Day Trips

Day Trip: Chittenango Falls State Park


Chittenango Falls State Park is a nice little day trip for us. It’s only about 45 minutes from our home, in the town of Cazenovia, NY. It’s a 167 ft. waterfall that is stunning from every angle. There’s a lot to do in the park itself. You could have a picnic or bbq, or hike the trails around the falls. You could also go fishing, the kids could use the playground or you could take a walk on the nature trail.

My husband and I hiked the trails around the falls and got some nice photos. It was such a perfect day, not too hot, not too cool. The hike down to the bridge that crosses Chittenango Creek isn’t too bad. There are mostly stairs created from giant rocks and in some areas there are man-made wooden stairs. Once you hike down one side of the falls, you can make a return trip up the other side, which takes you across the road to Chittenango Creek, which is also a beautiful area.

After our hike around the Falls, we were a little thirsty, so we headed to Empire Farm Brewery, which is also in Cazenovia.


Empire Brewing originated in Syracuse back in the early 90’s. The Empire Farm Brewery opened in 2016. The Farm Brewery cultivates their own hops, as well as various herbs and fruits. They had a freshly planted lavender field near the entrance.

The Empire Farm Brewery is also a restaurant and bar, which serves lunch and dinner 4 days a week (Thurs-Sun) and opens at 4pm the rest of the week. They had a tasting special, where you received 6 small glasses of beer for $13. We didn’t go that route, we opted for a single pint each. Next time we’re there, we’ll be a little more daring and try a mix of beers as they do have a quite a lot of original beer on tap.

Cheers to a fun day trip to Chittenango Falls and Empire Farm Brewery!

Finger Lakes Wineries

Finger Lakes: Winery Weekend

This past weekend, my husband and I celebrated our Anniversary with a trip to the Finger Lakes in New York. It’s a beautiful area, with over 100 wineries in and around the lakes, of which there are 11 total. We stayed at a beautiful Inn on Seneca Lake, called the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars.

On our way down to the Inn at Glenora, we stopped at several of the wineries along the way. Each of the wineries have wine tastings. It’s nice to get a sample of many of their wines. I usually find a favorite and purchase one (or two) after the tasting. A few of the Wineries we visited were Fox Run Vineyards, Anthony Road Wine Company and Miles Wine Cellars.

In addition to having fabulous wines, they are beautiful locations to visit. The views are spectacular and the atmosphere is very inviting. Many of the wineries have cafes, restaurants and host weddings or parties. It’s not uncommon to see tour busses full of bachelorettes celebrating a bridal shower.

The accommodations at the Inn at Glenora were wonderful. It was quiet, private and had amazing views. We were given a complimentary bottle of wine to enjoy upon our arrival as well as a free wine tasting. They also have a restaurant on premises called Veraisons. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had a more casual dinner in town (Dundee) and enjoyed breakfast at the Veraisons Restaurant. The food was wonderful, as was the view! I could have stayed there all day. We were so fortunate with the weather we had all weekend, there was barely a cloud in the sky.

This was such a nice way to celebrate our Anniversary. I can’t wait to go back, I mean, just look at the sunrise!

Carnival Pride May 2017

Carnival Pride: Debarkation & Wrap Up

We spent our final morning on the Pride heading down the Chesapeake Bay into Baltimore Harbor. We sailed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which was absolutely stunning, especially with the sun rising behind the bridge. It made for some great photos.

The debarkation process was fairly smooth. If you’re patient and just go with the flow, you’ll be just fine. We had “priority debarkation,” which in our case, didn’t mean we got off the ship first. The passengers that did self-assist got off first. We chose to have our luggage taken off the ship so we didn’t have to lug it down the stairs in a huge mass of people. We were in no hurry to get off the ship, so we took our time. We were told to meet in the Red Frog Pub and wait to be called. We were the first group to be allowed off the ship in the “non self-assist” group.

We walked down the gang-plank, practically sailed through customs, picked up our luggage and headed to the car. It was very simple and didn’t really take a lot of time or waiting. We were in our car and heading home by about 10:30am.

My thoughts on the cruise? It was fabulous. Would we change anything? Not really. Maybe participate in a few more activities? (I really wanted to do some trivia, but kept forgetting about it.)  Overall, it was a great vacation. We met some nice people and created some wonderful memories. It was so great in fact, that we booked the same cruise next year!

Here are a few more random shots from around the ship on our last day. As everyone else was in a rush to get home, we had the top few decks to ourselves.

