Category Archives: Italy

Dancing Octopus

On September 4, 2012, the Carnival Breeze was docked in Livorno.  The weather was overcast.  Typical…

Ivan and I decided to check out Livorno rather than go all the way into Florence which is what most people do. We got the free bus to the centre of the city.

We walked around, but there doesn’t seem to be much to see….I guess that’s why everyone goes to Florence!

Lunch was at a place near a bridge called Otto Risso. 


Ivan and I shared gnocchetti pesti e noci (pesto gnocchi with nuts) and polpo cacciuccati (octopus molasses) which was lovely with a white wine.  At the end, we tried a lovely ponce alla livornese (coffee with a liquor punch and a lemon peel).


It started showering at the end of the meal.  We started walking back to the centre.

We got back on the cruise ship at 3:40 pm.  I played the 80’s trivia which I was alright at.  Ivan headed back to the room while I played.

We chilled in the room and then relaxed in the jacuzzi. Carnival Breeze has plenty of Jacuzzi’s – on the pool deck, on the adults only part, and also on deck 5 jutting out over the side of the ship.

Ivan and I went to dinner with our tablemates.  We knew that we found a cool table since 4 out of the 6 people liked to have a good time and drink…always a good sign! 

We left dinner early to catch the 9:45 comedy show.  Chas Elstner was on first who I’ve seen somewhere before.  He was just okay.  Then, Al Katz come on next who was just terrible.

It was time to check out the Blue Iguana’s Mexican Fiesta on the pool deck.  Not much was going on there though.

So, we went to find the English couple and French/Latin couple.  We knew that it would be a good day to party since our last sea day was tomorrow.

We found them outside at the Red Frog Pub playing dominos and drinking a fishbowl.  Well, Andres was trying to teach Caroline, Marc and Clare how to play.  Clare look confused and didn’t seem like she wanted to learn.  Ivan didn’t think it was a game to play while you were drinking.. but maybe a game if you’re an old man.  Ivan and I grabbed an espresso and came back.  Nothing like a shot of caffeine to start off a night!

We talked and Ivan did a few magic tricks.  A young British couple Clare knew joined us – the girl’s name was Jennifer. Her parents obviously have really good taste in names!

It was time to dance.  We headed to the Liquid Nightclub which was packed with people.  The Latin/French couple were tired and wanted to sleep.  I told Andres he should get an espresso, but he thought it would affect him too much since he doesn’t drink it often.  Ivan told them they should stay since it was our last day to party.  Andres said they’d buy one more drink and stay awhile.  I knew that they’d be here for awhile.  It’s always one more drink and then I’ll go.. but it just makes you buzzed or drunk and want to dance more.

I said hi to the pretty French Canadian girls that we dined with one night at the bad location in the restaurant.  I keep seeing them around the ship.

We danced for awhile.  At first, the music was good fun pop music like Black Eyed Peas but then it turned into crappy ghetto hip hop (bump n grind crap) music which Ivan and I hate.  I was telling Clare that the music sucked and she agreed.  She asked me what kind of music did I want.  I said garage and drum n’ bass.  Clare went to talk to the DJ and she started pointing to me.  She told me to tell him.. so I went over there and said the music was bad and I wanted to hear some garage or drum n’ bass and he wasn’t going for that.  I said well, maybe something upbeat like YMCA and he laughed and said no.  According to Carnival 2.0 these DJs are trained to learn how to read the crowd and play what they think they want.  I think he was reading the crowd wrong and just playing what he wanted.

Ok, he did start playing some fun music.. so I was happy.  But, you would think he would notice that more people dance to the pop music than the bad hip hop music. 

I was drunk and started doing my usual craziness and hitting people’s butts (I blame the hitting people’s butts on my friend Jerry who would love to hit girls butts really hard).  Ivan and I were having fun dancing around with everybody. 


The music was jumping around to all sorts of music like Latin. 

I noticed some of the playlist productions cast (the singers and dancers in the main shows) in the nightclub.  The Asian gay guy was really dancing like he was auditioning for a play.  I told Mark  that he was one of the cast (he didn’t know since Clare and he hasn’t been to the shows).  He dared me to go start dancing all crazy next to him.  I was going to, but then one of the other production cast members grabbed the Asian guy and left.

The Liquid Nightclub has a drink that comes in a disco ball.  Ivan bought one – we drank it and he went to drop it off in the room. 


I’m glad Andres and Caroline stayed and danced with us.  It looks like they were drunk and having fun.

The music turned to slow music which meant the DJ wanted everybody to leave…either that or he was just feeling all romantic (somehow I think it’s the former reason…).

We said good night to everybody and went to our room at 3:30 pm.  Ivan was ready to dance more.  We ordered some free food from room service and then went to sleep around 5 am. Always nice to leave a nightclub, have a very short walk back to your room, and then have free room service on tap!


St. Peter’s Cooking Class

On September 3, 2012, the Carnival Breeze was in Civitavecchia, Italy.  Today was Ivan’s birthday.  Lil Dave gave Ivan his birthday gift (which actually wasn’t bananas!) and said happy birthday and he was off to meet the monkey lads.

We had the breakfast buffet on the ship.  The weather looked nice outside.

