Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cruise Ship Surprises

If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you might notice the lovely little surprises that you might find during your time on the boat. Of course there is the luxury of having your bed made and turned down, a freshly cleaned shower each day and all of your meals prepared for you, but there is the few small surprises that help to bring that smile up just a bit further on your face.

One of my personal favorites is the towel animals that greet you in the evenings (usually after dinner). These little white creations can include a monkey, elephant, stingray, swan or even a frog! Carnival Cruise Ships often like to offer classes to show guests how they can recreate these animals at home. Although I’ve never taken one of these classes, I can guarantee that no matter how hard you try, don’t get your hopes up too much. Your towel animals will doubtfully look as good as the ones your stewards make each night.

To make the cruise ship vacation even better, walking into your bathroom to find a small bowl full of sample size toiletries can always bring a smile to my face. Placed in this bundle of fun can be a variety of things. I’ve brought home disposable razors (the much better brand razors), Tylenol PM, Pepcid (that will more than likely be used during your trip because of all the food you will eat) and even maybe some sweet treats to satisfy that sweet tooth most of us have.

Finally, each night, along with your towel animal, you will also find your bed turned down, a “Carnival Caper” (if you travel Carnival that is) and an appropriately placed chocolate square lying on your pillow. Unfortunately for me, eating solid chocolate gives me a migraine so I have to pass mine off to my sister who is happy to take it off my hands. However, it is a very sweet gesture from the cabin stewards to make sure you have something sweet to end your night.

So my friends, if you’ve read my previous posts about cruising, you should know by now that taking a cruise is an excellent way to travel (at least through the Caribbean). The food, the surprises and the excursions should be enough to persuade you to go; however, if you are still not convinced, stay tuned because I have much more to tell you about cruising vacations.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Cannot Tell a Lie

For those who have seen Roman Holiday, you might recall the scene with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck where they make their way down to the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. There, Peck tells Hepburn of the ancient Roman legend, one that says whoever places their hand inside “La Bocca della Verita” (The Mouth of Truth), if they are believed to be lying, they will lose their hand. Hesitant, Hepburn is too afraid to test the ancient myth.

My sister at The Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth lives in Rome and many who visit often wonder if the legend holds true. When my sister and I visited Rome, we were among many tourists, who visited the large, concrete mask. Believed to represent a river God, its mouth and eyes are open, waiting for the next liar to insert their precious hand. 

Me braving the mighty Mouth
If you will notice in the photos, neither my sister nor I were willing to stick our whole hand into its mouth, hoping that if the legend still existed, we may just lose a few fingers. All joking aside, these concrete masks can be found in various parts of Europe. While visiting Venice, we spotted a much smaller version with a much different design and face.

Mouth of Truth in Venice, Italy
Happy to report that my hands are both still fully functional and intact, one cannot help but feel like Audrey Hepburn when approaching the Mouth of Truth. Let’s just say I’m glad I hadn’t told a lie before sticking my hand in its mouth.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today…

As I am sure many other bloggers are devoting this day to remembering 9/11, I too find it fitting to take this time and devote this post to remembering what happened 10 years ago today.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.” – President John F. Kennedy

However you wish to interpret this quote, we must all agree that it has taken the bravery and sacrifice of America’s heroes to keep this country free and safe. Unfortunately, on September 11, 2001, that safety we all felt was shaken by outside forces. While many of us paused to grieve and take in the events that were happening before us, police officers and firefighters responded immediately, rushing towards the danger and debris while everyone else ran as far away from the rubble as they could.

While our parents recall where they were when they heard President Kennedy was shot, I remember where I was and how I felt on September 11, 2001. Walking into my history class, my junior year of high school, I noticed my teacher had the TV on and before me was a burning building in New York City. Telling us that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center, it was the belief of the media that this was some horrific accident. Sitting in my seat, my friend and I were glued to the TV screen. I remember saying “oh my gosh, look at that plane. It’s going to hit the other tower!” Sure enough, the next thing I witnessed was that very plane flying directly into the second tower, resulting in a ball of flames; it was then realized that this was a terrorist attack on our country.

The photos, images, video that we all have seen are some of the most horrific things I have ever seen. To see and hear the screams and cries, to listen to the phone recordings of those making their last phone calls home to their loved ones…I pray that we as a nation will never face such horror again.

In the 10 years since 9/11 our country has traveled a rocky path. In the beginning we all stood united together and now, we couldn’t be more at odds with each other. No matter what your political or religious affiliations may be, let us all stand united once more on this day and not only remember those who lost their lives that day, but remember and recognize those who saved and rescued those from the rubble. And let us not forget to give thanks to the men and women of this brave and beautiful country, who continue to put their lives on the line for us each day.

To all of our brave soldiers, firefighters, police officers and EMTs…God Bless You and your service to this country. And to all of those who lost loved ones that fateful day…may you find peace and comfort in knowing that the world stands with you and will never forget what happened on September 11, 2001.

May freedom and liberty continue to prevail in this country now and forever.

This was the actual flag that was flown at Ground Zero just days after the 9/11 attacks. Touring the country, it came to my hometown. To see its beauty and glory flying high above the ground, it was a humbling feeling to stand before this mighty flag. Her colors will never run and may we all be proud to call ourselves Americans.