So, what sort of travel plans do we have on tap next? Well, we’re taking a little trip to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York! We’ll be staying at an Inn at one of the Wineries on Seneca Lake. Check back soon to see all the details from our getaway!

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 7: Final Day at Sea

Our final day at sea was wonderful. The weather the whole week was spectacular, and the last full day was exceptional. There were barely any waves in the ocean, it was “as calm as you’ll ever see it” the captain said over the intercom.


It took us 7 days to find this little hidden gem. It was the top deck of the ship and by the looks of it, very few people knew about it. There were only 5 others up there with us. Granted there’s no pool and no bar, but there’s peace and quiet. It was a nice place to sit, catch some sun and relax.


We finally got to go to the Comedy club the final night. We had tried earlier in the week, but it was standing room only and always packed. We got there nice and early the final night and got great seats. We really enjoyed the shows. We saw a PG and R rated show, both were hysterical.

These were a few of the fabulous dishes I had in the Main Dining Room. We ate there every single night. I love the experience of eating out and being waited on. On a cruise, everything is pre-paid (aside from liquor) and you can eat whatever you want, so I love to have dinner there. Our wait staff was wonderful and so friendly. We got to know them through the course of the week. How nice is it to have your after dinner coffee delivered without even asking?


We found this guy on our bed on the final evening. We loved all the towel buddies and creativity of the housekeeping staff. Our steward, Domingo, was just wonderful. He really made us feel like royalty all week.

The worst part about the last day on a cruise is having to pack. We decided not to do the self-assist and have our bags taken down to the cruise terminal for us. That means you have to pack up the night before and leave your luggage outside your door by 11pm. But you also have to pre-plan and have everything you need to get ready the next day, including clean clothes and toiletries. We had a smaller carry-on bag that we were able to use for this purpose.

Next up, I’ll talk about the debarkation process, heading home and where we’re going next!

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 6: Freeport, Bahamas


Our final port of call was Freeport, Bahamas. This was supposed to be a fun stop for us, but our excursion was cancelled. We had booked the Brewery Tour, but were told during the cruise that it was a holiday the day we were going to be there, so the brewery was closed. We were very disappointed. I had booked that pretty far in advance and it was the only excursion we really wanted to do the whole cruise.

We docked fairly early and took our time getting ready. We had a nice breakfast and then ventured off the ship. The port was very industrial, but there was an area with local shopping and a few places to eat.

We wandered around the various shops. We tried to support the local economy and bought a few souvenirs to take back home. There were quite a few taxis that we could have taken to see the island, but we weren’t really sure where to go or what to do. We saw Senior Frogs and decided to have a drink. We noticed they had Bahamian Brewery beer (the Brewery we were supposed to visit) so we decided to get a bucket.

The beer was fantastic. I was so disappointed that we didn’t get to visit the brewery, but it was nice we were at least able to try some of their beer. We really tried to make the best of things, so we hung out at Senor Frogs for quite awhile and ended up having a great time. We sang songs, did shots, entered a drinking contest and enjoyed the day!


Cheers to our last port and an amazing vacation! Day 7 was our last “Fun Day at Sea” before we returned to Baltimore. Stay tuned for the wrap up and final thoughts.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 5: Half Moon Cay


Our second port of call was Half Moon Cay, a Carnival owned island in the Bahamas, also known as Little San Salvador Island. This port uses tenders to reach the shore. The 2 smaller boats above are shuttling people back and forth from the ship to shore.

We were one of the first tenders on the island due to our “Priority Debarking” status. We were lucky to get there early to get a nice spot under the few shade trees.

We ended up getting a “bucket” of beer (we got to keep the insulated bag!) and we also rented a couple of inner tubes. We spent the day floating in the blue water and having some nice adult beverages. It was such a relaxing day.

Just look how awesome that water was. And the weather was ideal. This was probably our favorite port of call, just because it was such a relaxing place. The tender wasn’t my favorite thing, it would be nice if they could build an actual port to dock the ships, but it was still an amazing island. We will absolutely be back.

After our great day at Half Moon Cay, we went back to the ship for food (and coffee!) That evening we went to a show in the Taj Mahal. We got to wear some fabulous 3D glasses for the show.

Day #6 was our final port of call: Freeport, Bahamas.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 4: Grand Turk

Carnival Pride
The Carnival Pride in Grand Turk

Our first port of call, after 2 1/2 days at sea was the small island of Grand Turk. This was the port I was most excited about visiting. I’d read a lot about it and was happy to finally be there. We did not plan any excursions here, we just really wanted to go to the beach.  I had read about a place called “Jack’s Shack” that was a little bit further down the beach than the area right off the ship. It was more private, more fun and less crowded. Not to mention, the drinks were cheaper and the water was even clearer. We were lucky to be the only ship in port that day, so the only people on shore would be from our ship.

