TRAVEL THERE: WHO KNEW SCOTTSDALE HAD A WATERFRONT?
Across the street from Fashion Square was a mixed use complex project. My husband the real estate photographer wanted to go take a look. Once across the street we saw signs pointing the way to the Waterfront Wine and Art Festival. I was thrilled. It had been on my wish list, but I didn’t have a clue where there was a waterfront was in Scottsdale or Phoenix. Having happened upon it without a commitment to be anywhere at any particular time, we decided to check our the art festival.
Admission With and Without Wine
Following the signs we wandered around until we found the Waterfront. It cost only $3 a person to get in, if you didn’t want wine. Bill didn’t want wine. Had this been a girl’s trip, Deb and I would have ponied up the extra $10 for wine tasting, but I was happy enough to enjoy the art sans the tasting. What an entertainment bargain it proved to be!
This was a completely different show than the Celebration of Fine Art we attended a few days before. Like the Celebration, this was a juried show, but the jury for the Celebration was a lot tougher. Instead of a studio setting, this was more of a retail opportunity with lots of hopeful artisans lurking at the edge of their awning. In spite of the lurking artists, we enjoyed the visit.
Worth the Time
Most of the wine was on one side of the canal and most of the art was on the other. Shortly after we arrived we made our way to the artsy side. I will confess, while most of the pieces on display were interesting, they didn’t pass the I’d-hang-it-on-my-wall test. We don’t collect art. We can’t afford to. But often we stand in a gallery or at a festival longing to take something off the wall and carry it home with us. That happened a lot at the Celebration of Fine Art. Not so much at the Waterfront Wine and Art Festival.
Periodically, there would be musical acts or various things to eat or drink. We were still very full from our late morning breakfast buffet, so we weren’t interested in the comestibles, but the entertainment was appreciated. This violinist was among our favorites. Bill took many pictures trying to capture her pure enjoyment of her own music. This is as close as he got.
After a sojourn at the festival, it was time to satisfy another of Bill’s requests. Yes, we made a potty stop at McDonald’s and enjoyed a little hydration break, but that doesn’t count.
Bill wanted to see some desert scenery. There had been plenty at the golf course the day before, but he’d been otherwise occupied. I’d hoped to go to the Desert Botanical Garden, but by the time we were ready to see it, there wasn’t much of the day left, so we doubted we’d get our $15.00 worth. We opted for the McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve. Come back next week and enjoy it with us!
Still going with the flow, I was ready to sacrifice the Phoenix Friday Art Walk (#phxfridays) for the sake of harmony, but Bill proved he was up for it. We changed into something more casual and headed for downtown Phoenix. By the time we arrived, things were going strong. The Phoenix Museum of Art seemed to be the epicenter of activity, but parking there was an impossibility, so we began to look for something else. We did find an office building that allowed us to park and it really wasn’t far from the museum, but we were like the only people parking there. Worse case scenario, it was a rent car and none of our belongings were in it, so if they stole it, fine!
Joining the Hordes
We discovered we were about a block from the museum, which meant we were soon part of the insanity of Art Walk. We noted most of the participants were decades younger than us, but we did not let that deter us from our opportunity for adventure. The museum, which has free admission on Fridays and was the focus of my attention, had ridiculous lines, so with little in the way of info, we hopped aboard one of the very full free trolleys and we were off into another world.
Both sides of the street were filled with revelers and the noise level was wild. Bill pulled me off the trolley and we tried to get our bearings, but it was sort of what I think an acid trip might be similar to. We were sharing the crowded sidewalk with people who didn’t look like us. Hair was in every shape and color, except what we might consider normal. Everyone was tattooed and pierced. They wore clothes I’d probably throw away if I found them in my closet. There was pushing and shoving in every direction, but there was no clear indication of which way one should head.
I did mention the noise, right? It was Bill who pointed out, that in the immediate area where we were standing, five different bands were vying for the crowd’s attention. While we were standing next to five bands, if we looked in any directions, we could see, not far down the sidewalk, crowds flowed around even more bands. The result, cacophony.