We took the train in Civitavecchia to Rome.  Unfortunately, Ivan ran to find a seat.. but it was so crowded there was no way we could both move.  I was on a stair for a long time reading my Stephen King book (Thank goodness I didn’t forget my book).  I thought we’d be on the train and I’d be able to work on the blog on my laptop.  It must have been rush hour (with people going to work) plus people from the cruise ships (one had just debarked). 

We got a taxi to Cooking Classes in Rome place… we were running late.  The class had 11 people in it – a mix of Americans, English and Australians. 

Our teacher was an Italian man named Andrea who looked like Roger Federer.  The kitchen was small but somehow we all fit inside.  The menu for today was deep fried pizzas with 3 different ingredients, fettucine boscaiola, chicken cacciatora, roasted tomatoes and traditional tiramisu.

Andrea would show us how to do something (like chop tomatoes) and then ask for a volunteer or two to do it.  I was chopping tomatoes with an American guy. Ivan was peeling a bunch of potatoes with a guy.

It was raining hard outside – I’m glad we were inside.

Later, we got to make pizza dough and knead it. 


The class also made pasta dough and got to cut it as well.  We’re definitely going to make our own pasta back home. 

I got to fry pizza dough for the fried pizzas.


The fried pizzas were really tasty with lovely fresh ingredients on top.


The pasta and chicken cacciatore were tasty.

The tiramisu was decorated with our names.



How cute!!

During dessert, Ivan really liked his and I said you should eat more since it’s your birthday.  Andrea heard this and came out with birthday tiramisu cakes and we all sang happy birthday to him.

It was a fun class.  I love cooking classes since you get to make new things and then eat it afterwards.  We went with the wine pairing for 20 euros per person.

The food was very tasty.  I definitely recommend this fun cooking class.  If you’re planning on booking it, do it early since this cooking class gets booked up fast.  The cooking class does e-mail you the recipes from the class.

We walked around Rome… a lovely city that we’ve been to a few times, but still haven’t seen all the sights. 

No matter how many times we got to St. Peter’s Basilica.. it’s still beautiful.


I posted some postcards at the Vatican.  It started showering.

We got the train back to Civitavecchia.  We were back on the cruise ship at 6:30 pm.

It was time for dinner at the Blush Restaurant.  I asked Ken the singing maitr’d to sing a song for Ivan and wish him a happy birthday.  He said he’d sing a song the next day since a lot of people eat dinner in Rome since everybody gets to board the boat late at 8:30 pm.  Ivan was busy talking dinner and I talked to one of the waiters.  I told him it’s Ivan’s birthday and could he get a candle in his dessert.  The waiter said we already know it’s his birthday.  I said How? He said we just know.  I said Oh it must have been Ken.  He said we just know.

Ken announced Happy Birthday to Ivan at table 733. 

A cake came out with a candle on top and we sang Happy Birthday to Ivan and then he blew out the candle. 


The cake was good that Ivan was given.  We ordered an apple pie which tasted great.

After dinner, we went to the Red Frog Pub with the English couple and the Latin/French couple. 


It was a fun night of listening to the singing of Timmy Pearce (he sings modern songs with a backing track), drinking and chatting. 


We got the fish bowl which has lots of alcohol in it.  Ivan did a few magic tricks as well.  Mark (the muscular English guy) was really drunk and kept high-5ing people.  It was really funny.  It made me think of the status update I wrote about Why do you get the incredible urge to wave at people at the port or a passing boat when you’re on a cruise ship?  My friend said it’s like a high-5, you can’t resist it.  The Latin/French couple said good-night.

We went to the Liquid Nightclub with the English couple Mark and Clare.  Nobody was really there though (Ivan thinks it was only entertainment staff there besides us).  Ivan and I said good night and went to bed.




On September 2, 2012, Ivan and I had breakfast at the buffet.  We met outside for a tour outside of the cruise ship.  We were in Olbia, Italy. 

Lil Dave was hanging with his monkey friends on the boat.  They were going to race boats at the monkey pool.  Lil Dave was happy to be on his monkey vacation from The Daily Dave blog.

We went on tour with 22 people through Sardinia.  It was an overcast day.  We looked like we were the youngest in the tour group.  The tour guide was a man named Mario.

Our first stop was Porto Rotondo in the Casbah area at the marina. 


There was lots of boats and plants.  We saw a church service in progress. 


Right outside the church there was a cool bell tower.  Also, on the ground there were profiles of the popes in the marble floor.  It looked really cool.. not sure who is who though, but I’ll tell you one thing they all had big noses.


We drove more and got to stop for the panoramic view.  It was a shame about the weather because this would have been beautiful with blue skies and a sunny day. 


Our next stop was Porto Cervo.  We walked around with Mario for 10 minutes and then we got some free time.  Porto Cervo is filled with expensive stores like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Versace… but we also saw some cute boutique shops.  A few people were walking their cute dogs.


There were a lot of interesting art pieces around the village.


Ivan and I each had a scoop of gelato on a cone.

It was on to the next destination which was Baja Sardinia (Sardinia Bay).  We stopped by the Holy San Antonio Church where Mario sang All Come All Ye Faithful in Italian – he has a lovely voice. 

