Borgarfjörður Puffins! (Tourist Time)

Where we lived in East Iceland was just a couple of hours away from Borgarfjörður, a tiny village with a bird estuary that provided a fabulous nesting ground for puffins and other bird life. For us it was the puffin that held our full attention!

Over this summer vacation I’m taking trips of another kind. Of a Thursday I’m traveling down memory lane, reminiscing a little about all the traveling we’ve done to various parts of the world as a family!

 

 

 

 

Snow Toppers

As interesting as the Prince of Wales Fort, a historic fort on Hudson Bay across the Churchill River from Churchill, Manitoba was, I couldn’t help but notice the waning vegetation around it.

Arctic Snow Topping

The children on the other-hand who weren’t enjoying the minus zero temperatures blowing on their faces kept asking… “mum, how much longer?”

The Color of Spring!

When visiting Vancouver, although we spent the majority of time in the downtown area, Miss Ten and I did venture down to the waterfront on the Sunday afternoon as it was a gloriously sunny afternoon.

On our way back to our hotel we walked through a park that was lined either side with Cherry Blossoms. To add to this beauty fairy-lights were strung through-out the trees.

Cherry Blossom Blooms - simply glorious!

The sun by this time was dipping behind the mountains signaling the end of the day. As the evening skies enveloped us these lights cast a magical glow amongst the petals.

Purple Blossoms - Cherry Blossoms only just budding!

As we walked under these illuminated blooms our imaginations went into over-drive – images of tiny creatures flitting from branch to branch, their petal skirts billowing behind them as they sipped upon the evening dew – all without a hint of… “mum, how much longer?”

A faded memory…

Over the Spring Break Miss Ten and I spent a few days in Vancouver soaking up the atmosphere, the restaurants, and the coffee shops. Oh, and there might have been a spot or two of shopping! 🙂

Of all the things we experienced whilst away my favorite time of the day was first thing in the morning. Whilst Miss Ten was still in dream-land I enjoyed reading the daily papers that had been slipped under the door. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I read a national paper in its entirety!

Quiet time

After an hour or so of catching up on all the latest current events and weather, instead of feeling ready to attack the day I felt rather like Miss Poppy looks right now…

Kitty Kat

Our first morning there we were out and about even before some of the shops were ready for us; by the last day I think we managed to drag ourselves out of the hotel room by early afternoon, lol!

Oh how quickly elation can turn to exhaustion putting an entirely new meaning on… “mum, how much longer?”

Reality Bites :(

We arrived home late last night all according to schedule but thoroughly exhausted wondering how we’d get through today. Hubby was out the door first, followed by the children and I next.

Neither child was particularly keen to be going to school and surprise surprise, Miss Ten called at lunch time to be collected but her teacher was a wake-up to her, sending her home with so much homework it would have been easier to stay at school, lol!

Everyone was only to happy to tell me they’d like to be me who was staying home all day but guess what my job was. To empty and redistribute the contents to all these.

Time to go...

The washing machine and dryer did NOT stop all day, and there’s still more to be done tomorrow along with the hand-washing. And let’s not forget all the souvenirs that needed homes.

Oh yes, I’m definitely to be envied, lol! Yet as I finished one suitcase and opened the next to begin it all I could think was… “mum, how much longer?”

New Orleans to Kitimat…

Today as we make our way back to Kitimat, Canada from New Orleans, one can only reflect on the incredible day we had yesterday exploring New Orleans.

Waking up in New Orleans

Breakfast was a great start. Oh. My. Gosh. It was dee-lish! Eggs Benedict with a  cajun-like hollandaise sauce over the poached egg on a crab cake on grits with colored potato hash. Fabulous!

Breakfast New Orleans Style

Then it was onto Bourbon Street which was and wasn’t what I expected with all it’s souvenir shops and restaurants.

Bourbon Street Sign

At least the boys looked good on it whilst cruising it!

The boys on Bourbon Street

Evidence of Mardi Gras past were here, there and everywhere. Our favorite where the array of beads hanging across Bourbon Street. From afar it might not look that impressive.

Bourbon Street Beads

But underneath it, WOW! Sure beats the Australian habit of tying a pair of shoes together by its laces then throwing them over power lines. Sad but true.

Bourbon Street Beads Up Close and Personal

The boys and girls had separated after breakfast, with each group doing their own thing before we met up again for some hydration at, where-else, but Hard Rock. So whilst I enjoyed a Groupie Grind (yes tragic name but fabulous cocktail)…

Hard Rock Groupie Grind

The children played cards. Don’t you just love a pack a cards, it really is the game that can go anywhere!

Card sharks at Hard Rock

From here we took a stroll around the French Quarter, with Royal Street quickly becoming very much a favorite for various reasons.

Royal Street - we loved it!

For the children it was the window displays that they favored. There’s nothing like a live pussy-cat lying in a window to draw attention.