Just about that time, we both needed to visit restroom facilities and by some odd piece of luck we got into a nearby restaurant with minimal hassle. I think the doorman took pity on the senior citizens lost among the millennials. We took care of business and made our way out to the street, heading away from the five bands. We found a sort of alley with various booths set up along the way. The mob seemed less frenetic here and the noise of the various bands was tolerable. We began to stroll along.
Abandoning the Hordes
Though spread more thinly, the denizens of this art vendor alley were of the dread-locked, tattooed and pierced variety of the five band locale. While they looked scary to us, they did seem to be minding their own business, so we entertained ourselves by looking in on the booths. There were some artists selling their wares – nothing we’d hang on our walls, but interesting. The most readily available merchandise seemed to be CBD oil, plus everything and anything made out of hemp. Bill was sure he could smell “hemp”smoke wafting above the crowd.
After about a block, we ran out of booths and it began to look like an area senior citizens would not be welcome or safe, so we made a U-turn and visited the booths on the other side of the alley. When we returned to the sidewalk, a band made of pre-teenagers and their parents, had begun to play headbanger/punk rock (?) at a remarkable volume. Bill wondered what the best way back to the car was. I pointed to a landmark on the skyline and we decided to walk back, instead of trying to find another trolley.
We crossed the street and discovered,what had been an alley on the other side, turned into more of a street. On the street, vendors only took up one side, but they seemed to have pretty much the same merchandise as the previous guys. On the other side of the street was a series of restaurants with outdoor seating – only all patrons looked as if they belonged to biker gangs, so we weren’t at all tempted to sit down for a respite, even though sitting down for a drink sounded like the perfect thing to do.
We kept our eye on the red neon sign we’d recognized earlier and when the street made an abrupt left, we headed right through what seemed to be a park. The art you see on this page was displayed throughout the area and it is huge. After the park was the library. We could no longer see our landmark, but I had my bearings and continued that way.
Suddenly, we were back at the art museum and the lines had disappeared. Our visit was delayed, but I was going to get to take advantage of the free admission. Come back next week and enjoy the museum with us.
TRAVEL THERE: WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT OFFERS UNIQUE ENTERTAINMENT
Remember how I was reeling from lack of sleep when we got to the Westin Kierland Resort, but all the staff was trying to welcome me with more information than I could grasp. Well, I figured I had misunderstood them when they told me I could go hear a bagpiper at the Dream Weaver Canyon on various evenings, but they do in fact have a bagpiper that comes and plays their bagpipe. It was actually pretty cool. Let’s go!
It was almost as hard to quit taking pictures at The Phoenician as it was to say, “No, thank you, we don’t want anymore, tea or dessert.” We backtracked out of the resort through the golf courses and made our way back to the Westin. Along the way we stopped to pick up another gallon of water. You have to stay hydrated in the desert.
The Bagpipes Are Now!
Getting back to the hotel via the grocery store took a little more time than we anticipated, so we screeched into the parking lot and trotted into the hotel, hoping we could find the Dreamweaver Canyon. The canyon is actually a patio outside the hotel and by the time we got there, all the good seating was gone and lo and behold, as advertised, there was a kilted bagpiper entertaining with his bagpipe.
It really was a cool experience, but it was also quite incongruous. The Dreamweaver Canyon area is by a small man made lake beside a golf course. In the lake is modern non-figurative sculpture. There’s also a fire-pit. What that has to do with kilts, Danny Boy and the theme from Outlander beats me.
Since seating was at a premium we found ourselves wandering around taking pictures from every possible angle and then just for the heck of it, we took pictures of each other. I will also admit that while I like bagpipes, I’m really only interested in hearing a song or two. This guy played for what seemed a long time and the more he played, the more people started wandering off to other places, so by the time he quit, there was actually room to take a seat around the firepit.
After the last lonely note had sounded over the fairway, we took a little photo safari around the lobby. We were all done with our photo taking until we walked out the front door and were overwhelmed with the sunset.
You might think we’d already done enough for one day, what with shopping at the Quarter, having tea and the Phoenician and then hearing the bagpipes, but no, the day is not yet over. I was as surprised as you are. Mr. Bill was ready for action and I had done my homework, so as soon as we got back to the room, we reorganized for another adventure and headed to downtown Phoenix for yet another adventure.
