Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/21

Bargains Bargains Bargains

Although we had not thought of booking a transatlantic this spring, lo and behold an email arrives from Princess and the price was too good to pass up.  Princess informed us of a special price of $699 for a 16 day transatlantic cruise that leaves on April 19th.  The cruise leaves Ft Lauderdale, with stops in Madeira, Rome, Livorno, Genoa, Sardinia, Gibraltar  and Monte Carlo before arriving in Barcelona.  The flight back from Barcelona was actually as much as the cruise, but even with the flight it is less than $100 per day which is kind of our guideline.  As always we are excited about it and now before we have recovered from the Amazon, we will be off again.  California next week and then getting ready for the cruise, are we ever home?

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/17

A Day at Epcot

The annual Spring Flower and Garden Festival is going on at Epcot in Orlando.  Because we are Florida residents we are able to purchase a reasonable annual pass to all of Disney World Parks in Florida.  The annual pass is great for people like us who love visiting all the parks.

The spring flower and garden festival brings colors and topiaries to all of Epcot and some of them are truly outstanding.

We arrived about noon and went to guest services and made reservations at the French Restaurant, one of our favorites. for 1:30.  We walked around in amazement as we admired the wonderful topiaries of most of the Disney characters.

For lunch we also have their fixe price menu which includes French onion soup, a wonderful sandwich and a great dessert, and as usual it was great.

We were surprised at how busy the park was, with half the people being kids and college students, but we finally realized that it was spring break time.  Again it was a wonderful day and as always we look forward to our next visit.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Summary of Amazon 2010

Now that we are home, and looking back on our Amazon trip, several things stood out about the trip. First, we love the Royal Princess and small ship cruising. We loved not waiting in line for anything, getting up close and personal with the cruise staff and sitting with Captain Ivan Jerman at the Captains lunch. Our entertainment on board was excellent, but as always, a magician who does the same tricks. We got to know most of the dancers quite well, our favorite being Natasha the dance captain from Sydney, Australia. We were again fortunate with good table mates and outstanding trivia partners.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was an idea that Judy came up with before we left. We had been on basically this same trip three years ago and as always we had taken a ton of pictures and we were again going back to the village of Boca Da Valaria. Boca is a small village of about 75-100 people that live along the Amazon in very small houses on stilts to stay above the rising water of the Amazon. Before we left we printed up about 30 of the pictures that we had taken of families and kids in this village. When we stopped there this time we went back to the same houses and gave them to the families and of course to the kids we could find. They were all thrilled. And again while we were there we took more pictures, had them printed up on the ship and took them back to the village again on our way home. Again, we got the same reaction, they loved them, especially the two girls that posed for Judy.
Another highlight, THIS TIME I CAUGHT A PIRANAH!!!

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Brazil Requirements

I just wanted to jot down a few things about visiting Brazil.  First you need a visa.  You can get a visa by using a surrogate company, these are people that you pay to travel to a Brazilian embassy and get the visa for you.  These are typically expensive ($300 or more) and take time.  Brazil sets up their fees to match what the country of residence charges Brazilian citizens, which in the case of the United States is $100.  We personally visited the Brazilian Embassy in Miami, dropped our passports off one day, and were able to pick up our visa and passports the next morning, total coast $100 each.  The visa is good for five years.  Another requirement for visiting Brazil is a yellow fever shot.  This can be gotten from your local doctor or in our case from the Dept of Health.  This shot is good for ten years.   If you are on a cruise ship that stops in Brazil and have failed to get the visa, they will not let you onboard.  The yellow fever shot can normally be gotten onboard, but should not be counted on.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Our next exciting Cruise

Well, we have booked our next cruise, partly because of the great deal and partly because we loved it the first time we were there.
We have booked a 28 day round trip cruise a thousand miles up the Amazon on the Royal Princess. This will be our first time on a small Princess ship. The Royal Princess holds about 675 people. We have booked an outside cabin for the first time in a long time, because the rate was the same as an inside. We did find out just how good being a past passenger of Princess gets you great rates. A friend indicated an interest to go on the same cruise with us, when they tried to book the same as we did, it was fifty percent higher and because of that decided not to go. When we get closer to our departure date of January 30th, we will start a separate blog for the trip.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Home Again

Thinking back at twenty days aboard the Ruby Princess made us just want to stay on. The two new ports of Bonair and Antigua were nice for us and we enjoyed ourselves at both of them. The Ruby Princess is a beautiful ship with exciting new production shows. We especially enjoyed “Once Upon A Dream” that was a multi-media presentation. As usual the food was excellent, of course always liking some dishes more than others. We love the International cafe on Deck 5 with its bakery and coffee shop and street entertainers. As always we met wonderful people. Our experience on the Cruise Connection (the bus that took us to and from the port) was great going down, but because of a bad driver that had to be replaced on the way back that delayed us for almost three hours was not so good. Better safe than sorry. We will probably take the bus again if it is merited. Our next cruise, not booked yet, but will surely book one soon. We are looking at doing the Amazon again and then the Greek Isles for the second time.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