Artistic Pussy Cat

For us it was the street performers. This group of five were so versatile, swapping instruments and playing different genres.

Talented Street Performers

This seed pod I came across on the foot-path was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, having no idea what tree it may have come from.

Extraordinary Seed Pod

Dinner had to be eaten on Bourbon Street so naturally we went to Bourbon House. We weren’t disappointed.

Bourbon House Sign

Who knew seafood and bourbon could be combined in one meal, and a salad at that. The bourbon dressing on the salad was okay but the fried oysters… outstanding!

Deep fried oysters

These Louisiana oysters that Hubby ordered were HUGE but remarkably tasty!

Oysters New Orleans Style

One couldn’t be in New Orleans and not have ‘gator. These balls were made of alligator meat and very, very tasty with the three different sauces!

Alligator balls

New Orleans, if only we could have had more time to visit with you…

Another tick off the Bucket List!

For our last port of call of our cruise we finished on quite the high in Cozumel, Mexico. How beautiful was this sunrise?

Sunrise over cozumel - beautfiul!

The lighthouse looked a tad different once the sun had risen but the best was yet to come.

Cozume Lighthouse

For the longest time both children (and parents for the that matter) have wanted to swim with the dolphins but age restrictions prevented it so had to console ourselves with merely feeding and kissing dolphins. Not really the same but NOT so today!

HLR loving his dolphin ride

Today we all SWAM with the dolphins!

MMR enjoying her dolphin ride

We also danced with the dolphins.

Hubby enjoying a dance with a dophin

And cuddled the dolphins!

Mama having a snuggle of a different kind

There were also kisses and dolphin whispers to be had before we headed off to snorkel at the same establishment followed by a lite lunch. What an exhilarating day – these dolphins were just magnificent!

Jumping Dolphins

With temperatures nudging the mid-30’s again, once we’d finished our incredible dolphin encounter we took the children back to the ship to kidz club before Hubby and I headed out again ourselves.

You see, this was our fifth Mexican port of call but we’d yet to have a Corona. This situation needed to be rectified immediately and Hard Rock was the perfect venue.

Finally having a Corona in Mexico

This would have had to be one of the smallest Hard Rock’s we’d ever visited. There wasn’t a crumb in sight unfortunately as we’d been looking forward to a Hard Rock Nachos so finished our beers to walk 20 meters to Hooters for this. We weren’t disappointed!

Afternoon snack at Hooter

Making our way back to the ship, we marveled yet again at not only the brilliant blue of the water, but as to how clear the waters were. When docking this morning, we were able to see the ocean floor. Not often that happens!

The Blue Oceans of the Day

Our last port of call, an absolutely brilliant day, a fabulous end to our fabulous cruise… sniff, sniff 😦

An afternoon in Cartagenas!

By the time we had visited the markets in the Old City of Cartagena’s yesterday, which incidentally were originally dungeons, the children had had it. They done so well in the heat but it was excruciating so after we’d been dropped off back at the ship, we had lunch with them, deposited them at kidz club, then headed back down to the dock since it was a late departure.

The plan was to take a taxi back into the Old City for some serious shopping but you know what happens with best laid plans… they seldom happen. Particularly when you come across a field of pink flamingoes!

Flamingoes

There was quite the assortment of animals in this park. My goodness there was even a deer, well perhaps a deer’s cousin!

A deer or not a deer, that is the question

There were even the obligatory peacocks strutting around but it was around the corner that we discovered the true wonderland with bird-life.

Macawl cuties - we couldn't get enough

There seemed to be Macaws in every direction we looked. It was glorious!

A couple of birds out for a chat

Selfies with a Macaw proved easier said then done as this one at least much preferred to preen then look at the camera.

Macawl selfies

Preen, preen, preen, that’s all it wanted to do!

Macawls are so cute - even when preening!

We were impressed with the Macaws until we looked up to see Howler Monkeys above us. Hello cutie! 🙂

Howler Monkey - how cute is he?

We almost walked over the top of this colorful creature taking a time-out on the path. The photo is a tad blurry as some fool was attempting to kick it whilst we took photos. In this twots defense I do think he was trying to help the Toucan by shooing it off the path but his approach was a little too much unfortunately.

Tricky toucan - an intersting speedbump!

This next bird was actually the most brilliant orange but being in such dense foliage didn’t make for such a good photograph but I still wanted to share.

A bird that brilliant orange in reality

We had to take a second-look at these ducks to determine if they were real or plastic, they were just beautiful. Oh, and they were real!

Ducks looking like plastic

There was the most delightful cafe in the midst of this park where we hoped to sit and enjoy a nice cold drink as we watched the wildlife strut by but apparently there’d been a boat-load of Australians through hence there wasn’t even a lite-beer available, dang it. Why did we get the feeling this flamingo was laughing at us?!