Mario talked earlier of the most famous Italian song Mama.  He sang it beautifully to the tour group on the bus.  Somehow, the bus left without two people.  Good thing somebody was paying attention.. because I surely had no clue who was really on this tour.  Luckily, the bus went back and Mario and some people went looking for them.  Somebody saw them near the bus. 

Our last stop on the tour was Palau.  It was another gorgeous panoramic shot. 


Mario even said that he felt bad showing us these beautiful places with such bad weather.  The driver drove us through Palau and then we drove back to Olbia.

It was time to head back to the cruise ship.

Ivan and I had a late lunch on the Carnival Breeze.  I had a lovely burger with sautéed onions, banana peppers and bbq sauce with their oh so tasty seasoned french fries from Guy’s Burger Joint while Ivan got stuff from the Tandoori (Indian food) and the buffet.

We went on the fun water slides a few times and then read our books in the jacuzzi.

Later, we decided to hit the buffet instead of going to the restaurant since we had a late lunch.

Ivan and I had some tasty food at the buffet.. we had sushi, seafood chowder and tilapia.

We were so knackered (tired) that we watched an episode of Beaver Falls and then called it an early night.


Pizza Tunnels

On September 1, 2012, Ivan, Lil Dave and I had the big breakfast burrito in the Red Iguana Mexican place. It was so very tasty and big.

We got off the cruise ship at 9:30 am. It was completely overcast and gloomy out. We wore jeans and rain jackets and went into the city.

It was time to see the Il Tunnel Borbonico which are tunnels.  The tour was in English that Ivan pre-booked.  It was only us in the tour which was really cool.  This was made in the 17th century as a military passage connecting the Royal Palace to Morelli street.  It was also used for a bomb shelter during World War II.  It was supposedly the most bombed city in the war (This sounds so familiar since we’ve heard it before on other tours for other cities that we’re bombed during the war – wonder which city was ACTUALLY the most bombed city during the war).  It was really cavernous and huge down there.  We’ve been to the Cuchi Tunnels in Vietnam? and those were even hard for me to walk in without bending over (I’m under 5 foot).


There was lots of old cars there since in the 1940’s to the 1970’s the police placed stolen or illegal cars here. 

Ivan found out today that you can actually do rafting underneath the tunnels.  Too bad that nobody was doing it today.  It’s something you do have to book ahead.  That would have been fun.

We did see parts of water tanks and the old electricity system on the wall.

Over by the old toilets, the lady played a air raid siren.. I think she should have played it longer for effect.


It is sad to think that people lived down here during the war.  It was really spacious, but I’m sure it was quite depressing.

It was a really cool place.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures because of copyright.  They said they would send us pictures to our email for free (but still haven’t gotten them and it’s been two weeks after).  I would definitely recommend seeing the tunnels.. it’s really worth the 10 euros per person.  When you’re filling out the form to get the pictures via email you also get a ticket that lasts for the rest of the year.  Our friendly tour guide said we should talk about us online like Tripadvisor or Twitter since they don’t advertise.  She even told me that it’s weird that she works that and she can’t even take photos of where she works.  If I worked there, I would sneak a few in.  I don’t know her name but she was very passionate about the tunnels maybe since she doesn’t do that many tours. 

It was warm out so we probably shouldn’t have worn jeans.  It was a little cooler in the tunnels though.

We went back to the Carnival Breeze to change and relax for a bit.  I worked on some art stuff and the blog while Ivan used the internet.  Lil Dave came back to the room.  He’s been playing some silly monkey trivia games with his friends. 

Ivan and I went back into Naples to do our own self-guided pizza tour.  Naples is where pizza was created.  We wanted to try a few places eating a slice of pizza at each one. 

Our first stop was the pizzeria called L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele that was used in the movie Eat Pray Love.  There was a big crowd outside with people waiting for their number to be called.  Ivan grabbed a number.  It was rainy out.  Ivan noticed that people had take-away boxes.  Ivan is always the one to save some time.. he thought that we should just get a pizza take-away.  It was weird that there were lots of people STILL waiting for their pizza inside the small restaurant inside. 

There were only two options of pizza here:  margherita and marinara – one with cheese and one without (Why oh why would you get it without cheese?!).  We went for the margherita.  We saved a lot of time by getting our pizza to go.

We picked a spot that had a cover so we wouldn’t get wet from the rain.  The pizza had a lot of tomato making it more wet (which is definitely a Napoli pizza trait) and not enough cheese. 


The cheese, tomato and bread were delicious.  Ivan and I agreed that it needed more cheese.  I gave it 8 out of 10 while Ivan scored the same.

The next stop was Pizzeria Sorbillo Antonio egigi Napoli (wheew what a name!).  It was weird seeing an Asian taking out the pizzas at this place.  The oven was right near the entrance.  We got the funghi pizza which came with mozzarella, mushroom and pomodoro (tomato). 


This pizza was a bit ordinary.  I thought the cheese was good.  We both agreed that the bread tasted great.  I gave it 6 out of 10 while Ivan gave it 5 out of 10.  There was a guy playing music on a tambour. 

It was time for a break from all the pizza.. so we decided to check out the sights.

We checked out the Sansevero Chapel.  The most famous marble statue is The Veiled Christ. 