The Ruby Princess

We are currently on the second leg of our twenty day back to back cruise. We are having a wonderful time and really enjoying the Ruby Princess. We have not been on the Ruby Princess in the past but had been on its sister ship, the Emerald Princess. We have been amazed at the quality of the production shows on this Ship. We were told that they were exclusive to the Ruby and we are loving them. We have had three new shows that we have not seen before and at least two of them are the best we have ever seen on a cruise. One show that is really good is a production show called “Once Upon A Dream” which is a multimedia and visual presentation to top anything we have seen on cruise ships with outstanding dancing and singing and visual delights. Also when we departed from Ft Lauderdale, we seen the new Royal Caribbean ship, the Oasis of the Seas which is so huge it dwarfs everything else on the docks. It holds 6000 passengers, and even though we would probably like to try it, just to see it, too many people for me.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Getting Ready Again

Well, we are getting ready to leave on Saturday Nov 14 to catch the Ruby Princess in Ft Lauderdale for twenty days in the Caribbean. This is the first time that we will be taking a bus called “The Cruise Connection” from Leesburg to Port Everglades. It was recommended by our travel agent and is priced well at 65 dollars per person round trip. We will try and post from each port and post some pictures as well.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Our Next Cruise

Well, we are no sooner home from the Panama Canal and now we have booked to back to back Caribbean cruises on the Ruby Princess. The two ten day back to back cruises will get us to Bonaire and Antigua, two islands in the Caribbean that we have not visited. Even though the one on Nov 14 was wait listed we got on the list and it became available the following day. The prices are still really good this fall and is another reason we booked these cruises. This will be our first time on the Ruby Princess and we are looking forward to our time on it. It turns out that our neighbors have booked the same cruise on our second leg and it will be nice to see them on-board, especially since we found out they are trivia players as well.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Panama Canal on the Island Princess

We just returned from our second trip through the Panama Canal and what a treat it was. It was our first cruise on the Island Princess and it didn’t disappoint. The ship was designed to go through the Canal so it is a little longer and a little narrower than some of the larger ships, but its passenger space is extremely good. It has two large showrooms, and the normal run of bars and lounges. Now for a real deal, after returning home we got a brochure from Princess that that showed an inside cabin from Los Angeles to Ft Lauderdale for fifteen days for only $699. We are almost tempted to do it again because we love ship life. I checked the Princess site today, signed in and seen that we have sailed with Princess 348 days, our next cruise will put us over a year. We are looking at doing two ten day back to back cruises in the southern Caribbean in November. We are also looking at a Greek Isles and transatlantic again in the spring.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

A week in Orlando

Before we leave for the west coast and our next cruise, we are spending a week at a timeshare in Orlando. I know it sounds silly but it was a use it or loose it situation. It has turned out well because Steve and Patti are joining us for a couple of days before the go to the cruise ships. We have Yearly Disney Passes (great for Florida Residences) so we will hit all of the parks and even go back for some fireworks in the evening. We are staying at the Visana Sheridan and the large two bedroom apartment is great. Today we pick up Steve and Patti and tomorrow I would suspect there will be some cribbage, some margaritas and some laying by the pool

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Visiting California & Panama Canal Cruise

Well, we have booked our next cruise. It is a 15 day Panama Canal cruise from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale. We will be traveling by Southwest Airlines one way to San Jose to spend about a week with our Daughter and her family. Then we will be joined in San Francisco by some friends here that will be joining us on the cruise and of course when the time comes I will post a link here to our travel blog for that cruise. We booked our usual inside cabin and our friends booked a balcony so we will spend some quality time with a glass of wine on their patio. We booked on the Island Princess and will be our first time on this ship, so we are looking forward to it.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Three Nights in Manhatten

We no longer got home and we were off on another adventure. We arrived home on Friday evening and the next Thursday we were off to spend a few days with Steve (my son) and his family. We then went into Manhattan where we had rooms at the Crown Plaza at Times Square. The best part of this Hotel was its location and the fact that three nights were free. Earlier this year on our first road trip, Holiday Inn had a promotion of stay two nights and get one free. Crown Plaza is part of the Holiday Inn Chain and we had earned the maximum of four nights and we booked them here. Pretty nice, $300 rooms for staying twice in $100 rooms. While in New York we went to the half price ticket booth and got tickets for “Blythe Spirit” starring Angela Lansbury and several other stars. We also got free tickets and went to a Late show with David Letterman taping. We spent one day doing a tour of New York, including an uptown, downtown and evening tour. We then went down the Jersey shore for the Wedding of Judy’s Niece Kim and her Fiance Jose. The Wedding took place in a small chapel in one of the state parks and the reception on the shore. Our Congratulations to Kim and Jose. Now we are home for about another month before our next couple of adventures. We are spending a week close by in Orlando at a time share and then in September, out to visit Weston, Paige and Eric in California and then onto the Island Princess with some good friends for a 15 day cruise through the Panama Cana

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Summary of our Ultimate Road Trip

