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August 2007 Archives

August 3, 2007

Epcot Updates

Welcome TrooperBill as our guest blogger. He visited Epcot (8/1/07) and sends these photos and updates:

The wand that once adorned Spaceship Earth continues to be dismantled. You can see progress daily.

Spaceship Earth

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Spaceship Earth

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House of Tomorrow at InnoventionsThe House of Tomorrow in Innoventions recently reopened -- the entrance way is still the same, with the fingerprint doorlock access, and the outside camera. The kitchen room seems to have magically transformed to all Siemens appliances. Included is a microwave that is wall mounted, and the lower part drops down to have the food placed in it, sort of like an elevator. The fridge has a TV built in, which was displaying recipes during the presentation. The family room had a large hi-def TV, that can also be run from the home computer, and linked to the kitchen appliances. I seem to recall something similar in the previous edition of HOT.

The game room has a programmable shelf mounted robot, that can be used as a security feature They also had an advanced electric guitar and drum set, each of which can basically play themselves. The girls bedroom has what they called a "floating bed" which is a round circular mattress hung from the ceiling. There is also a Magic Planet, which is basicaly an interactive computer globe.

House of Tomorrow at Innoventions The dining room had a table and chairs made of cardboard, which can be seen in the pictures, and looked much sturdier in person than one would think. The bathroom had a tankless commode which looks more like a ceramic hamper than a toilet. They also had a DTV (digital thermal valve) controlled shower stall, which was as large as a spa and had eight separate spray vales, all controlled via the DTV.

The garage boasted pretty much the same set of shelves, and now has an electric scooter plugged in to wall. Supposedly it can do 150 miles and 55mph on a charge. They also had some sort of hot water drian recycle thingy setup, that uses heat from hot drain water to heat the intake pipe of the hot water heater, thus lowering the cost of heating fresh water. There was also an electric car in the final area.

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Also at Innoventions East, the two areas housing the Internet Zone and City of Opportunity have been walled off and are being dismantled. I found out that Waste Management ( a large garbage/recycling company) has purchased ( or leased) the space space, and will be putting an exhibit there. Supposedly it will be centered around recycling, and hopefully will not consist of a large Waste Management dumpster in the room!!

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Voices of LibertyThe Voices of Liberty recently completed a 2 week hiatus, during which they broke in several new singers. I caught 2 shows today, and each one featured four of the new performers, with a separate group for each show. I didn't get to confirm if they are still auditioning or have actually joined the regular cast, next time I'm there I'll ask and find out.

The Heritage Gallery at the American Adventure has closed, and the Africa artifacts have been removed. The new exhibit will be called National Treasures, and will feature items on loan from various American Musuems, in particular the Smithsonian, with items dealing with American history. This exhibit should be open in a few months.

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The kids splash fountain between Future World and World Showcase is walled off. I'm don't know if it is just refurbishment or something else.

Fountain

August 17, 2007

Lynn and Paul’s 15th Anniversary cruise

Who are these people?

This is my first blog with AllEarsNet so I thought I'd introduce myself.

Lynn and Paul on the Disney Magic
My name is Lynn and my husband Paul & I met when we were both Cast members at EPCOT. We were married in 1992 and left Orlando for Atlanta in 1994. We have no children by choice. Even though I grew up in GA WDW feels like going home, and I still visit a couple of times a year. Paul visits once a year for the Food & Wine festival.

On port days during our early cruises we felt we had to 'DO' everything, and I had a need to buy lots of tacky souvenirs. Somewhere around cruise number 3 I started to realize that I could get a lot of the Caribbean 'stuff' at Wal-Mart, and my family really didn't need t-shirts from somewhere they'd never even been.

Around cruise 4 or 5 I started to buy mostly locally made products. I especially try to find local artwork or photography; frameable postcards are my favorite 'cheap' souvenir. On our last two cruises we lost the 'need' to have to do and see everything available in port, and started to appreciate the days at sea more. During our 2005 DCL cruise I remember telling Paul "This is the ship I want to do a Trans Atlantic cruise on. Well ... Lo and behold just a year later the announcement came out that DCL was taking the Magic to the Med! That meant they had to get it over there and back right ?!?! It was like Tinkerbelle had swooped over our world spewing Pixie Dust !!!!

With a mixture of excitement and apprehension that there's no way we could afford this I contacted our wonderful TA Vickie from MouseFanTravel.com, who as it turns out will be on the same cruise. On April 4, 2006 we were booked on the Westbound cruise August 18 - September 1, 2007 !!!!!