It’s amazing how the sculptor made the marble look very thin like a veil.  There was another cool statue where the marble looks exactly like rope.  It’s amazing the work these artists make.. the artists these days just pale in comparison compared to these artists.

Our last pizza stop was Di Matteo.  We tried to go here earlier in the day, but it was way too busy probably since it was lunch time.  Ivan was right to say that we should come back later.  Ex-President Bill Clinton has visited here.


We got the pizza sampler which was divided into four – one with no cheese or sauce, but with mushrooms, anchovies, eggplant, olives (asked for artichokes, but I guess they ran out – took the olives off since we don’t like olives).  The bread was okay, the tomato sauce was alright and the toppings and cheese were good.  We had our slice of pizza with a glass of white wine.  I gave it 5 out of 10 while Ivan gave it 4 out of 10. 

The best pizza of the day was the Eat Pray Love pizza at L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. Naples is known for their use of tomato making the pizza more wet. It’s different.. but as long as the tomatoes are tasty it’s good. Also, they don’t use much cheese… so, I guess that leaves you concentrating on the toppings and flavors. 

Watch a video of me reviewing the pizza at Di Matteo:

Check out the two other video reviews: L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and Pizzeria Sorbillo Antonio egigi Napoli.

At the port, we bought some banana vermouth and a red wine.  The bags are checked at the port with the Italians and they don’t care what you bring on.  Usually, Carnival is very strict.. but this port had the gangway at Level 3 and they didn’t have a machine to check bags – plus they didn’t check what were the contents of the bag. 

We went back on the Carnival Breeze right before 6 pm. 

Ivan and I used the internet and I worked on the blog as well. 

It was time for some entertainment.  We saw Richard Griffin who’s a comedy magician – he wasn’t that funny and his tricks were the same ol’ stuff you see.

We went to dinner and chatted with our tablemates.

Credits: Il Tunnel Borbonico picture and The Veiled Christ picture


Mount Etna & Taormina

On September 1, 2012, we were already in Messina. 

We met the tour bus going to Mount Etna and Taormina.  The group was 8 people from the Carnival Breeze cruise ship – but it wasn’t a privately booked excursion (there are Carnival excursions you can book on the cruise ship).  We were the youngest people in the group.  Our tour guide was a man named Claudio.

Claudio told us some history about Italy.  The Sicilians felt separated from the rest of Italy.  They would go to head of families to get help or protection which is the start of the mafia.  It used to be really bad from 1960’s to the early 1990’s. 

Ivan and I didn’t have a chance to grab any breakfast since we were rushing.  The group stopped at a honey and olive oil place called Oro d’ Etna.  We were glad to have stopped here since there were free samples of the flavored honeys & olive oils.  I liked the berries honey and the onion olive oil.  We also got to try almond wine.

Mount Etna erupts every now and then which is good so that it doesn’t build up pressure and erupt a lot at once.  It erupted recently 3 weeks ago.  You know that an eruption is coming from the black smoke coming from the volcano and ash may come out. 

Our next stop was Mount Etna’s Silvestri Crater.  We got to walk around for 30 minutes. 


To go to the main craters, you can take the cable car that goes up to 8,500 feet then a jeep (4×4) to 10,000 feet where the main craters are located.  Too bad we couldn’t do that since it’s a long trip.

We started driving towards Taormina.  I was looking forward to lunch.  We stopped by and saw a great view of Isla de la Bella which means Beautiful Island which was really beautiful.


The group stopped at Taormina where we had 2 hours for lunch and sight seeing.  Ivan and I went to find the restaurant that Claudio recommended.  It was a warm day out.  We went to Grandluca.  Ivan and I shared the regionale pizza (tuna and onion) and the pasta con le sarde.  The regionale had way too much cheese and not enough tuna and onion. 


The pasta was delicious with sardines, wild fennel, raisins and pine nuts. 

Later on, we tried the fresh cannolis at Roberto Lab. Pasticceria.  There were lots of postcards from many fans who loved their cannolis.  We had to try one. 


It was simply delicious.  Before we’ve had cannolis and they weren’t fresh.  It’s so much better when it’s fresh. 

We walked around Taormina checking out the souvenir shops.  Ivan thought we should get another thing at the Roberto place.  We didn’t get another cannoli (which I wouldn’t have minded if we did!), but we did get another pastry with cream inside it which was also tasty.

We walked around some – didn’t have time to check out the theatre, but we’ve seen the one at Pompei which is probably better. 


Taormina is a cute quaint  town. 

We drove back to Messina and stopped by the main square.  There was a church.  I saw this big religious thing and took a picture. 


Not sure what it meant though.

Claudio drove us back to the ship.  Ivan bought a USB internet stick in Venice the other day.  It was only 9 Euros for the stick and 6 months of internet with 100 MB a day.  We weren’t sure how it was so cheap!  We used the internet.

Ivan and I went to the Past Guest Party which was alright.  We did get free appetizers and drinks.  They were passing out fruity drinks, but we asked for red wine and we did get it for free as well.  The party is pretty much an advertisement for all the boats and talking about the new Carnival 2.0.  I liked seeing the towel animals talk on the big screen.


Ivan went to the jacuzzi and saw Mount Stromboli pass by.  I was doing art stuff and working on the blog – also Ivan didn’t tell me that the cool volcano would be passing by… Thanks Ivan!