To summarize this trip would put it into two parts. The first part was the beauty of the southwest. Sedona, Arizona is a very unique and colorful place with its red canyons and red rocks and the only place in the world where the arches at McDonalds are not gold. A local ordinance prohibits gold from being used as a color in downtown Sedona so the arches there are a shade of violet. Tombstone is very campy but a lot of fun and the locals go out of their way to make sure you have a great time. Yosemite has always been one of our favorites and we sure weren’t let down upon our return. It was nice to go back to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and the Black Hills. The visits with kids and grandkids are always great. The new experiences included Door County, Upper Michigan and Frankenmuth. We loved Mackinac Island and were surprised at how many interesting things were available to see at the Henry Ford Museum. The Trip was great, I got to do it with my wife and best friend (both of them are Judy) and along with no car problems and using Jill (our GPS) a great time was had, and even though we have said that it will probably be our last long road trip, I guess I wouldn’t count on it.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

National Parks

We have spent the last ten days or so going through Yosemite Park, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. Our national parks are wonderful, beautiful and accessible. As a senior the best value for getting into the parks is a ten dollar lifetime senior pass. This pass lets everyone in the car enter all national parks. The views in Yosemite are amazing with waterfalls and majestic vistas. Of course the Tetons stand out in their snow covered peaks. Yellowstone with its wildlife makes you keep your eyes peeled at all times. Mount Rushmore with all of its viewing places upgraded is also enduring. Try the national parks and enjoy

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Two Days in Sedona

We spent two days in Sedona and are now thinking of trading our timeshare for something there.  We loved the quaintness of the community, the great restaurants and the fantastic view.  First we had a good hotel, Sedona Inn and Suites where we met a wonderful concierge when we checked in and she pointed us to the things to see that afternoon.    We went to Cathedral park to get a good look at Cathedral Rock and spent sundown at the Sedona Airport with lots of people overlooking Sedona while the sun set.  The red rock formations in around Sedona are mesmerizing and I am sure we took at least 500 pictures over the two days.  We found several wonderful restaurants and of course Judy had to shop in the quaint shops for souvenirs. We will look forward to our next visit to Sedona with great enthusiasm.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Four Days in Texas

Well, we are a week into our ultimate road trip for 2009 and we have already enjoyed the beaches of the Panhandle of Florida, the wonders of the French Quarter in New Orleans, but also four days in Texas.  Neither Judy or I had spent much time in the heart of Texas, but on this trip we did and really enjoyed it.  We visited with friends in Houston and went to the Battleship Texas, Visited the LBJ Library in Austin, which I believe is one of the best tourist values available, it was not only free but extremely interesting.  We visited the Alamo in San Antonio and extremely enjoyed the River Walk their as well.  We will be leaving Texas today heading for Tombstone, AZ, but will have wonderful memories of Texas and the friendly people we met there.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Ultimate Road Trip 2009

Well, I think we have decided on a date to leave on our ultimate road trip for 2009. If things work our right we will be on our way either on Saturday or Sunday of this week. This trip will take us clockwise around the country including stops in New Orleans, San Antonio, Santa Fe, Sedona, Los Angeles, San Jose, Yellowstone, The Black Hills, Rochester, Door county in Wisconsin and several stops in Michigan before heading home in about six weeks. Who knows how many additional stops along the way because Judy always finds interesting places for us to visit. We are also looking forward to seeing grandchildren (Weston, Nicole and Christina) and family along the way. As usual we will take hundreds (maybe thousands) of pictures and we will post as many as we can. Again we are looking forward to this trip, and a planned long cruise in the fall (destination still up in the air) and a couple more fun things like a nieces wedding in July and a timeshare stay somewhere and a another trip to the West coast to see Weston at Christmas time. Whew, gonna be a busy few months.

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Home and planning another trip

We got home on Saturday,  and have been lazy the last couple of days but the planning has started for our next road trip.  This trip will last about 5 weeks, maybe more and take us from Florida through New Orleans, San Antonio, Santa Fe, Sedona, Los Angeles, San Jose, Yellowstone Park, Black Hills of South Dakota, Rochester, Minn., Door County in Wisconsin and through Upper Michigan and then Home.  We will see a Grandson in San Jose and Grandchildren in Rochester.  We know that there will be lots of unscheduled stop along the way, not sure what they will be yet, but do know we will find something interesting.  Judy uses Microsoft Streets and Trips to layout our tentative route, here is a link to it.  Microsoft Streets and Trips As always we are very excited about getting back on the road again

Posted by: jcjlkrebs | 2010/03/09

Churchill Downs

We know that the Derby was run last week, but definitely wanted to see Churchill Downs.  We found the place quite amazing and if you are not a bettor, a real value.  Free parking starts it all off with a  cart to take you to the main gate.  For Seniors entrance the fee is $1.  We bought a program for $2 and that is all we needed to spend, we did have some lunch which was reasonable and we did place three $2 bets of which one was a winner.  We were able to get up close and personal to the horses and jockeys both in the paddock and the winners circle.  We spent all day there and had a wonderful time.  On the day we were there it was very quiet and empty but we still had fun people watching and all inquires to the staff were met with quick and smiley response.  I would recommend Churchill Downs as a day trip anytime whether you gamble or not.

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