I chose the Westbound for several reasons, 1) we get the really long flight over and done with at the beginning of the trip 2) we do the active part of our journey at the beginning, then get 6 blissful days at sea 3) Best of all we get to sail back in to our own time zone, which I hope will be an easier acclimation, AND we GAIN an hour every day on the Trans Atlantic part of our voyage! Every day will be an hour longer !! WoooHoo! 4) Also a big bonus we get home on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, so we have two full days before returning to work. It wasn't until months later that I realized that our 15th Anniversary is within the same month hence the title of our blog.

I'll let Vickie & Mike introduce themselves.

The four of us Me, Paul, Vickie, and Mike will be blogging both jointly and separately, that is Mike and I will be blogging , most of Vickie's on line time will be spent working, and I expect only minor input from Paul.

Did I mention that I talk too much, usually about myself or Disney! LOL!!

Lynn Behr

August 18, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - We're on vacation!

THURSDAY AUGUST 16 TH

Yesterday as I was getting ready for work I got a text message with a picture from our friends Shelly, Scott & Dylan, who we met on our 2005 DCL Cruise. They are on a Med cruise on 'another' cruise line and were having pizza in Venice. How wonderful!

Today when I got to work, I've got an email from Vickie, and one from Deb Wills. Vickie & Mike have arrived safetly in Barcelona, and Deb reports from where ever she is enjoying her Disney Adventure that our blog is ready to go.

So how am I supposed to get through the rest of my work day with out exploding from excitement?! After all I've been waiting for this for 16 months and in about 26 hours the car will be here to pick us up ! Luckily I work for a Dentist and he only sees patient till 1:00 On Thursday. By 1:45 I had everything I had to do finished up and was on my way next door to get my nails done, with well wishes from my boss and co-workers. As my nail tech 'Son' told the lady who was doing my pedicure "She's on vacation!"

So nails done, stop at Petsmart for cat food, Kmart for perscription, and Trader Joe's for 2 1/2 buck Chuck for the wine coolers I'll be having later. Yes Folks we pay $2.49 for 2 buck Chuck in Georgia! I had just gotten home when who should arrive but Paul ! Much to the astonishment of his co-workers Cynthia & Gary who are our close friends, he left work early on a Thursday and HE was on VACATION too !!!.

Since we did most of our packing on Sunday we didn't have that much to do, just some last minute odds and ends and a full out search for the only pair of cuff links in existance, which BTW, I (if that "I" could be bigger it would be) found. Right on the shelf in his closet buried under sweatshirts that he swears he had already looked under. That's why Indiana Jones, and Hans Solo always had a girl with them, they might look good but they can't find stuff on their own.

Over the last couple of days we've debated where to have dinner tonight and decided on our favorite pizza joint Mellow Mushroom. Back home to watch a movie, Zoom, which we already had from Netflix, (mildly entertaining, but it tries hard) and I came upstairs under the pretext that I was going to shower and go to bed. How does anyone sleep on the night before vacation?

I always told my Mother, the night before Disney is far worse then the night before Christmas. So I snuck out to the livingroom to get the laptop to write down the blog that keeps playing in my head (somehow it sounds much better there) and I can hear NASCAR 07 coming from the XBox in our home theater in the basement. Paul wont' be to bed for hours!

August 20, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - Today's the day !!!!

August 17, 2007

The day is finally here ! Tomorrow we'll awake somewhere over Barcelona. Our day started when Paul's cell phone woke us up. It was his boss also know as Paul with some problem he wanted Paul to fix, Hey! Doesn't he know we're on vacation??

After fixing their problem Paul headed off to the Y to workout and I headed to my chiropractors office to get all straightened out before we leave. We met up back at home and headed off to Chili's for some lunch, when we got back the box from Amazon that we had feared wouldn't arrive in time was sitting on our front porch, Paul had ordered a Sci Fi series to read and we were beginning to think we'd have to go to Border's for books. Also in that box.........NASCAR 08 for XBox !!!!

So much for cleaning up the house before we leave, at least we have something interesting to do for the next 3 hours. Turns out there was so much time to kill, the house got clean and we had time to crash a few cars. Paul had arranged for a town car to pick us up at 4:30 for our 8:00 flight, we are using a different service this time after the last service left us stranded at the airport on our return flight. The driver turned up a few minutes early in an SUV, we always had a regular car before, we like them so far. Great driver, no traffic and our trip to the airport was quick and uneventful. Because we were early there was no line either at baggage or check in. In no time at all we were in Friday's having appetizers and drinks to start our vacation. While we were sitting there trying to chill out Paul said "you know, I'm a little sad we're not going to see Dylan......and Scott & Shelly." They are our friends we met on the last DCL cruise and have remained friend 2 years later.

