do laundry, cook or wash a dish all week. It was so relaxing. And as for the food, the entire week was fine dining every night. Disney does something called rotational dining, so you eat in different onboard restaurants every night, but your servers go with you. Our servers were Sasa and Gede. Dave warned me that by the end of the week you feel sad having to leave them, and he’s right — I got all weepy. They take such good care of you and make it all a little home away from home. I’m never good with hotels — I get creeped out even in nice ones, thinking about all the people who’ve stayed there, some sad and alone, it gets me depressed. But the ship was warm and friendly and just like living in our own little floating neighborhood.

DCL1My favorite restaurant on the Fantasy is “Enchanted Garden”. Ever since we started planning the trip, I wanted to sit in one of the few banquette “teacups” in the front of the room. I assume these are usually reserved for VIPs or concierge-level guests, but Dave had put in a request for one since it was our honeymoon, and Disney accommodated us — so we got to sit in our “teacup” every time we dined there. So nice! I also liked “Royal Court”, and especially because our night there happened to coincide with the ship’s formal night. Any reason to wear my wedding tiara again is much appreciated.

There was a lot to do on the ship. We saw characters — princesses, Donald, Mickey and Woody from Toy Story:

DCL2

I hugged him and told him I’d seen all his movies.

We went to a drawing lesson, saw several live shows, went to the movies, watched football in the sports pub. Disney Cruise Line has the only fireworks at sea, and we had a great seat for the show on Pirate Night. Dave rode the Aquaduck:

and we did very little shopping, aside from a souvenir or two, but we had fun window-shopping in the stores. I did break my “no more stuffed animals” rule, but just this once. It was a special occasion, after all.

IMG_1946We spent a lot of time at the pool. The “Quiet Cove” adult pool was always heated and comfortable and never really too crowded; it’s empty in this picture but some days, especially the at-sea ones, were a lot busier, but it was always friendly and fun. I confess I may have enjoyed it more than some for another reason: the center area was 5 feet, 5 inches deep… too much for a lot of folks to linger in, but just fine for 5’10” me. Being tall sometimes helps.

IMG_1955We also very much enjoyed our stop at St. Thomas. We took an excursion on a catamaran sail to the aptly-named Honeymoon Beach on St. John, and it was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect and the sailing was every bit as fun as I hoped it would be. The beach was clean and blue and white. Dave snorkeled and I played in the waves until it was time to sail back to the ship. Beautiful day.

All in all it was everything we could have possibly wished for in a honeymoon. At the end of the week, I was thrilled to be going back home to my kitties, but sadder than I could have imagined to say goodbye to our new floating home. Mickey doesn’t say good-bye, though: he just says “Sea Ya Real Soon”, so that’s how we’ll leave it… until our next cruise, whenever that is. (Next time, Alaska!)

thank you, JetBlue

In April of this year, Dave booked his ticket to fly to Buffalo on October 26, for our wedding two weeks later. That’s the day I’ve been counting down to and it’s here and I couldn’t be happier — and I’d like to thank JetBlue for a favor that made our day just a little more special.

Jet_BlueSince this would be Dave’s last flight to me, I wanted to do something special for him. So I wrote JetBlue an email and explained everything to them — our back-and-forth long distance relationship, all three+ years of it, with all but a bare few of those flights on JetBlue. I told them how I’d learned the specifications of the aircraft that make the NYC/Buffalo run, and that my favorite seat was 3A and then all of Dave’s favorite things about flying with them (DirecTV!). I told them about our last flight to each other and asked if they could do something for him, just a little gesture. And they responded very courteously and said they would do their best — they can’t guarantee anything, due to other priorities, but they really do everything they can.

And it worked! Before takeoff, the pilot came and said hello (his name was Dave too!) and asked if this was a special flight, and if Dave was getting married. Dave was surprised at being asked and said yes (he texted me, “Did you call JB?!” and I admitted I had) and they chatted a bit. And that was great in itself, but that was just the start — then as they were taxiing, they congratulated Dave in the in-flight announcement before takeoff, told everyone on the plane, people clapped, Dave got lots of congratulations, and, I hope, felt special and wonderful, which he is.

So thanks, JetBlue. I mean it. I didn’t ask for much but that didn’t mean you had to do anything, and you came through in a very nice, big way. Very classy, and very appreciated. 🙂