Enjoy these photos from our photo safari and then come back next week to enjoy the Phoenix First Friday Art Walk.
Black SUV’s whisked us from the Yacht Club to the Palace. That’s probably the last time I’ll be able to say something like that about my own travels, so perhaps it was worth the splurge. Since we weren’t actually VIP’s, they parked about a block away, near the Cathedral and we strolled over to the palace.
Visiting the Palace
Virtually anyone can make day visits the palace during the summer and fall, as long as it’s not Grand Prix weekend. However, the tourists are shuffled off at closing time. We had after-hours access, which means we went to the same places, just at a different time.
The Grimaldi’s were gracious hosts to us cruisers. We didn’t see any of them, but they gave us the run of the state apartments and provided some very nice young ladies to act as guides. The run of the state apartments did not include taking any pictures, so to see what we saw, you’d have to go to the website. My general impressions were the apartments showed a great amount of good taste, a good bit more than some of the gaudy displays of some state apartments. However, they were at the same time smaller than most I’ve seen before.
For Americans, this palace is almost a must-see, because evidence of our own American fairy tale, Princess Grace of Monaco, is in plain sight. Having just watched a Hallmarkish commoner-meets-and-marries-a-prince movie last night, I know we are still very much in love with the story of this lovely lady.
Before and after the tour we were welcome to take photos of the outside the palace. The red carpets and kneelers are not part of the every day look. They were setting up for some kind of religious ceremony and around the corner at the cathedral there was a lot of activity, so no telling what that was about.
All that was left was to get back into our SUV’s and travel back to the ship. Our day in Monte Carlo was over.
Grabbing a Show and Dinner and a Show
Back on the boat, Deb, Bill and I went to Hype with Marcus Terrell at the Theater. We weren’t much impressed. His greatest asset was volume, but he was surrounded with lots of energetic gyrating dancers. Nothing as fascinating as Hot Summer’s Night we’d seen a day or so ago.
After the show, it was time for dinner and all of us met for dinner in the Cosmopolitan. It was the same menu they had offered for their embarkation lunch. This is the weakness of their dining plan. Sure you have a variety of dining rooms, but once you’ve eaten in one, there’s no reason to go back. That’s probably because they are trying to encourage you to drop a few bucks in their specialty dining rooms, but with all we’d spent already, that wasn’t happening.
Our companions were ready for bed when the meal was over, but Bill and I wandered into the Club and saw an acrobatic show called Mirage. It had some good parts, but their tricks all began to look the same after awhile.
Still not ready to call it a night, I pulled the daily newsletter out of my purse and unfolded it. They had something called the Color the Night White Party happening on the Resort Deck, so we decided to check it out.
I don’t know about you, but I am just about done with the whole White Party thing. Isn’t it time to let that one die a natural death? The Edge was trying to jazz it up some, with a variety of colorful lights, but as you can see, it’s a pretty dead scene. I must not be the only one tired of White Parties.
I think if there had been anything else to do, we might have continued to wander, but it seemed the ship was rolling in its sidewalks – unless you wanted to sit in some bar and rack up some beverage billing, so off we went to bed.
The next day our stop was Cannes. Come back next week and I’ll share my favorite shore excursion with you.
“Mommy, I’m not having any fun anymore!” That’s what I felt like saying, only my mommy wasn’t there. In fact, I lost her several years ago. I thought she’d be so pleased I was getting to visit Florence, but I’d gotten to the point where all really wanted to do was hang out at the pool.
Remember way back at the Boboli Gardens when everyone was hungry and little grumpy. Yeah, well, we’ve been stomping all over the place since then. We’re all drenched in sweat and lots more hungry than we were on the other side of Ponte Vecchio.
Guide lady kept trudging ahead of us, complaining about the heat and waving herself with her “12” sign. The shore excursion I’d been so excited about had turned into a march through Hades. We’re trudging around all these teeny tiny backstreets, sweating like pigs and trying to ignore the grumbling in our stomachs. I’m still mad I didn’t get to see the Boboli Gardens. If we’d gotten lost in this maze, I think we’d still be there. Things were not pretty.