We arrived at the gate before the plane, which should already be here, turns out it was at another gate. While we were sitting in the terminal I was looking in my bag for my book and realized I had forgotten my Passporter ! How could I have forgotten that! With all of the highlighting and bookmarks I've stuck in it over the last few months. I'm going to be totally lost on the ship, how am I going to know what I want to do after the planned shore excursions in the ports and HOW can I possibly write trip reports with out that important encyclopedia?

Our flight starts to board at 8:25 and we're in flight by 9:15 just 1 hr 15 mins after our original takeoff time. Since May I've read tons of travel reports and the one thing I was worried about was changing planes either in London or Paris, it just sounded like a hassle to me and I was worried about delays or our luggage not arriving when we did.

We booked our flights with our package through Disney and 30 days ago we got the good news from Vickie, we had a direct flight!! That was the best news so far! Seriously it eliminated my biggest worry. It pays to live in a hub city that is also the home of Delta. So they start to bring around dinner not long after take off, we tell them we ordered two diabetic dinners, the flight attendant tells us, "we didn't get any diabetic dinners:". Period. That's it, not what can you eat, let's see what we can do. Nothing. Well this is okay for dinner but I'm going to need more than a bagel for breakfast. She tells us she'll have her captain come by and talk to us. We never saw her.

With dinner over we watched a couple of movies, turns out we didn't need our laptop for movies, in flight movies on international flights are free. This is our first international flight so we were unaware. I watched Shrek3 and Paul watched Spiderman 3. After the movie I kept my headphones on and listened to music "Spa selections" worked nicely to try and sleep by, along with handy dandy sleep mask they give you in your little package, which I thought had aroma therapy in it. The next day it was scentless, do they pipe that stuff in? I know I didn't imagine it. If you had asked me I would have said I didn't sleep any, but I was pretty surprised when they started coming around with breakfast, there was actually light coming in and we were only an hour from landing. For breakfast they managed to get me fruit, cheese, and crackers, along with the granola bar I brought with me I would survive. Pretty soon we were landing in Barcelona!!!!

Lynn

August 21, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - Barcelona 1st Day

August 18, 2007

We ascend into Barcelona through heavy cloud cover, to rain. Pretty novel for us since we haven't had any in Atlanta for a while. Immigration was very quick thanks to Delta giving us the paperwork on the plane and the officer being on the phone. I don't think he even looked up when he stamped our passports.

While we were waiting for our luggage there was a Disney Cruise Line rep walking through the crowd who gave us stickers to wear on our shirts to identify us as DCL passengers and told us where to take our luggage. The whole luggage process went smoothly if not too quickly and our large group gathered to head outside.

The rain had stopped so we only had to dodge puddles on our way to the bus. Onboard the bus we learned our 8 mile ride to port would take about 30 minutes. On the way we passed the "Damm Brewery". Wish I had gotten a picture of that. Paul & I like to try the local beer when we travel, no matter how bad it may be.

After we got checked in, which took no time at all, we passed by an area where local dancers were performing and Mickey was watching, got a few pictures of Mickey, had our Welcome aboard picture taken and headed up the gangway. We stopped by our room where we found a bottle of champagne from our travel agent Vickie (MouseFanTravel,.com) and a leather travel wallet which was our Castaway Club gift.

We hadn't had much breakfast so we headed up to Topsiders for some lunch. After that Paul, who was suffering more from the redeye flight than jet lag, went back to the room to crash and I went to the Vista Spa to book the rainforest room for the two weeks. The Rainforest Room is a serene room in the Vista spa with heated tile loungers, 3 steam room/ sauna, and a couple of scented showers. It's one of our favorite places onboard ship.

From there I went to Palo's, DCL's private adults only dinning room to get on the waiting list for a second dinner. We're having dinner with Vickie & Mike there on Monday night but we were hoping to get a second dinner for just the two of us. I told them it was our 15th anniversary and she found us a table for two no waiting at 8:30 on the 29th. Unfortunately that is Pirates In the Caribbean night - the only night I didn't want, because we have costumes to wear. I turned it down and asked that we just be put on the waiting list. She kept looking and found us a table for two in Aug 30 th!

Additionally I checked to see if Vickie had been successful in adding us to her Palo's brunch reservation, she had!! I'm happy now. Paul was napping when I got back to the room and I tried to lie down too. I couldn't lie still, so I got up and moved to our sofa with my book, read a little bit then took a short nap. I woke up just before 5:00 and woke Paul up to do the lifeboat drill that I thought was at 5. It was at 5:30 so we had time to unpack.