Dancing Flamingo

Back on board we left the children at kidz club whilst we enjoyed the champagne we’d bought for our Panama Canal crossing but never had a chance to drink.

Another bonus was as it was a late sailing the children were having dinner at kidz club so once we finished the champagne we strolled down to the ship’s French restaurant where we were seated at a table by the window, able to watch Cartagena’s night sky-line disappear behind us.

Cartagena night sky line

What an absolutely delightful day, simply perfect!

What an AMAZING day, AGAIN!!!

It’s been astounding how many times this cruise that from just a basic plan for the day, the most phenomenal day eventuates.

Then again, when a submarine sails directly past your balcony first thing in the morning, you get a hint that something wonderful is about to unfold.

Excuse me theres a submarine outside our window

This structure we passed on our way into port also had us intrigued – fort or prison do you think?

Interesting buildings on the way to port

The men of the family were very excited when we left the ship for our tour bus, they convinced themselves I was surprising them with this gift. As if!

Surprise boyz... NOT!

It was only just on 9am but the thermometer was already sitting at 35C when we arrived at our first stop, the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. A fortress built in the early 1600’s. It was certainly magnificent, but with the heat and humidity, ugh. 😦

Standing in front of the old city

We saw a lot of colored every day buses driving around the city. The reason they are colored is that “back in the day” not many people could read so instead of writing destinations on the buses, they simply colored each particular destination a particular color and, well its kinda stuck!

Colored Coded Buses

Our next stop put a smile on the dial the little people – a horse and carriage ride around the old city.

Heading off on our horse and carriage ride

In 1984 this walled city was heritage listed by UNESCO World Heritage Site and understandably so. This city is just gorgeous.

Old city roof tops

These colorful buildings were the first we saw after we rode through the gates – it was love at first sight!

Colorful houses

The architecture was so very different through out this city. The children found the various artwork scattered around the city quite interesting also!

Quite an interesting square

Whilst some buildings have been restored beautifully…

Loving this architecture

Some yet to receive some tender loving care…

Restoration work yet to be completed

Some of the street performers we saw had our complete and total admiration as the heat and humidity was unbearable.

Unusual street performers

The street vendors also had our admiration having to carry such large amounts of produce around in such temperatures.

Local fruit seller

And this was just our morning, lol, I’ll save our afternoon adventures until tomorrow since it’s a sea day!

Crossing the Panama Canal!

This morning I was awake before sunrise I was so excited about crossing the Panama Canal. This is such a HUGE bucket list item ticked off my list.

The morning of the crossing

The four of us headed up to the bow of the ship just after 6am to watch the passing of the first lock. Even at that early hour it was HOT, and I do mean hot but that wasn’t going to deter my crossing viewing, especially with Panama City looming on the horizon.

The Panama sky-line

After passing under Panama’s bridge we knew our true adventure wasn’t far away!

Farewelling Panama before the first lock

Then it was time for the first of what was going to be three locks we passed through today. The entire process was amazing how on either side of the ship four locomotives (like the one below) were keeping cables attached to the ship taunt to help the ship remain steady and in place as we sailed into place to await the lock filling with water.

Centenary locomative keeping the ship steady

There were ships both behind us and in front of us crossing with us. The efficiency as to how quickly we all took our turns was incredible when you see how narrow each lock is.

Sailing into the lock for phase 1 of our crossing

There really is between only 20 or 30 centimeters either side of the ships. Hence the necessity to keep the ships as stationary as possible in the locks.

Not much room to spare at all

Sailing into Miraflores Lock was like nothing else we’d ever experienced. That’s Hubby and I circled in red watching diligently from the bow!

Crossing the Panama Canal

The gates had me mesmerized. How could these structures in all honesty work so quickly and hold so much water?!

Panama Crossing Lock 1

The locks filled up extraordinarily quickly.

Locks filling up

I honestly couldn’t keep my eyes from these gates. Knowing how old they were also had me intrigued!

The Locks themselves

We were watching the gates beside us as much as we were watching those in front of us. Simply incredible!

Locks opening from above

From our vantage point, we were determined not to miss a single thing! One quickly forgets how big the ship actually is until looking at it from this direction. Once again, that’s Hubby and I circled in red!

Looking headon to the Ship

All in all I think we stayed at the bow for three hours that morning, even suffering a mild case of heat stroke, but it was SO worth it as I think our grins can attest to!

Big Smiles at the Lock

The children I’d like to say lasted an hour at the bow but I fear I could be exaggerating. For them the sanctuary of the cabin was far more enjoyable.

Little people looking over Panama Crossing

I remember when, as a family many years ago, we were watching a series on television about the seven great engineering feats of the world where the Panama Canal was one of them. It was at that moment all four of us vowed that one day we would cross it. We hadn’t realized at the time it would be quite so soon – what an incredible experience!