Piazza Santa Croce
Then suddenly we were in familiar surroundings. We were near the spot where the bus had let us off. Sitting at my desk, looking at a map of Florence, I can track the places we went that day. What I can’t figure out is how the guide turned it into such a miserable hike. It’s only about 300 yards from the Piazza della Signoria to the Piazza di Santa Croce. Not much more between Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Pitti. I’m telling you we walked a lot further than three football fields to get from Signoria to Santa Croce. It’s like when you’re in Vegas and you can see the sign for where you are going, so you decide to walk, only to find out it was miles away.
Guide lady cued us up in front of a trattoria. We filed inside and obediently sat where we were told. Finally, we had gotten a break. The food was good. Fresh pasta, a pork dish, potatoes and wine in a wine glass that kept getting filled. For dessert we got panna cotta. Some were disappointed, because tiramisu had been promised, but not being a fan of coffee, panna cotta suited me just fine.
With an attitude adjusted by copious glasses of wine, I was ready to make the most of the rest of my day in Florence. I probably should have visited Santa Croce, but we’d passed a Pinocchio store on our way to the restaurant and several wanted to visit.
According to guide lady, there was supposed to be some sort of demonstration at the galleria next to the trattoria before we boarded the bus. Like good little tourists we lined up for it. Again, I should have gone to Santa Croce, but when your hot and a little sleepy from wine, you don’t always make the best decisions. As you might have guessed, it was a thinly veiled shopping opportunity.
We were all ready to get back to the boat when we boarded the bus. We went back the same way we came and the view hadn’t gotten any better. If you go to Florence, I heartily recommend the Palazzo Pitti, but figure out another way to see it, besides taking the Renaissance Vacation.
Enjoying the Evening
Back on board, Bill and I cleaned up and went to the best entertainment we experienced on board the Edge, Hot Summer’s Night. It was a “Cirque de Soleil” style romp, loosely based on Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream. So very glad we caught it, but sad others missed it.
This was the evening some in our party were having dinner up on the Magic Carpet with the CEO, so it was just Bill, Deb and me, having dinner in the Cyprus Restaurant. Really a nice meal. The others enjoyed theirs, too, so it was a delicious meal for all of us.
After dinner, Bill and I headed down to the theater to see the Love and Marriage Game. Perhaps you remember that Bill and I were contestants in a similar game on the Vision of the Seas back in 2018. I was very glad to be on the other side of the stage this time. I still can’t believe we shared some of our secrets with an entire cruise ship. The Edge version was much the same. They must all go to the same school for this stuff.
Next it was time for bed, because Monaco was the next day.
So, on Friday, I begged you to go to the Dallas Art Fair. I hope you did. It certainly loomed large in our weekend. However, the Fair’s Opening Press Conference was actually Chapter Two. Chapter One played out on Wednesday evening. Come along and I’ll tell you all about it.
Out of the Loop
The Dallas Art Fair just had its 11th event and somehow I was completely out of the loop for the first 10. I’ve been busy, but I thought I was paying better attention than that.
However, I love me some Dallas and I take the drive over the I-30 Bridge quite frequently, usually headed down to the Dallas Arts District. My membership in the Dallas Museum of Art has never wavered. I keep my eye out for Nasher events. So, I’m not sure how I became so disconnected with an event like the Dallas Art Fair.
Back in the Loop
While I may not be as plugged in as I used to be, as a regional blogger, some organizations do keep me in the loop. The DMA, the Perot, Preservation Dallas and the Arboretum all have me on speed dial, figuratively speaking. So, when I got an email from the Cultural Counsel inviting me to an artsy thing in the Design District, it wasn’t exactly a surprise. I checked my calendar and then invited the hubby along.
Happy on All Counts
As principals of a real estate photography company, we are always interested in new construction and new developments. We arrived at River Bend eager to find out exactly what was going on in this new addition to the Dallas Design District. At first glance it was comparable to other business/retail spaces all over the Metroplex. The invitation had mentioned “Late Night Gallery Openings, Clare Woods Book Signing, and SOLUNA Performance.” Galleries we understood, but the rest had to be discovered.