After the mandatory lifeboat drill which we grabbed a snack and caught the port bus, it runs between the port and Las Ramblas a pedestrian street lined with restaurants, shops, street vendors and street performers. We walked along the harbor then checked out the street vendors. Las Ramblas is in the Gothic Quarter and there are many side streets and squares to explore, wandering down one of these we discovered an Irish Pub, Molly's Fair City, Well I'm Irish so we have to go in right? We thought this was pretty novel, an Irish pub in Barcelona, later we realized they're all over the place. While we were having our pints we asked the bartender where to eat, she gave us directions to L'Arqeutera (hope that's right I'm reading her hand writing) she said walk along the street and listen for locals, well we found it easy enough and were checking out menus when we found Taller de Tapas, which was recommended by PassPorter so of course that's where we ate. Tapas along with a pitcher of Sangria were just what we needed to get our first night of vacation off to a good start.

Lynn

August 22, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - Barcelona Day 2

August 19, 2007

Barcelona & Codorniu Cellars

That wake up call is LOUD at 7:30 in the morning!! Today we're doing a bus tour of the city and then going to Codorniu Cellars for a tour and tasting. We had rain last night and today is very overcast. After breakfast we're meeting Vickie & Mike in Diversions where our tour group in assembling. It was about half full when we got there so we grabbed a table and Vickie & Mike came in right after us. Our guides got us organized, gave us stickers that identify us as a Disney tour group and we headed out to our bus.

First up was a stop at an overlook, you could see a lot of Barcelona but not too well since it was so cloudy, I didn't get any good pictures but I enjoyed walking around looking out over the city.

Our second stop on the tour was Temple de la Familia, a huge ornate temple started in 1882 that is still in progress. The statuary on the outside depicts the life of Christ on one side and his death on the other. We had about 30 minutes to look around outside and in a few shops, while we were here it started to rain pretty good. Our guide Anthony did part of his talk from inside the bus so we wouldn't get too wet.

On the rest of our drive through the city one thing that struck me is that all of the city streets are lined with trees, and the building all have rounded corners to help with airflow. We drove past Olympic park and out of the city to the vineyards in the countryside. During our 45 minute drive, we passed Montserrat but you couldn't see if for the cloud cover.
Deb's May 2007 Montsterrat Photo Blog One and Photo Blog Two.

We arrive at Codorniu Cellars to more rain but it was a short walk inside and from building to building. We hardly got wet. They have a museum where our guide told us their history; it's housed in a beautiful old red brick building, with arched brick ceilings that I loved. We saw the processing area, and then went into the cellars. They have miles of cellars and take you through on a little train. At the end of out train ride we went to the tasting room.

Codorniu Cellars makes sparkling wine called cava, which would be called champagne if it were from France. We had their Non plus Extra Brut, it was really good, light, not sweet since it's Brut but not too dry. We considered sneaking back up to the bar with the next tour group to get a second glass but opted to go to the gift shop instead. We all bought something to drink during the cruise and something to bring home. As we were leaving they gave us a three pack of single serving bottles as a gift, all right! souvenirs for people back home!

On the way back to the ship the bus offered to, drop us off at Las Ramblas Paul & I took them up on it, I wanted to pick up a pair of earrings I should have bought when I saw them the first time. On our way back to the port bus we stopped at the Take Away to have a Damm Beer, while we were in there it started to rain again, by the time we got to the bus stop it was pouring ! And the roof of the bus stop was leaking, I sure am glad Vickie insisted I take her umbrella!

The Gothic Quarter where Las Ramblas is located is very pedestrian friendly and has beautiful and ornate architecture, I took lots of pictures.

When we got back to the ship we were both freezing from being out in the rain, we heard the temperature was 72, but didn't confirm that. We decided this was the perfect time to go to the Rainforest Room at the Vista Spa, some time in the saunas and a quick snooze in a tile lounger and we were happy people. The Rainforest room is the best money you can spend on the Disney Magic.

The sail away party was moved to the Atrium because of the weather but it had stopped raining so we chose to go up to Deck 10 to watch the Magic sail out of Barcelona for the last time in 2007. I love sail away no matter what port you're in, it's too bad the rain ran the party inside. The Disney Magic slipped quietly out of Barcelona, very different from the fanfare of her arrival. I'm hoping for a great sail away party when we leave Tenerife to head back home.

After sail away we went to the Walt Disney Theater to see Illusionist Phil Keller, then to dinner at Parrot Cay the most casual of the three regular dinning rooms. Since we had eaten in Barcelona the night before instead of in the dinning room we were meeting our table companions for the first time. They are Kasey & Kevin and they're from Florida. Sometime around dessert Minnie Mouse and two dancers came in and did a song that Kasey recognized, as he had performed it at Tokyo Disneyland when he worked there as a singer.