I made a cool art piece with our nickname (like Brangelina) that Neal, Ivan’s brother, gave us.  It’s iJen!  I stuck this on our cabin door.


We went to dinner and the boring Scottish people were the only ones there.  Ivan and I each had the study in sushi which is really small. 


I had the French Onion soup while Ivan got the black bean soup.  We each had the tasty baked herb polenta.  We shared the fig, walnut and cinnamon cake which came with a great walnuty ice cream.

We left dinner early for the comedy show.  We saw John Lory who is so freaking funny.  We went to check out Malcolm Pitt who is a Lionel Ritchie impersonator.  He didn’t really look like him much, but he did sound like him.  It was a bit boring.. Ivan’s not really into Lionel Ritchie.

We went to the 10:45 comedy show late.  Tom Pepper was still on who is so painful to watch since he’s so boring and NOT funny.

We saw John Lory again who was once again hilarious.


Comedy Mask Tower

On August 27, 2012, Ivan and I got breakfast at the buffet.  Lil Dave decided to find some monkey friends on the cruise ship instead of going into Venice with us.

We got the vaporetto (water bus) right to St. Mark’s Square which was a company had running right from the cruise port which was very convenient.

We did the St. Mark’s Clock Tower tour that Ivan booked. 


It was really cool!!  It was only us and a Japanese couple and they looked and sounded like they couldn’t understand a single word of English, so in essence it was just us on the tour!  We love small tours since it’s private and feels very intimate.  The tour guide Elena was very nice.  She explained the parts of the clock.  The wing lion is above the church and the next to the lion was the Doge.  The Doge was the duke of Venice for over a thousand years.  The Venetians didn’t want to be part of Italy…  The Doge was removed though by Napoleon when Venice was taken over by the French.   At the top of the tower there’s a terrace with two Moors who ring the bell. 

There are beautiful views of St. Mark’s Square from the clock. 


They have a procession twice a year with the 4 statues that a man does – he’s supposed to check on the clock once a week as well. 


In the old days, the doge got the engineer to run the clock and got asked to live in the clock to run it.  The engineer asked if he could bring his family – so for payment, he got a big apartment inside a clock tower.  The clock was run from family to family for over 500 years, but then the last guy didn’t want to do it, even though his dad really enjoyed it. 


So, it was bought by a company and now it’s mostly digital.  It was done manually to wind the clock and the bells which took 5 minutes every hour.  The digital clock was created in 1858 inside it which was the first digital clock in Europe.

The group headed to the roof and got to see the two men with the bells.  What a beautiful view of Venice from up there. We could see all the crowds below in St. Marks square and we felt rather smug to be standing on top of this tower with just a few other people, rather than with the huge crowds below!!!


I really enjoyed the clock tower tour.  If you’re ever in Venice, you should check it out. 

Our mask making class was up next.  We were running late so we had to rush to the class.  It didn’t really matter since it was only us taking the class at that time.  There were already a group of kids making masks in the back.  First, we had to choose what kind of mask we’d like to paint on – there was a bit variety like jesters, cats and the masks with big noses (which is my favorite!).    Ivan picked the guy with the big nose and I picked a cat.

We got to choose a technique with different color combinations that were on the wall.  The lady told us how to do it with the paint colors we picked. 

So, we colored with one color of paint and then went over it with the next color.. which created a new color.  We had to dry it with a hair dryer.. and then we got to put detail on it with black. 


The lady gave us a sheet that had different examples of what you could do.  I took some of the ideas and added some of my own. 

Next, it was time to dry again and then varnish the mask and dry it.


The last step was putting on silver or gold.  We both picked gold.  At the end, we got to pick two different color (or the same if we wanted) ribbons for the holes.  I really like my mask, I think I did a great job. 


What do you think?  Ivan’s turned out good as well.


Next, we went souvenir shopping and then had a snack at a cicchetti place.  Then, we decided to get gelato at Grom.  This time we had cones with two scoops: I had chocolate sorbet (cioccolato extranoir) and lemon while Ivan had chocolate sorbet and raspberry. 

We got the water bus (vaporetto) and then the People Mover which is 1 Euro per person back to the port.  Ivan had food from the Indian tandoori.  I got a tasty cheeseburger at Guy’s Burger Joint (Guy Fieri from Food Network).  I made it with sautéed onions, banana peppers and chipotle mayo.

We went to the pool and checked out all the slides Twister and Drainpipe.  The best time to go on the slides is around 5:30 pm since people are getting ready for dinner and it’s really quiet.  Ivan always checks it to see how long the line is – we don’t like waiting in line for a long time.

We chilled in the jacuzzi and read our books. 

We had espresso before heading to dinner.  Ivan changed our dinner table so we would have a table on the main floor since it’s good to be part of the action.  Unfortunately, we had a horrible table of French Canadians who ignored us and barely spoke to each other even though they were a family.  I don’t know if they knew any English or not – my guess was no.  It was nice to hear Ken singing and actually see him from this table.  There was also dancing from the waiters and servers.  Ivan and I were sure that we’d try to find another table.  Hopefully, it would be better than this one.. Ivan thought it couldn’t be any worse which I thought it actually could be.

There was time to spare after the meal, so we went to the room to chill before heading to the comedy show at 10:45 pm.