When we got off the ship, we wandered around the cruise port area and walked through some of the shops. We decided to make any purchases on our way back so we didn’t have to carry anything down the beach. We headed down to Jack’s Shack, it was around 9am. The walk was not that long. The photo above with the ship in the background (middle right side) shows about how far down the beach it was. Maybe 1/2 mile, not too bad. The weather was perfect and the sand was amazing. There were a lot of locals trying to sell us excursions along the way, but we just smiled and said no thank you.


We finally arrived at Jack’s Shack. We were just about the first ones there. We sat at the bar for a while and had some bottled water. It was still early.

As the morning went on, we were joined by other fellow cruisers. We had some lovely adult beverages. I had a nice “imported” Coors Lite! (Well, I had many “imported” Coors Lites., but hey, we’re on vacation!)

Conch Fritters
Conch Fritters from Jack’s Shack

We ordered some local cuisine while we were there. These were the Conch Fritters. They were really good! They had a nice little spicy kick to them.


We enjoyed a little time in the water too. The water was SO perfect.

And it wouldn’t be a visit to Jack’s Shack without a little “Topher” time! This dog is awesome. He’s the main draw, people come from all over the world to meet Topher. He’s fun, and cute and loves to dig for crabs. And boy, can he jump!


And sadly, the day had to come to an end and we had to head back to the ship. I’m pretty sure that every cruise I go on from here on out will be required to stop in Grand Turk. We’ll be back next year, that’s for sure!


This was one of the only photographs we bought on the cruise. It was a nice surprise and we loved that it was such a nice candid shot.

Our next port of call was Half Moon Cay. Stay tuned for the bluest water and the softest sand in the world.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Days 2 & 3: Fun Days at Sea



The first 2 full days of our cruise were “Fun Days at Sea.” The first of which was Monday, May 29, which happened to be Memorial Day. The ship honored the day with a huge flag hanging in the Atrium.

We started the first day with a nice breakfast at the MDR. The dining room is open for breakfast/brunch on sea days only. We mostly relaxed during the days. One day we spent the whole morning on the Serenity Deck, which was lovely. You really have to get there early to get a chair though. (I’m talking 7:30am) It’s a very popular area of the ship.


Another nice thing about being not only on vacation, but on a cruise ship, is that nobody is driving. So nobody has to worry about driving home! So with that, we enjoyed a nice bucket of beer on the first day at sea. We sat on the Lido Deck at the Red Frog Rum Bar and enjoyed our beverages.

Also on the first sea day was “Cruise Elegant” night in the MDR. We tried to get a nice outdoor photo of the 2 of us, but it so windy my hair was going crazy! So we settled for these. We also didn’t purchase many of the “official” cruise photos. Just a personal choice, they’re so expensive and we end up wanting all of them. So we usually just pick a couple.

The Alchemy Bar had a “Martini Tasting” during one of the Sea Days. We loved that. Neither of us had tried Martini’s before, so this was a great introduction. And these were not traditional Martini’s. We chose 4 martini’s from a list and the bartender (aka “The Mixologist”) created our drinks right in front of us. It was fun to watch. The bottom drink (in the above collage) was “Forty is the New Twenty” which ended up being my favorite and I had to go back for more later in the week.

In the evenings on the Fun Days at Sea, there were shows in the Taj Mahal and Comedy Clubs. We opted to go to the Piano Bar one night. There was a Sing-A-Long with Jeff True Jones. He was fantastic. Funny and talented all in one.

Our 4th day on the Pride was also our first Port of Call. My next post will be all about our day in Grand Turk.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Day 1: Embarkation Day


The Carnival Pride

Embarkation Day finally arrived! It was a lovely morning weather-wise. We were allowed to board at Noon, so we had the whole morning to explore more of the Inner Harbor and grab some breakfast. There was a Starbucks in our hotel, then we just walked around the Harbor some more. We found this right across the street from our hotel:

Charm City Cakes, Baltimore, MD


Why did we not see this earlier?! It was a Sunday and they didn’t open until Noon. We’d be boarding the ship by then, I was so disappointed.

Anyway, back to the real reason we were in Baltimore!