After dinner we went to Diversions to watch the NASCAR race on ESPN but it had been rained out so we turned in early. Tomorrow is a sea day and we get to sleep in!

Lynn

August 23, 2007

New Stamps Unveiled at Epcot

Trooper Bill sends us a report from the Disney stamp unveiling ceremony that was held at Epcot on 8/16/07:

The stamp unveiling ceremony was held at 1 p.m. in the America Gardens Theatre. It began with the Fife & Drum Corps, and a female singer named Jackie Stressman, who performed the National Anthem.

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Following that, the MC, Holland Hayes, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Scoop Sanderson of the Magic Kingdom, welcomed the guests, and introduced Senior VP of WDW Erin Wallace. She gave a brief speech about the collaboration between Disney and the Post Office in the series of stamps, culminating in today's new release. Erin was followed by Linda Kingsley, Senior VP of the USPS who also spoke about the partnership between Disney and the USPS over the years. At the end of her remarks, the Fairy Godmother came down the center aisle, and took over, singing Bibbidi Bobiddi Boo, and introducing Peter Pan, Dumbo, Genie, and finally Mickey, the four subjects of the new series of stamps.

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After that, the official unveiling took place, with a typical Disney flourish. The finale was the introduction of the three artists who developed the series: David Pacheco, Peter Emmerich, and Terry McCaffrey.

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Following the ceremony, which lasted about 20 minutes, the three artists sat and signed the merchandise in front of the American Adventure shop for a couple of hours. They were very gracious and I was able to get my framed set signed by all three, with a nice Mickey ears flourish added to the 2007.

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There was a merchandise display area set up outside of the American pavilion, under the covered area to the right. The merchandise consisted of stamps with first-day cancellations, postcards, and other items related to the release of the next four stamps in the USPS series of Disney stamps. The four stamps include Sorcerer Mickey, Dumbo with Timothy Mouse, Aladdin & Genie, and Peter Pan & Tink. The theme of the new series is "Magic".

The merchandise area ran smoothly, and there were no real lines to purchase items. There was also limited merchandise available inside the American Adventure store. The outdoor merchandise was under the auspices of the USPS, while the merchandise inside was sold by Disney. Inside the main item was a Limited Edition (LE) 50 framed pin set, with all four pins from the release, with a first-day cancellation envelope with all four stamps, and a Sorcerer Mickey envelope. This was in a matted background, with a small plaque that read, "The Art of Disney Magic," and "Limited Edition of 50." It retailed for $150, and as of 3 p.m. they only had one left. (They would have had two, but yours truly decided to spring for one.)

Also, while at Epcot, I happened to notice they are selling several retro design Epcot Center t-shirts in MouseGear. I have not seen these before, and took a few pictures of them.

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I also got a pic of the wand removal progress.

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August 25, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - Where in the World is Lynn?

Finally! some internet access.

We're having a wonderful time, saw Jim Brickman last night whom I love!

This morning we were fortunate enough to see Ducky Williams.

The internet service is REALLY bad! I haven't disappeared, just having problems getting online to post.

Here are a few pictures of Barcelona.....

Olympic Stadium
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Barcelona Overlook
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Barcelona Side Street
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Columbus
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Port of Barcelona
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August 27, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - Gibraltar

August 21, 2007

Obviously this blog hasn't been as live as I had hoped, I'm having a harder time than I had though finding time to write and wireless internet access is not always available. The wireless internet access throughout the ship is new to DCL and it's still pretty hit or miss. It is a great service though and nice to be able to use your laptop in your stateroom instead of having to use the internet café.

You may also notice that I'm skipping Monday our first day at sea. I had that report all typed up and lost it when I failed to save it. We spent most of that day by the Quite Cove pool. Quite Cove is the adult only pool and is our usual hangout; I'll have more on it on a later sea day.

I also went to the spa and had a seaweed mud wrap and massage. I think it was the deepest deep tissue massage I've ever had. If you find yourself in need of a massage on the Disney Magic ask for Ben. This was also our night to have dinner with Vickie & Mike at Palo's. I'll talk a little bit more about Palo's later on, Paul & I will be having dinner there again on the 30th.

This night we went early to have a drink at the bar before dinner. Our friends Shelly, Scott, and Dylan are on a RCCL Mediterranean cruise this week and we had set up this time to have a virtual drink with them. So "Cheers" guys we miss you this trip.

One other Palo's note PJ the head waiter at Palo's (I think that's his position) will be moving to one of the new DCL ships. He told us the Palo's on the new ships will hold 200 people and there will also be a smaller Victoria & Albert's style restaurant.

So that's yesterday in a nutshell, let's get on to today.