The first comedian was a large black man named Thomas Brown who was hilarious.  The second guy was named Dwight Slade.  He made fun of us since we were sat in the front row.  He said we were boring… how could you really tell by asking us one question.  He was quite mental and funny.. not as funny as the first guy though.


Windy Carnival

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up early at 9 am on August 26, 2012 and packed everything up.  We said good-bye to Gabrielle and left the apartment.

The weather was overcast and it would probably rain later.  We took the bus and then the vaporetto (water bus) to the People Mover. 

The People Mover takes you right to the port – we got on that and proceeded to the luggage check-in for the Carnival Breeze.  We are taking a 12 day cruise through the Mediterranean with Carnival’s newest cruise ship.  Ivan told me to head to the check-in in case there was a line.  Thankfully, there wasn’t a big line since we were really early.  It can be an hour or more wait later in the day.  I was trying to get in and I said I’m waiting for my husband – the lady didn’t want to let me in..I told her he’d be a second since he went to put our big backpacks in the check-in.  Good thing, a manager was there next to her.. she said it was fine to let me through.  The lady is dumb because I could have checked in without him.  Some people don’t know about customer service.

We were on board at 11:30 am – but the rooms wouldn’t be ready for 30 minutes.  Ivan and I were really hungry and got food made at the Mongolian Wok at the Lido Marketplace (buffet).  The line wasn’t line since not many people were on board.  I got mine with Thai BBQ sauce with lots of vegetables and thin noodles. 

It was time to check out the room.  Our room was a lot bigger than our last Carnival cruise.  We checked out the balcony.  Ivan and I were really tired since we didn’t sleep much last night.  We took a long 2 hour nap. 

We started unpacking everything.  It’s great to be in a spot for such a long time – usually we’re moving around so much it’s pointless to unpack if you’re only staying a night or two in a city.

We took this Carnival cruise because we love the cruise director John Heald and his funny assistant Calvyn Martens.  Unfortunately, before the cruise started we heard through John’s blog that he wouldn’t be on the Carnival Breeze because he was having surgery.  We were really bummed about this since he was one of the main reasons we were doing this cruise.  He’ll be on the ship during the end of the cruise.. but he won’t be cruise director probably since he needs to take it easy after the surgery.  The cruise director is Butch Begovich who we’ve actually seen before on the Carnival Dream.  He’s a great cruise director.. but we think John Heald is HILARIOUS!!  John is also very down to earth and he’s from a city near where Ivan grew up in Essex, England.. and funnily enough he now lives in Southend-on-Sea, England where Ivan’s parents live. 

We checked out the cruise ship – it’s always so quiet on the first day so it’s a perfect time to take pictures.  The Liquid Nightclub looks like space or something from the future.


It got really windy at one point.  The chairs outside were moving and the divider which is a divider for the next balcony came undone.  It got foggy as well.  We looked outside and there was a boat that wasn’t docked correctly and we saw it keep moving.  The Carnival Breeze was moving as well since the bad weather.  The boat crashed into the Carnival Breeze and the little boat got hit and started leaking oil.  The storm passed really quickly.. about 30 minutes.  We’ve never seen anything like it.  Thank goodness we weren’t on a vaporetto (water bus) at the time – that would have been scary!!

The cruise director Butch made an announcement saying that the gangway was closed and the Carnival Breeze had to move because of the high winds.  There was no mention of getting hit by the small boat.  They would let us know when we would be able to get on board.  We later found out that one of the gangways got damaged.

Ivan went to explore the boat while I wrapped his presents for his upcoming birthday.  I worked on the blog. 

Later, we went to the Blush Restaurant for dinner. 


We were glad that we had Ken’s room who is the coolest singing maitre’d. We met our tablemates who were Marc and Clare from Northern England, an Latin/French couple called Andres and Caroline, and a Boring Scottish couple (they ain’t gonna be reading this blog, so what the heck – and if they ARE reading it – STOP BEING SO BORING!!!)

They were all really cool (except for the Scots) but we hated the position of the table – it was a long table like something you get at school, and it was upstairs so we were not in the ‘action’ downstairs which is what we usually like.

For dinner we had tomato soup, and salmon with apples.


For mains, we had tofu steak which was very, very tasty. For dessert, we had the classic chocolate melting cake which was amazing as always.

Afterwards we went to the main theatre for the welcome abroad show hosted by Butch. It was okay…but no way near as funny as when John does it. Afterwards was the ‘Motor City’ show. We are disappointed that Carnival have got rid of their live band on the stage. They have these huge LED screens which are quite impressive, but we miss having a live band on stage. Also there are only 8 dancers/singers whereas before there used to be a lot more. I mean sure the singing and dancing was great, and with all the led screens it was quite an impressive site….BUT…it just didn’t blow our minds like previous Carnival shows have.


Walking around Venice

On August 25, 2012, Ivan, Lil Dave and I had breakfast at the apartment.  We got the bus and then the vaporetto (water bus) to the island of Venice. 

We went to St. Mark’s Basilica which is located in the beautiful St. Mark’s Square.  Ivan signed up online for 1 Euro each to forego the line – he read that sometimes the line gets really long.  The line wasn’t actually long.  If you’re wearing a tank top or shorts, you have to buy a cover for 1 Euro.  I bought one, but I didn’t remember that I had my sarong in my bag until after I bought the cover.


