Wow, it has been awhile since my last blog post!
I am happy to report that I have several adventures ahead in 2017 so I am ready to get back to blogging.
So far I will be heading out for the following trips:
- In just one week, I will be heading to Florida for a travel agent education program. I will be touring Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, visiting Universal Orlando hotels and spending some time in Disney as well.
- In March, I will be going to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock 8K and Half Marathon. I am meeting friends there for the race and going to enjoy Williamsburg for a few days after the races.
- May is the big one! My husband and I will be sailing for 15 nights on the Disney Magic across the Atlantic. We have 5 port stops after we cross and I am so excited to go!
- June will be my annual ladies trip to Cape May. That is always fun and relaxing.
- November will be a big family trip to Disney. We will be a party of 9, with 5 adults and 4 kids. It is going to be interesting to handle planning for a group of that size but I am looking forward to the that trip as well.
In between, I hope to share some travel tips and other information about traveling.
So stay tuned!
Last Friday, I took my niece, age 3, to Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA. It was the first visit there for both of us.
Before Memorial Day, the park is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The park has two sections – dry and wet. The “wet” side, which is all the water park type rides, is not open before Memorial Day. This was just fine with us and we took advantage of a quiet day there since all the local schools were still in session.
We started our visit with a character dining experience called Breakfast with Elmo. There was an admission cost for the breakfast in addition to your park admission. The park does not open until 10 am, however we were able to enter at 9 am for the breakfast.
Upon arrival, we were greeted and told which table would be ours. Each table was numbered so there was no need to search out a seat. Because of the low attendance that day, there were less than half of the tables being used.
The breakfast consisted of a buffet with your standard hot and cold food items. There was definitely something for everyone to enjoy. While you are eating, the characters come around to interact and take photos. Elmo was in a special location in one corner of the room. You could visit him whenever you like and a photographer would take a picture for you with him in front of a backdrop. Those photos were then brought to your table as a package available for purchase.
We finished up with about 5 minutes to spare before the park opened. There were employees in the main hub area holding back guests until 10 am when the rest of the park opened.
In the dry ride area, there are many rides that are similar to amusement park attractions but all themed to Sesame Street characters. It is important to note that children need to ride with someone who is at least 14 years of age. While this was fine for my niece and myself, I saw how this posed a challenge for other families and school groups that were visiting with multiple children and only one adult.
Another important note is that you are not allowed onto the rides with any bags or loose items. There are lockers available to rent if you do not have someone in your party that can hold items for you. I used a small fanny pack which worked out great.
My niece loved all of the attractions. Because it was not crowded, we were able to go on everything that she wanted to several times before noon. Then we took a break for “Elmo the Musical.” This was a 20-minute show starring Elmo and Cookie Monster. The theater was small but with low crowds we walked right in and had a great seat. The show was cute and had the kids in the audience engaged in searching for items around the room.
After the show, we took a lunch break. Again, there are a few different areas to purchase food but only one was open on this day. There was a long line but it moved along at a decent pace. There were standard kid’s meals, adult meals and some salads. Prices ranges were $9 – 12.
Unfortunately, when we had finished our lunch, it had started to rain. We knew this was a possibility and it was great that we got in all the rides that we did before the rain began. We hit up a gift shop and then called it a day.
Overall, I think Sesame Place is a great experience for preschool children. Friends have told me that the water park section is fun for the whole family so older children could be entertained as well when those rides are open. I will say that it could be a challenge when it is a hot and crowded summer day. The rides load slowly and then you need to wait for that to finish for it to unload and re-load. I could see how this would lead to long wait times and unhappy kids and adults in the summer heat.
We had a fun day and my niece says she wants to go back again!
This blog has been quiet for too long! Time to get going with some new adventures.
This past weekend I went to "The Science of Pixar" exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
The exhibit started out with a five minute introduction video that takes you through the process of creating a Pixar movie.
Then you enter into the first room of the exhibit. Each stage of the process that was described in the video is presented with a more detailed video and a hands on activity.
It was relatively quiet the morning that I visited so I was able to take my time and experience each activity. Since this was the main focus of the entire exhibit, if it had been more crowded, it would have been hard to get very much out of the experience.
There were also several large Pixar characters scattered throughout the exhibit for photos. It wasn't clear if you were allowed to touch them or take your pictures with them...though there was no sign that said you couldn't.
The second room of the exhibit followed the same layout of video kiosks and activity. And then the final area was small gift shop with all Pixar related merchandise.