We woke up very early this morning to the sound of the ships foghorn. We are pulling into Gibraltar and it's so foggy you can't see the rock. Gibraltar is located on a narrow peninsular of Spain's Southern coast and has been a British colony since 1713. Most people know the rock of Gibraltar as a symbol of strength and solidity, it's actually fairly hollow with 140 and miles of tunnels in most of it's two mile area.

We started our tour today with a short bus ride to the cable car that will take us to the top of the rock. At the top there is a station with a small gift shop and snack bar, up here there are great views of Catalan Bay and the rest of the island. From here we start our walk down the mountain to St Michael's Cave, stopping along the way at different overlooks and occasionally to let a taxi pass us on the very small road. Whenever one came into view we all had to line up single file along the mountain side of the road to give it enough room to pass.

We also passed remains of fortifications, and many iron rings in the rock that cannons had been attached to. St Michael's cave has miles of cave and tunnel and we only saw a small part of it but the part we saw was spectacular, most amazing is a concert hall inside. I wish I could have gotten a good picture of the concert hall but one little camera flash just won't illuminate it, I had to buy a post card to get a good photo.

After St Michael's cave we boarded our bus and started down the mountain, on tiny roads not meant for tour buses. In the states these roads would have been single lane; here they were two way with cars parked along the side.

We stopped at one overlook where a family of Barbary apes lives. Here they believe that if the Barbary apes ever leave Gibraltar it will cease to be British. We had been told to beware of pickpocket apes and not to wear flashy jewelry and to put our sunglasses in our pockets. However we were there pretty early and they weren't very active, which was great for photography and I took lots of pictures, especially of the babies. My favorite was a little family of three, the mother was lying on her side asleep with the tiny baby cradled in her arms while the father sat next to her with a protective hand resting on her side.

Our next stop was the Great Siege Tunnels. I remember that the tunnels were dug through solid rock by hand but I can't find any dates in any of my notes or information. The ceilings were very low and Paul who is 6'2' had to watch his head. There are some cannons remaining and a few 'scenes' set up. This was the last stop on our tour and we headed back down the mountain.

Some of our drive took us through residential areas and again through very narrow streets. On the way down we passed the remains of a Moorish castle that is now the local prison. We also passed the governors house which is called the convent because it was once a convent. It was a nice red brick building right on the street with an armed guard out front. The bus dropped those of us wanting to shop off at Main Street with directions on how to get ourselves back to the port.

I had asked our tour guide about the Clipper, the pub that Passporter recommended, she said "That's in Irish town". I assumed that meant it was not close to Main St, turns out it's just one block away, but we figured that out after we had already had fish & chips in another restaurant in the Main St square. We went in and had a drink anyway, and found Vickie & Mike there having lunch.

We walked around the Main St area but I was pretty disappointed in the shopping in Gibraltar I had hoped to find a pint glass for my nephew Terry with a local pub or ale logo on it, it seems the only one's were the one's they were serving ale in. Guess I should have asked if I could buy one of those since I never found one for sale. Most of the things for sale I could buy back home. The only local craft was Gibraltar Crystal, which is still hand-blown on site. The artist had two assistants and they do every piece themselves. It was interesting to watch but too expensive to buy.

Back onboard out departure from Gibraltar was a little more exciting than our departure from Barcelona, the Captain turned the ship around in the harbor and everyone had a full view, then as we sailed out we were followed by several private yachts, guess it was a little more exciting for them as this in only the second time the Magic as been to Gibraltar. Two interesting sites as we left were a cargo ship that had been hit by another ship was half sunken right off the point of the lighthouse and you could see Morocco sticking up through the marine layer. Pretty exciting to know we were that close to Africa.

Lynn

August 28, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - Gibraltar Photos

Gibraltar Mountain

Gibraltar Mountain

Along our Walking Tour (See Gibraltar Blog Entry)
Along our Walking Tour

Me at Gibraltar
Lynn at Gibraltar

Ape and Baby
Ape and Baby

Me and the Baby Ape
Lynn and the Baby Ape

Disney Magic
Disney Magic

Paul in the Tunnel (See Gibraltar Blog Entry)

Paul in the Tunnel

Side Street in Gibraltar
Side Street in Gibraltar

Sinking Ship (See Gibraltar Blog Entry)
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August 29, 2007

TransAtlantic Cruise - Cadiz

August 22, 2007

Harbor

Our original shore excursion for today was cancelled a couple of days ago because they didn't have enough people signed up. It was supposed to be Jerez & Arcos De La Frontera.