We arrived at the Port around 11:45am. We got in a long line of cars, many of which were being told to leave and come back later. We were fortunate enough to have Priority boarding, so we were waved right in. We drove down to an area where they were loading luggage onto big carts. All we had to do was open our back hatch and they were right there to take our luggage. We then parked, walked over to the terminal and got in line. We went through security and got our sign & sail cards. 45 minutes after arriving at the port, we were on board!

Within 30 minutes of being on board, these were ordered and in our hands. There is nothing more satisfying than your first umbrella drink. And it was as delicious as it looks.

We were able to access our room right when we got on board since we were in an Ocean Suite. (We splurged for a suite, and it was SO worth it!)

With the suite came some nice amenities, such as Priority Embarking and Debarking. This alone was a fantastic perk. We also had a load of laundry done for us. Not to mention, we had a giant room, with a Jacuzzi tub and a HUGE balcony. I think we’ll have a hard time going backwards after having all of this luxury.

This kind of shows how large the outdoor space was. We had 3 chairs, a table and a lounge chair. And plenty of space to move around.

After settling in, having our first drink and attending a “Meet-and-Greet” for a group we met on Facebook, we wandered around the ship to figure out where things were. Our cabin was on Deck 6, the Empress Deck. This was a nice centrally located area.

Deck 2 was the Promenade Deck. The Main Dining Room and the Alchemy Bar were here, as well as the Casino, the Sports Bar, the Red Frog Pub. The Atrium is also on Deck 2 as well as a new Sushi restaurant. Also on this deck is the main entrance to the Taj Majal.

Deck 3 was the Atlantic Deck that had an outside Promenade. Deck 3 was the deck with all the shops, the Photo Gallery, Piano Bar, and an entrance to the Taj Mahal and Comedy Club. There was also the “Sunset Garden” Promenade, which was a lovely, quiet area to walk or relax with portholes to gaze out into the ocean. (Top right photo above.)

Deck 9 was the Lido Deck. This is where all the action is as well as the buffet. The Serenity (adults 21+) area is at the back of the ship on the Lido Deck.

Those were the places we visited the most. And our room was right in between all the fun. Plus it was very quiet on the Empress Deck. We’re active people, so we took the stairs pretty much the whole week. A little exercise is a good thing while you’re on vacation!


It started raining just before the sail-away, which didn’t make for nice photographic opportunities. We got a few pictures, but didn’t stay outside very long. The nice thing about the rainy sail-away, it was just about the last bit of rain we had all week. So if it was going to rain at all, I’ll take it on the first day and be done with it.

We dined in the Main Dining Room (MDR) every night of the cruise. The first night we were without table mates, so it was just the 2 of us. I’ll do a post about the food and experience in the MDR later in the week. We enjoyed dining there and had a fabulous wait staff.


After dinner, we went to the Lido deck for the first of many “Dive-In Movies.” The first night was “Ghostbusters 2.” We had already seen the movie, but it was fun, so we hung around. After the movie, we were beat and headed back to the room. It had a been a long day and we needed some rest.

Our first “Fun Day at Sea” tomorrow! Stay tuned for another post.

Carnival Pride May 2017

Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean


On May 28, my husband and I embarked on a much-deserved journey to the Caribbean. Just 10 months earlier, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer. He had his last treatment on March 14. It was a very long and painful road for him. On April 12, he was declared cancer-free. We decided we needed a vacation to celebrate. We thought a cruise would be perfect, although he did have his heart set on Disney World. A cruise however would be more relaxing. Something he desperately needed. As much fun as Disney would have been, we thought a cruise would be best this time. We’ll get to Disney another time!

We decided to cruise from Baltimore. Aside from NYC, it was the closest city to our home where Carnival had a departure port. It was less expensive than NYC and so much easier to get to. It was about a 5 hour drive for us. We did some research on Baltimore and decided that going to the Inner Harbor the day before would be a fun pre-vacation warm-up.


We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn on President Street in the Inner Harbor. This was the view from our room. The hotel was in a great location, we were able to walk everywhere. For dinner, we went to the Hard Rock Café, then we walked up to Presidential Hill over looking the Inner Harbor.

The Inner Harbor area was fairly crowded as it was a Saturday evening.  There were museums, an aquarium, lots of restaurants and tons of retail stores. There was even a place to rent a Chinese Dragon Paddle Boat so you could paddle around an area in the harbor. There were few large vessels that were filling up with dinner cruise guests. It was quite a hopping area with great energy. It was a perfect way to start to our vacation.

My next post will be embarkation day. Stay tuned!