With almost no crowds, it took about 90 minutes to fully explore the exhibit and I enjoyed it very much. Obviously, I knew that Pixar films were computer animated but I guess I thought it was animators just using pre-existing computer software. It was impressive to see how much math and programming the animators do to evolve the process and get even more realistic effects.
I wouldn't recommend the exhibit for children under age 10, unless the child is very interested in math / computers.
The exhibit will continue until September at the Franklin Institute and you can purchase tickets online.
Boston was our last port of call. It took us awhile to decide what we should do in this port. Boston is about a 5 hour drive for us and we both had been there before.
We decided to take an excursion that was a walking tour of the Beacon Hill area with a stop at Cheers.
We took a bus to the Beacon Hill area and then we started our tour. I had never been to that area and it was interesting to hear the history as well as what is like to live in that area today. We went into the Boston Public Library and found beautiful artwork and a courtyard area. At around the halfway point, we stopped at the "Cheers" bar. The show "Cheers" used the outside of the bar as the outside of the bar on the show. Our tour included a drink there which was a nice break.
The tour was listed as a moderate activity level and it was definitely correctly labeled. After 3 hours of walking with some decent uphill areas, we were definitely feeling it.
Our tour ended at Quincy Market. We were given a coupon for a shuttle bus ride back to the port. At that point, we could spend as much time as we were like at Quincy Market and then return to the port. We walked around a bit and had lunch (lobster mac and cheese, yum!!).
Our third port of call was Halifax, Nova Scotia. We did a 1/2 day excursion to Peggy's Cove. It was about an hour drive on the bus and our guide was great at giving us an overview of Halifax on the way.
We again had about an hour to walk around Peggy's Cove. We walked to the lighthouse and around the cove area a bit. Again, it was very crowded with other tour groups. There were some small shops to look in but we didn't get a chance to do that.
We still had the whole afternoon when we got back to the port. There was a visitor's desk and we asked for a map. The woman working there not only gave us a map but she showed us exactly where different things were and how far it was to walk to each.
We decided to walk along Harborwalk. We stopped in a restaurant called The Bicycle Thief and had a very tasty lunch. There were other shops and restaurants along the way as well. The weather was beautiful that day so it was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Our second port of call was Bar Harbor. This was a tender port which means we had to take a small boat to get to the port. It is a process so you have to add at least an hour to your time to allow you to get to the excursion area on time.
Today's excursion was the "Best of Acadia National Park" with lunch. While we were on a motor coach for the tour, there were several stops to get out and take pictures. We went to the top of Cadillac Mountain for some great views. We also experienced Thunder Hole where waves crash into a small cave like area and sound like thunder.
This excursion included lunch which was an authentic lobster bake. There was steak available for those that requested it. It was delicious. The lobster was great but my favorite were the mussels.
By the time we returned to the excursion area, we only had time to get on line for the tender back to the ship. We would have liked to look more around the main street area with shops and restaurants but we ran out of time. We ended up being on the last tender back to the ship.
Our first port of call was Portland, Maine. We did an excursion called "Best of Portland and Kennebunkport." We tend to do the "best of" excursions so we can get a taste of the area.
We boarded a motor coach and had a guide that explained about the history of Portland and sites to see in the city as we made our way out to Fort Williams Park to see our first lighthouse of the trip. We were allowed about an hour to walk around the lighthouse area. There were some paths that had the posted miles to complete. We didn't have time to do a full path but we walked in a bit and then turned around to head back to the bus.
We then had about a 45 minute ride to Kennebunkport. Again we had about an hour there. It is a very small town and there were many tour buses there so it was pretty crowded. We chose to use our time having a nice lunch at Allison's. I was able to get a lobster roll there which was great.
Then it was back on the bus to head back to the port.
We did have about 90 minutes before all aboard time but there wasn't much to do in the area around the port so we just called it a day for Portland.
I have recently returned from a 9 night cruise on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. We left from Bayonne, NJ and sailed to Portland, ME, Bar Harbor, ME, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Boston, MA.
Today's post is about the ship. We had 3600 passengers on our cruise through the ship can hold more.
We had a balcony room and found the room to have a lot of space.
The central area of the ship is called the Royal Promenade. It looks like a mall area and it does have shopping and food locations. It was also the central hub for many ship activities. We loved walking around that area or just sitting to people watch.
While our cruise was on the chilly side, I did take a walk around the upper deck to see all the pools and other activities.