The church was lovely inside.  I lit a candle and prayed for friends who passed like my ex-boss who passed recently.  I joked at the end that the cloth I was wearing looked like a table cloth.. and at the exit there was a box of table cloths!  I was actually wearing a table cloth!! Obviously somewhere in Venice there is a restaurant with a confused waitor outside saying to anyone who would listen ‘Has anyone seen that box of table clothes I left outside?’ And there running away in the distance he can see some guy in a priest outfit with the box under his arm and a cheeky grin on his face!


People were being stupid and putting back the table cloth that they bought for 1 Euro.  I kept mine so I can have a picnic on the cruise ship we’ll be boarding soon.

It was time to search for some lunch. Ivan checked out a few different places.  We decided to eat at a restaurant (can’t remember the name).  There was a set menu which was a pasta dish with a glass of wine for 12 Euro, so we went with that.  Ivan and I each had black ink spaghetti with cuttlefish and a glass of white wine.  Lil Dave got got the banana lasagna with a glass of banana juice.  Ivan and I looked like we had turned goth with our lips turned black from the black ink.  The food was tasted great.

It was time to go shopping.  I love walking around Venice since it’s a lovely city.  I checked out all the Murano glass shop, the souvenir stores and Venetian mask shops. 


I could spend hours just walking around here – thank Goodness for GPS, it’s really confusing with all the winding alleyways.  I thought there weren’t any dead ends, but during our time in Venice we ran into two dead ends.

We did lots of walking around.  I see why Venetians eat so much… you spend a lot of energy walking around the streets that you need more energy before you go walking even more.

We stopped at Cantina Do Mori for cicchettis.  Once we did a Cicchetti of Venice tour and the group stopped here. 


I remembered the bronze buckets that line the ceiling.  Ivan and I shared tuna fritters, cheese and fish and veggies on bread. 


Lil Dave had to special order his cicchetis: banana on bread, banana with cheese on top and banana fritters.

We walked around even more checking out the souvenirs.

Ivan thought it would be a great idea to get some gelato.  I think any time is a good time for gelato unless you’re super stuffed from a big meal.  Ivan had choccolata extranoir (dark chocolate sorbet), mango and pistachio while I had blueberry, choccolata extranoir and lemon.  Lil Dave got 3 scoops of banana (of course!).  The blueberry wasn’t the best, while I really enjoyed the lemon and the chocolate sorbet. 

Ivan and I were feeling a bit tired, so it was time to get an espresso at a café.  If you sit down, the café will charge a service charge.  Most Italians just stand at the bar and drink the espresso from the cute little cups.

Next, it was time for wine.  Ivan can’t remember the name of the wine bar.  We had artichokes in oil and sparkling water. 

St. Mark’s Square is huge compared to the one in Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel and Casino.  It’s beautiful – it’s definitely a must see in Venice.


We wanted to do the pub crawl again.   We saw the guide again and nobody showed up again.  I don’t know why.. maybe he’s lying that he has 20 people on his tour sometimes.  Ivan and I reckon they need to fire their marketing guy and hire somebody better.

It was a very tiring day, so we thought we’d head back and have dinner at the local restaurant near the apartment.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I got the vaporetto (water bus) back and then the bus.

We had dinner at Ristorante Tizano.  Lil Dave got a special banana pizza.  Our meal was lovely again with a tunno e cappolla (tuna & onion) pizza and some amazing pasta, and a white wine to wash it all down.


Gondola Mask

Ivan and I slept 10 hours and woke up feeling refreshed on August 24, 2012.  Our room at Airbnb included breakfast for free.  Ivan and I had saltine crackers, cereal, a peach and yogurt.  Lil Dave had two bananas. 

We got the bus and then the vaporetto (water bus) to the island of Venice.  We rushed to meet up with Jane for Row Venice.  Today, we would be able to drive a gondola!!


How freaking cool.  I knew Ivan would be better at this since it took me awhile to be alright at kayaking.  Ivan seems to pick up things a lot quicker than me in some things.  Ivan was up first.  Jane steered in the back while Ivan was in the front.  Jane told him to do the rowing.  It seemed easy, but I didn’t think it would be easy once I got to do it.  Jane is an Australian lady who has lived in Venice for 22 years – she’s married to an Italian. 

It was my turn to try it.  I wasn’t as good.  I felt a bit ganged up on since Jane and Ivan were telling me what to do.. and I was a bit confused.  I guess I wasn’t very confident about doing it since I thought I wouldn’t be good at it for some reason.  I was getting a hang of it though.

The views were beautiful with all the buildings with paint falling off the building and the lovely canals.


Jane told us that up to the 1970’s deliveries were done via gondola. Not many locals take gondolas since they are expensive to take. Some people have their own gondolas or boats. It’s 2000 Euros a year to have a spot at the marina. Jane doesn’t use her gondola much – mostly for the tours since it’s easy to walk somewhere then get the gondola ready and boat there. The scenery was quite lovely.

We rowed out to the open ocean.  Jane asked if I wanted to steer in the back.  I wasn’t too confident, so I let Ivan go first.  Jane let me row in front while she was telling Ivan what to do.  Ivan kind of seemed to be getting the hang of it. 