The invitation had not mentioned comestibles at all, but a happy Art Fair associate greeted us and pointed us towards the serving lines. Gladly the choices were not limited to cheese cubes and bad chardonnay. Bill tried a local brewery offering from a series of kegs (I’m dieting again, so I was going to wait for the promised mineral water) and then we headed to the buffet line. Caterers were whipping out chicken and pork street tacos, shrimp tostadas and corn-on-the-cob. I loved it all, but that probably had a lot to do with the avocado crema. Bill wasn’t as crazy about the entrees. He doesn’t do avocado and I’m guessing the other offerings were a poor substitute, but he loved the corn. I’d recommend the caterers, but I never found out who they were.
Next stop was a door with a large sign advertising Soluna, the musical portion of Dallas’s Art Month, sponsored by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I was there to get a bottle of Topo Chico Mineral Water. The space was devoted to the evening’s audio entertainment, an “Icelandic musician” with “signature trolls”. The music wafted out of the performance space and I could tell it was a little out there for me. Bill ducked his head in and his main complaint was the overuse of volume.
Continuing down the way we visited a couple of gallery spaces. One only had a few pieces and the other seemed more actively devoted to the consumption of Modelo than the presentation of art. It was time to head back in the other direction and see what we could find.
On our way back to the center of things, we focused on the ceramic murals of the exterior walls. A book signing by the murals’ artist was part of the evening’s offerings. Bill wasn’t fond of the mosaics, but I was more pleasantly effected by the thematic river vistas. Returning past the trolls, we happened upon some more gallery space and these spaces seemed to be more serious about the art portion of the event.
Our final stop was the 214 space, which serves as a gallery and as the offices for the Dallas Art Fair. Well-fed and having consumed as much as we could understand concerning the art offerings, we headed home. The next morning, I’d learn more about what I’d been looking at.
A Few Observations
I would be the first to admit that my taste in art leans toward the figurative and peters out some time shortly after the Impressionists. I find many things to like about contemporary artists who continue the figurative and classical traditions in art, however I have not given up completely on the non-figurative and alternate genres. I’m still trying, even if I don’t find myself enchanted. So, I’m not a good person to critique the art we saw that evening.
The people watching was spectacular. I was happy to observe jeans and yoga pants were not the dominating fashion statement. In fact, the gentlemen, rather than the ladies, were setting the bar. Socks were so last century for these guys and all the pants were tight and short.
Winning the award for tightest and shortest were those who wore cuffed pedal pushers. I have no idea of the proper name for these short trousers. We ladies used to call them capri pants, back in the day. But trend-setting short pants weren’t all I noticed. The top halves of these guys were also trendy. Those with longer pants had a sort of khaki/safari vibe to them. My favorite item on the men was a white straw trilby with a florescent orange band.
The women just did not measure up. They seemed more interested in volume than style, like a pair of harem pants in a loud plaid. Other versions of comfort were apparent. The crispest female fashion icon was a sweet young thing in black leather short shorts. Her long legs were shod in high-heeled platforms with an interesting collection of straps. Her other clothing and accessories were black and gold. Her hair was a slick black bob. Kudos to her for appearing to care whether anyone looked at her or not. The rest of the women certainly didn’t indicate whether they cared one way or the other.
Wednesday, we’ll head back to Cancun, then Friday I’ll chat about the press conference. Come back to visit!
If you were looking for it, there was always something to do at Club Med. As I said earlier, live music entertained the guests in the Cielo Bar before dinner. After dinner there would be more live music, often from a different band. And so it would go into the the wee hours of the morning, but we can’t tell you much about that, because we usually turned in after the evening show.
Not Broadway, But Not Bad
Perhaps you read some of my reviews of our recent Royal Caribbean cruise which included scathing remarks about the on board talent, or lack of it. At Club Med, the performers weren’t pros (with a few exceptions) and they didn’t try to pretend they were, but the entertainment was completely enjoyable. Most evenings, some time in between the end of dinner and the beginning of the hard core partying, there would be entertainment. We found it quite fun.