There is a kids splash zone and family pool and an adult only section with its own pool. There is a rock climbing wall and mini golf as well as the Flowrider, which allows you to try your hand at surfing.
The fitness center had a full size boxing ring, space for classes and plenty of machines. There is also a jogging track on the top deck.
There is a casino which is open when the ship is in International Waters. I spent most evenings playing some slots after dinner and even played a slots tournament which was fun.
I went to 8 of the 9 evening shows on board. There were several nights of different variety acts, like a juggler and magician. There was also an aerial show and Saturday Night Fever, which was the only Broadway style show of the cruise (it was my favorite of all the shows).
The ship also has an ice skating rink on board (yes, you can rent skates and go ice skating) so they also do an ice show. You have an assigned time at some point during the cruise to see that show. I enjoyed that as well.
Several times the Royal Promenade becomes the center of an event. On the first night, there was the Move It, Move It parade. The whole center space is used while different characters from Shrek, Madgascar and Kung Fu Panda dance and get the whole crowd involved.
There was a 70s dance party there also one night.
There are some activities that do cost a small fee but are definitely worth it. I did a wine tasting on the last sea day that was very informative and had great wine.
My favorite activity was cupcake decorating. Even if you have no experience, the chef is great at demonstrating and walking you through the process. By the end, we had all made a cute cupcake puppy! We got to take it back to our room to enjoy later.
While I am still going to blog here from time to time about bigger adventures - and there is one coming up in October - I'm going to be sharing more regularly on my facebook page.
So come on over there and check it out. And, of course, "likes" and "shares" are always welcome!
The big day had arrived!
Our dress rehearsal wasn’t until the afternoon so I met up with my friends one last time for breakfast. They had bought tickets to the concert but there would be no time for me to see them before or after the show. We once again had fun talking away over a nice breakfast.
I had time for a quick change at the hotel as our attire needed to be business casual for the dress rehearsal.
Everything was very organized. We had been assigned a bus according to the rows we were sitting in on the stage. So we when we got off of the bus, we were lined up and ready to go.
We arrived at Kennedy Center and had about 30 minutes before rehearsal to walk around and take some pictures. It is a huge building with more than one theater. There was nothing else going on at the time so we had the whole place to ourselves to explore.
Then it was time to line up and head out onto the stage. The orchestra was already in place so we filed in and had a few minutes to take it all in. It is a beautiful stage and theater. It was very impressive to see how large it was and all the empty seats, knowing that they would all be full that evening as the show was sold out.
The dress rehearsal went smoothly and again we finished ahead of time which was especially good news this time since there was only a small window of time for the bus ride back to the hotel to change into the concert attire and then get back on the bus to go back to Kennedy Center.
Everyone was so excited as we made our way to the stage. We were seated about 20 minutes before the show started so we just sat and watched everyone come in. I saw my friends arrive and was able to give them a little wave.
As Steven Curtis Chapman came out and the show started, he said that he felt like an energizer bunny during the Carnegie Hall show and that he wanted to slow down and really enjoy this one. And that was exactly the feeling that I had during the show. It still went by too quickly and as soon as it was over I wanted to do it again but there was more of a sense of taking it all in and enjoying it this time.
The show was amazing. The audience really seemed to enjoy it and everything went well. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to perform first at Carnegie Hall and now at Kennedy Center. Both experiences have been so positive and rewarding.
But wait.. the evening wasn’t over yet! As we did after the Carnegie Hall show, the entire choir went on a celebration dinner cruise.
I will be honest and say that this was not a favorite part of the trip. There are over 200 people and a small bar and buffet area. We spent most of the evening on line trying to get a drink or dinner. The ship is designed for these events so I don’t know why it isn’t handled better. It is frustrating and not enjoyable.
The only good part about the dinner cruise was that Steven Curtis Chapman came out with his wife to say a few words. He had done the same after the Carnegie Hall concert. Again, he thanked us for being a part of the concert and the weekend. He said once again that he considers us ‘his’ choir and he hopes to continue to do these experiences in the years ahead (Yay!).
We disembarked from the boat and were taken back to the hotel. It was time to say goodbyes as that was the end of the weekend. Everyone was on their own for travels back home the next day.
I can’t say enough how much I loved this weekend. It was great to catch up with good friends from Baltimore and choir friends. It was amazing to sing on stage at Kennedy Center. And it was a blessing to spend time with Steven Curtis Chapman once again. I hope there are other weekends like this in the future and I hope I am lucky enough to be a part of them again.
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.