I got to try the steering next.  It was pretty hard.. I think I was better at the rowing in the front.


Ivan went to steer again in the front while I was in the front.  We had to head to a certain point Jane said.. but Ivan was making us go in a circle.  Eventually, we started heading in the right direction.

Jane told us that 2 people have proposed to their girlfriend on the gondola ride.  We had an awesome time rowing in the gondola.  Ivan was excited that he got to wear the gondolier hat.  Ivan got to go in front again while Jane did the steering in the back. 


He even sang us a little tune.  This is a great thing to do.. I’m sure it’s lovely riding in a gondola, but rowing it is EVEN better!!


Lil Dave wanted to try the rowing, but he was way too small for it.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any small monkey gondolas – I’d love to see that.. it’d be soo cute.  Jane liked taking pictures with Lil Dave.. although, she didn’t want to take off her glasses – maybe she’s hiding from the mob or something?


Ivan, Lil Dave and I were so hungry.  Jane recommended a restaurant for us for civvitechhia?? (look in old blog), but it was closed for lunch.  So, we found a nice place that looked good.  Ivan and I shared a huge plate of vegetables and another plate of seafood. 


Lil Dave went for a banana spaghetti.  The food was delicious and REALLY filled us up.  We had a spritz which is a local Venetian drink – a bit bitter… better with Aperol which is sweeter than the Campari which can be really bitter.

A short time later, we walked to Grom which is a great sorbet place in Italy.  Ivan had a dark chocolate sorbet, pistachio and mango in a cup while I had dark chocolate, fig and raspberry.  I’ll let you guess what flavors Lil Dave got.  Can you guess it?  Our favorites were the raspberry and the dark chocolate sorbet.  The dark chocolate had little bits of chocolate in it.

It’s so lovely walking around Venice – it’s a very picturesque city.


It’s also nice to do some window shopping.  We checked out the Venetian masks stores and Murano glass stores filled with figures and jewelry.

One store had great masks, but they told me No Pictures.. but I was able to get in 3 shots. 


Lil Dave was happy that he found a monkey mask.. but unfortunately the banana to Euro ratio isn’t very good now, so he wasn’t able to buy it.

We went to the mask place where the masks from the movie “Eyes Wide Shut” were created.  Ivan and I signed up for their Venetian mask making class for Monday.  The Venetian masks are beautiful in Venice and they’re not that pricey. 

We went to check out The Original Venice Pub Crawl and met the guide named Allen who’s Russian.  Unfortunately, nobody showed up which we thought was odd since it was a Friday night.  He thought it was because the barman said that a few girls wanted to do the pub tour but there was an opera on.  I doubt backpackers are going to the opera instead of a pub crawl. I guess it’s just slow or their advertising is really bad. 

It was time for dinner.  We went to eat at Ristorante S. Stefano.  Ivan and I shared a good tuna and onion pizza and a spaghetti with tomato and basil.  Lil Dave got the banana fettuccine. 

We took the vaporetto (the way  to say water bus in Italian – which sounds really cool!) and then the bus back to the apartment.


Venice via Newcastle

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had to wake up early at 9:30 am on August 23, 2012. 

We packed up which took quite a while as all of our stuff was spread around the room as if an explosion had gone off in our suitcase.

So by 11am or so we were done. I realised that I had way too much stuff-before I had about 10kg in my bag but now I’ve got 13kg and that is just way too much for a little girl like me. Before we go to South America, Ivan’s going to get rid of a whole bunch of his smarter clothes and I’m going to get rid of some clothes as we are not going to need these while overlanding on the Oasis truck.

We got the train to Newcastle from the main Edinburgh train station. The train took an hour and an half and the journey flew by with the help of a tasty crayfish and noodles salad, and a couple of episodes of weeds and beaver falls on the laptop.

Once in Newcastle, it was another metro ride that then took us to the Newcastle airport. We were flying from here to Venice rather than from Edinburgh as it was much cheaper. The line for check-in was deserted and security was pretty fast as well – always the great thing about small airports I guess!

The flight was pretty uneventful…I just worked on the blog and read a bit of my book. Once we arrived and had got our luggage we headed towards the boat station to get our boat into the centre of Venice. Its always nice to get off a plane and onto a boat rather than a bus or taxi isn’t it!

We were staying on the Lido rather than the main island of Venice and luckily the boat we were on took us right there. A short taxi ride then took us to the Airbnb place Ivan had booked for us. We were greeted by a lovely Italian lady called Gabrielle who was quite the character and fun to talk with. We were staying in a room in her house along with her and another lodger. She recommended a local Italian restaurant, and due to the fact that we were pretty hungry , we ignored Gabrielle’s requests for us to ‘relax and maybe take a shower ‘ (in fact she was very insistent that we SHOULD take a shower – did we smell or something?), and headed to the local restaurant nearby called Ristorante Tizano.  The tuna and onion pizza, cod dish (which was creamy) and a pasta with olive oil, garlic and chili.  I don’t know how they make pasta so simple, but it tastes delicious.  The pizza was amazing and the cod dish was really good. 


The cod looks like a penis and balls though haha… I think the chef has a sense of humor.

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