Michael Jackson Tribute
Our first night featured a tribute to Michael Jackson. A professional performer danced to familiar Jackson tunes and he was accompanied by a cast comprised of Club Med staffers – known as GO’s (Gracious Organizers). We discovered a large number of the GO’s are interns on a stipend. Pretty much slave cheap labor, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The pro had the right build to play MJ and had someone doing great make-up. His wardrobe was very convincing and so was his dancing. While I can’t say it was just like watching MJ himself, it was high-energy, fun and entertaining.
After the MJ tribute there was something very familiar – an introduction to the staff. I felt like I was on a cruise – but without the trays of champagne. The intro went overly long I thought, but the Chef du Village (the guy in charge of Club Med Punta Cana) was embarrassing people who left early, so we sat in our seat until he was through.
Creactive is the name of the Cirque du Soleil (CDS) trapeze training school at Club Med Punta Cana. There guests can pretend they’ve run away and joined the circus. Bill wasn’t the least bit interested in taking a high-flying class and I’m a little acrophobic, so we didn’t take advantage of Creactive at all – except for the show they put on one evening.
The show was great. Performers, alone and in pairs, put themselves through their paces high in the sky. If you’ve ever been to a CDS show or seen one on TV I don’t have to tell you of the aerial feats of skill and awe they performed. However, it was also different from the usual performance.
There was no plot or theme and I missed it. I love the crazy costumes and surreal stories featured in the CDS shows I’ve seen previously. There was also none of the floor acrobatics, juggling and magic that make a CDS show so fantastic. As I said, it was a great show and this isn’t meant as criticism, just a warning about what to and not to expect.
After the show, there was a Balloon Party in the Rondele, a circular patio next to the Cielo Bar. Whatever they called a party at Club Med, it contained a lot of singing and swaying. There’s a song they sang all the time that started out “alle’ alle'” and included hand signals that everyone seemed to know – but us. It was called the Crazy Dance and they gave Crazy Dance lessons every day, but since I don’t know my right from my left, I stayed away. This was the Balloon Party, because they dropped balloons on the crowd. The White Party was white, because they dropped white confetti on you. The Red Party was red because…well you get the idea.
The Brazil Show
Another evening we were entertained with a show featuring Brazilian music and dance. As far as I could tell, there were no professional performers for this one, just jiggling GO’s giving it their all in skimpy costumes. I’m not complaining. It was a lot of fun.
Then out came the Chef du Village (CDV). This guy really needs his own TV show. I don’t think the stage at Club Med is big enough for him. He had on a knock-out Carnivale costume and performed some “magic” that were actually gags, which poked fun at his victim, but entertained the audience.
From Carnivale, the CDV moved on to world peace. (See I told you his stage was too small.) He recognized all the countries represented by staff and then moved on to the audience to see how many other countries were represented. Then we all sang, “We Are the World.”
No Dominican Show
We were disappointed on our final day that there was no show. It was supposed to feature the Dominican culture, which I would have enjoyed. The show had been on the schedule I took a picture of that first day. The show was on the schedule I picked up in the lobby. However, the schedule at the Cielo had been changed somewhere along the way and the Dominican show had disappeared. The only people to show up were Bill and I and one other group. There’s being prepared and being over-prepared. I think I was over-prepared – as if that’s a surprise.
Sometimes after the show we would head over to Cielo to check out the action, but usually we were worn out by so much relaxation, so we’d head to the room. Come back next week and I will tell you about our accommodations – and as always, thank you CTC Travel.
When they raise the traffic gate and welcome you into Club Med Punta Cana, you enter another world. It took me a few hours to slither out of the daily grind and figure that out, but I did. I was still in a bit of a rush as I hobbled back to our room and then headed out again for dinner, but by
dessert, I was on island time.
Dressing for Dinner
Sandra Rubio, my travel agent at CTC Travel, warned me they had themes each night at Club Med. It wasn’t a have-to thing, but something to add to the fun. She’d mentioned a pirate night, but if they have one of those at Punta Cana, it didn’t happen while we were there. Our first night was White Night. I wore a mostly white top and some white jeans, but if you are into themes, be warned, don’t take any shortcuts, especially on White Night. Your fellow members have spent a lot of money on gorgeous white sundresses, white linen suits and all things white.