So, we chose the closest thing on the list of remaining excursions A Taste of Cadiz, Jerez. The only time available though was 12:45. We usually like to do our excursions in the morning then have the rest of the day in the port to look around and do some shopping, especially in a port we've never been to, we like to get a feel for where everything is situated during the excursion before heading our on our own.

Having extra time this morning gave us a chance to go to Parrot Cay for breakfast, this is still a buffet with an omelet station like Topsiders and has basically the same food but you have a server to bring your drinks and clear the table.

The port is in Old Town Cadiz so it's an easy walk to the shopping area. I really wish I had taken more pictures here. We walked down a tiny alley way to get to one of the main streets that was very quaint with it's different balconies. I did take some pictures of a cat asleep on the seat of a scooter parked along side the street. I'm a cat person and Paul says I have pictures of cats from every vacation.

Cadiz Cat

We walked around a bit but didn't really do any shopping, thinking we'd come back into town after our excursion. We were back onboard well before our 12:45 meet time.

Our tour guide Carmen taught us all the proper way to say Cadiz (Caadith) and we headed out on our bus for a tour of Cadiz then on to Jerez (Hadeth) to visit a bodega, that's a winery for us Americans.

Jerez, Cadiz

On the way we passed the Cadiz Cathedral, drove along the beach, saw the castle where the Havana clips of Die Another Day staring Hallie Berry and Pierce Brosnan were shot and drove along the beach. The beach here has little areas of restaurant and bars built right out on the beach, and interestingly a kindergarten, also right on the beach. Her description of the kindergarten sounds like what we would call a daycare, as you can just drop off you children there. On the way out of town we passed their soccer stadium, every European city has one.

On the drive to Jerez we passed salt ponds, where you could see mounds of salt along the sides and flamingos walking in the water. The flamingos looked white, unless they were flying, they are pink under their wings. We were also driving past rolling hills that were all empty and beige, they were the sunflower fields, had we been here in June this would have been a beautiful sight. There would occasionally be a large patch of green with a building in the center, these are the vineyards. Most grapes here grow on the ground unlike home where most of them grow on trellises. We also saw a few cotton fields along the way, interesting for a southern girl who grew up seeing cotton fields to find them in Spain.

Coming into Jerez we drove along a Moorish wall that has been here since the 12 century. Here again the streets were very small and some cars were double parked, definitely not meant for tour buses. We passed by a couple of bodegas that I recognized, Harvey's, makers of Harvey's Bristol Cream, and Sandeman makers of Port before we reached our destination Gonzales Byass makers of Tio Pepe Sherry and Lepanto brandy.

Gonzales Byass

Gonzales Byass is located on what seems to be the edge of old town Jerez our bus really had to do some maneuvering to get us to a safe location to disembark. Here again we heard the history of the bodega and how sherry is produced. We boarded a train that took us to another building on the grounds where we saw the brandy distillery.

Their facility takes up several city blocks and is house in very old brick buildings. At the brandy distillery there is a room that I fell in love with, the walls are all old stone walls and it appears that is was once a courtyard, now however the ceiling is made of grapevines. They are growing up the walls and form a very lush shady canopy. There were iron lanterns hanging overhead and what appeared to be an old well was the center piece of the room. I could imagine many parties in this room and tried to convince Paul to build me a room just like it.

Courtyard

Further in our journey we passed through rooms where barrels of wine are stored and heard about the sherry making process, many of their barrels have signatures of famous people and many are very old. They also have barrels of wine reserved for Spain's royal family and many of those have signatures on them as well.

Tio Pepe was the original winemakers 'Uncle Joe' and he had a small private cellar, it's still intact and holds about 30 barrels of wine. Next we were headed to the tasting room, to get there we walked down what used to be streets between the buildings before Gonzales Byass owned all of the buildings, now these are planted with grapevines and they also form a shady canopy over the street. This is a beautiful winery.

Streets of Cadiz

The tasting room was set up in a very large open building with what appeared to be large tents inside, the small tables were set up for 4 people each. On each table we had a half bottle of Solera 1847 oloroso dulce sherry and Tio Pepe Palomino Fino Muy Seco.

The Palomino Fino was very dry and went well with the green olives and crisps that were also on the tables. Let me pause here to say that local Spanish olives are much fresher and a lot less salty than what we get in America, I wish I had bought jars to bring back home. The sherry was what I assume is typical semi sweet sherry, we're not sherry drinkers. They also came around and poured each of us a glass of Croft Original Pale Cream Sherry, which was light and sweet.

cadiz7.jpg

They have a nice large gift shop here that I would have liked to spend more time in. Those of us who wanted to could taste the brandy here, but after all that sweet wine it just taste like alcohol to us. They also make and sell sherry vinegar, Mike & Vickie bought some and now I'm wishing I had too. We got a bottle of the 1847 sherry to drink on the ship since all of the bars onboard are out of port and I picked up a tapas cookbook. If we had more time I'm sure I could have a found lot more to buy here.

