Day Trips

Day Trip: Chittenango Falls State Park

DSCF5246

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.

DSCF0386

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.

20170603_111818

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?

59

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

8

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!

13

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

45

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.

25

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.

40

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!

41

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!

17

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.