Saturday was Denim & White, Sunday Red & White, Monday Flowers, Tuesday 45 & Fluorescent – then we went home. The 45 thing requires an explanation, but it can wait.
Meet You at Cielo
Cielo Bar is a large, circular, open air, (wait for it) palm-frond-roofed bar/cafe/coffee shop/living room sort of place that takes central stage in the entertainment section of Club Med Punta Cana. We were wandering in and out of it all the time.
During the day they had salsa lessons and various games. The bar was always open for coffee or drinks. A serve-yourself soda fountain sat at one end of the U-shaped bar. A very convenient restroom was around the back. Though we never quite figured out a schedule, there were often snacks available – pastries in the early hours, chips, salsa and guacamole during the day and at night hors d’oeuvres. Comfortable sofas and lounge chairs hugged the outer edges.
Most of our evenings began on the white sofas of Cielo. A live band would entertain the crowd. We’d try to make conversation with some of our fellow GM’s (Guest Members), but most of them were French. We grew to absolutely love the French Connection. We also discovered we weren’t particularly proud to be associated with the other Americans on the property.
We didn’t usually bother with evening hors d’oeuvres, because the fabulous buffet meals kept our hunger at bay, but we would have a drink. The first night I tried a rum & coke, which was fine, but I’m really a white wine girl and that became my regular. Bill would get a beer with a tequila shot chaser. He really was on vacation.
Many of our French friends would arrive at Cielo in family groups, but unlike the usual situation with American families, the children were not the center of attention and they didn’t sit staring into a tablet or phone. French children of all ages were expected to sit quietly in their seat, enjoying their hors d’oeuvres and sodas, while the adults chatted with one another. We were very impressed by this. Temper tantrums and meltdowns just didn’t happen. Americans are doing something wrong.
Eventually, we’d leave Cielo and head over to Samana, the dinner buffet. Dinner officially began at 6:30, but the Cielo experience began at 7, so Cielo is where we began our evenings. Then we’d wander across to Samana. I’ll tell you about that next week.
TRAVEL THERE: ONE OF LIFE’S MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENTS
On Tuesday night when we saw the Perfect Couple Game Show, they mentioned they would be having a Newlywed-type Q&A game on the following evening. Bill suggested we should try out for it and I thought he was crazy, especially after I had seen what they put the Perfect Couples through. They mentioned the game again at the Elton John Tribute show and Bill was even more adamant about participating. I thought there was no way they’d choose a couple of oldsters like us, so I didn’t worry too much.
We mentioned Bill’s desire to be in the game show at dinner time and our table mates promised to cheer us on if we did indeed end up as contestants. We had some time to kill before the show once dinner was over, so we took the opportunity to visit some of the places on board that we hadn’t yet seen.
One of the biggest disappointments was the Viking Crown Bar. The Bar was the highest venue on the ship and was reported to have the best views. The specialty sushi restaurant was up there and I also saw they had late night disco action up there. It was a beautiful bar and the view was amazing, but there was virtually no one up there enjoying it. We can’t say whether the disco party heated the place up or not, because by then we were always in bed.
Reporting for Duty
After a little more strolling, it was time to get to the Masquerade Theater so we’d be considered as one of the contestant couples. Some of the couples who were interested in this game show had been contestants in the Perfect Couple Game the night before.
The Love & Marriage Game had a twist. One couple was a pair of newlyweds honeymooning on the boat. Another couple was chosen because they had been married longer than anyone else in the theater. There was stiff competition to fill that middle spot.
Bill and I stood in a line up of prospective couples and they had all the couples give one other a big kiss to demonstrate how much in love we still were. Bill wrapped his arms around me and laid one on me. To make it more fun I wrapped a leg around him. The crowd went wild and we were chosen to be the middle couple.
The actual game was exactly like the Newlywed Show. First they took the guys backstage and asked the women the questions. When they brought the guys back out, Bill and I got every question right. Then they sent the women backstage and asked the guys the questions, but whereas the ladies’ questions had been pretty tame, they heated it up for the guys questions. We missed one that time – something about what feature the guys had been attracted to when they first saw us. I answered, “My butt,” because that’s what Bill has told me for years. He’d been a little bashful about answering so specifically and had said it was my whole body.