We got back to the ship around 4:30 but everything in town was closed for siesta until 6:00. Apparently I needed one too after all that sherry, and since there wasn't a 6:30 show tonight I took a nap until time to get ready for dinner.

On the nights that there is a stage show they do them both during dinner times. If you have the late dinner seating like we do you go to the first show and vice versa if you have the early dinner seating. A little different than other ships we've been on and a great set up as it allows people with late seating to see both the stage shows and late night acts.

Some nights there are deck parties and those are usually around 10:00 so that everyone can come. Tonight we were sailing at 10:00 and they had Latin Music Under the Stars. Here the Captain backed out of the port then turned after we were out in the channel. You could see people standing along the sea walls to watch the Magic leaving port, and hear her sound her very distinctive horn.

Where other ships just have one big bass horn the DCL ships have 7 that play the first 7 notes of "When You Wish Upon A Star, it's incredibly loud and always takes my breath away. When we reached the channel I could see motoring out ahead of us a 3 mast sailing ship that had been anchored across from us in the harbor. We're under way and it's time for bed.

Lynn

August 30, 2007

TransAtlantic Disney Cruise - At Sea

August 23, 2007

Today is our second day at sea, we have one more port before starting the crossing part of our journey. I read trip reports in preparing for this trip where people encountered unexpected rough seas in the Mediterranean but we had 3 to 5 foot seas, not any different really from the Caribbean.

Mickey at Cove Cafe

Last night we set our clock back for the first of 6 extra hours we'll get on this voyage. We slept in until about 10 then went for breakfast.

We plan to spend most of today just sitting on deck chairs getting some sun, and we've found our perfect spot -- Deck 10 above the Quiet Cove pool. There are always chairs available and even though it's not adults only on Deck 10 it's still relatively quite. We turned our chairs around to face the railing and it's nice to have a view of the calm blue ocean, that you can't see from down on Deck 9. It's close to restrooms that are just inside the elevator lobby one floor down and it's much easier to get to the soda station by walking Deck 10 to the back of the ship and taking those stairs rather than dodging the ping pong players on Deck 9. I've always wished they had a soda station in Quiet Cove.

Disney Magic Smoke Stack

One more thing Disney really does right is that they don't charge for soda, most other cruise lines you can buy a soda package, but here you just go to the station and help yourself. If you order one from a bar though it's canned soda and they do charge for that.

Just aft of this spot beside the forward stack is a staircase that goes down right behind the gazebo in the Goofy pool area, it's great when the characters do appearances there you can walk right down those stairs to take pictures of them without wading through the crowd waiting to have their pictures taken by the Disney photographers.

Max and Goofy

Back on our first day in Barcelona we were talking to a lady who was waiting for the port bus with us, turns out she's with the Dream Team, who are awarding dreams to people in the WDW parks everyday as part of the year of a million dreams. They have 4 families on this cruise who won this trip just by being in the right place at the right time. We've seen them around the ship quite a bit they have two dream team members with them, the lady we were talking to,(I never got her name) and a videographer. Today they are set up next to us doing interview with all of the winners.

Our weather has been gorgeous and we spent all of today doing mostly nothing, apparently, because I have very few notes. I did note that in the Captain's noon public address he said we were sailing just 14 miles off the coast of Morocco, but there's a low haze and we can't see it.

Tonight we saw "The Art Of the Story" stage show. This is a show they put together just for the Med cruises, they needed extra shows since these cruises were all 10 & 11 day cruises and two that were 14 day trans Atlantic, instead of the usual 7 days they do in the Caribbean. I didn't read one good review this show, none that were terrible just not anyone who loved it.

They attempt to explain show elements such as lighting and color using movie clips and live scenes from various stage shows. I expected to like it even after reading the reviews as short scenes are usually perfect for my short attention span. But I have to say the reviews were right. It was especially uninspiring for those of us who go to the parks a lot, as the live scenes were just recycled from the parks stage shows. Oh Well it was still better than a night of television at home .

Dinner tonight was in Lumiere's and Belle and Beast came in for a visit.

Beauty and the Beast

That's the end of my notes but I believe this is the night we discovered they have Port in Sessions. They rest of the bars on the ship have been out of Port The server in Sessions told us they had gotten 3 bottles in Cadiz. She says there are a lot of Port drinkers on this cruise.

Only 3 bottles?

Lynn

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About August 2007

This page contains all entries posted to All Ears® Guest Blog in August 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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