Then they asked a question which was not something I really wanted to talk about on a stage, in a theater full of people, so I’m certainly not going to discuss it in print, but we got it right. They made a big hoopla about us winning, but when they brought out our gifts, the other couples got the same thing, so there hadn’t been a real prize for revealing our deep dark secrets. However, we were certainly celebrities on the ship for the rest of the cruise.
Then as we were about to leave the stage, they wanted our room number so they could deliver a DVD of the event to our cabin. Oh, no! I realized they had recorded the game and there was no end to the people who might watch it. Then they said they’d be showing it on the on board information channel. They did, because I watched- and no I won’t be posting the video!
One day left! Come back next week and see how we spent our last day at sea.
TRAVEL HERE: DISCOVER THE YUCATAN & THE MAYAN WORLD
No time for working out or a sit-down breakfasts today. Our shore excursion met on the pier at 9:15, so we grabbed breakfast in the Windjammer Buffet and disembarked.
I love cruising and one of my favorite moments is stepping off the boat at a port of call. Progresso was not new to us. We’d been there several years ago on a Carnival cruise, but that was before I started blogging. On that trip we visited the Dzibilchaltun ruins, which I highly recommend. This time we were taking a tour called “Discover the Yucatan & the Mayan World”. It was a sort of compromise somewhere in between going all the way to Chichen Itza and spending the day on the beach.
The city of Progresso is developing their port and I’m pretty sure the cute little market at the end of the pier was not there last time. We didn’t see anything that tempted us to pull out our wallets, but it was a nice commercial enterprise and it gave us something to do while we waited for our tour to be called.
On the Bus
Once everyone on the tour had been accounted for, our guide led us to our bus for the day. For the most part it was in good condition, but I could tell it had been in service for awhile. Our guide had a shtick about his name. He complained that all of us tourists didn’t know how to properly roll the “R” in Carlos, so he’d prefer it if we called him The Big Chihuahua or Uncle Chewy.
Our first stop was Xcampo. (Well, actually the roadside restroom before you got to Xcampo.) Xcampo was a temple complex, like Chichen Itza or Dzibilxhaltun, but on a much smaller scale. The visit was not very long, but long enough to wander around and climb on the pyramids.
And speaking of climbing the pyramids, we learned that the steps of the pyramid were so steep to be sure that no one could turn their back on the god and walk down. They’d have to crawl down to do honor to the god. In addition, That’s the reason the door to their huts were so low – to remind people to bow and do honor to the home’s inhabitants.
On to Dzemul
Dzemul was a small town primarily occupied by descendants of the Mayans. Our first stop in the town was an architecturally correct replica of a Mayan home. When the bus arrived our hostess was nowhere in sight. We sat there a few moments as the guide tried to decide what to do about her absense. Just about the time he decided we’d go to the next stop, up comes this darling little lady on the orange human-powered vehicle you see in the picture gallery. These were the most popular vehicles in town and came in a wide variety of colors and themes.
As Uncle Chewy explained the details of Mayan home-building, our hostess went out back, stoked up a fire and made us some tortillas. They were good!
The next stop was the local Catholic church with a long history. There we were greeted by this beautiful woman in her traditional hand-made dress. Just so you don’t miss it, that’s cross-stitch and it covers the dress. Can you imagine how long it took to make it?
We were enchanted by this lady. She exuded pride and self-confidence. She and some associates performed some folk dances for us and one performed with a tray of water-filled glasses. The the tray of dancer in the picture got a little off balance and dribbled water on her as she danced. She was such a pro that it didn’t even cause her to blink. She completed the dance without ever touching the tray and behaved as if the water dripping on her was just part of the act. The dancers on the ship could take lessons from her.
Inside the church we were treated to a little history. Bill was amazed to learn that they used to make church doors so large in order for people on horseback to ride in, without having to get of their horse, in times of emergency.
Cultural orientation completed it was time to go to the beach. Come back next week and join us there. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of Dzemul.