Saturday, 27 August 2011

Baa Ha Ba, Maine

Bar Harbor’s one of those places you read about a lot and see quite a bit of in movies. I swear I saw this one hotel close to the shore where they may have filmed American pie 3, the wedding. But don’t quote me on that coz it’s been a while since I last saw that movie. 

Anyway, I wanted to see a bit of it and buy the obligatory magnet. Luckily, it wasn’t too busy in the kitchen so we had some time to go ashore and do some sightseeing. I went out with Armand and Giovani, two of the nicest Bisaya guys I work with, and my now official photographer, Randy. Hahaha. Just kidding. But really, most of the credit for my pictures goes to him and his awesome camera.

We just shopped around a bit. I got this cute magnet which I just couldn’t resist. It looks like a small Maine plate number which says Baa-Ha-Ba. I guess that’s how a lot of the locals say it? Anyway, it’s a great addition to my collection.

It was a really warm day, such a change from all the really cold countries we just came from. In short, a great day for some ice cream. I got a small cone with a scoop of whoopie pie ice cream (love the cookie and marshmallow combo) and Randy got one called Crazy for Coconut. The ice cream store we went to had a lot of crazy flavors which we stayed away from. I think there was one called Lobster something. Ha!

All in all, a good day to take a break from my daily routine on the ship and see a bit of this charming little city. Maybe next time there’ll be time for some real-deal Maine lobster. We shall see. :)


Frrrreeezing in Nanortalik, Greenland

It was too cold to go out and I didn’t have too much time (just a little more than an hour), so I decided to sleep instead. Heehee. But I wanted to at least catch a glimpse of this place so here are a couple of pictures from our open deck.

It’s beautiful, right? With lots of icebergs and large, almost barren mountains all around this small village.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Akureyri, Iceland

Alright, so I have trouble pronouncing the name of this place but there’s one thing I know for sure: Akureyri is absolutely beautiful. Its snowcapped mountains, adorable colored houses and charming streets simply took my breath away.

We only had about two hours to explore this small city so first stop was the souvenir store for our magnets. I got this cute metallic Viking magnet for me and a rubber Icelandic sheep magnet for my cousin Alyssa who also collects them. While looking around in the store, I fell in like with this really nice pullover but I gasped when I saw the pricetag. It was marked at 74,000 Iceland kroners, roughly 74 US dollars, or about 3,100 pesos. Holy crap. Nevermind. Everything here is super dee duper expensive.

After the shopping trip, we walked around their charming city. It’s very rural with narrow streets and small buildings. I absolutely loved it. Coupled with the view of their lush green mountains, I started thinking I wouldn’t mind living here at all. We just wandered around until we saw this hill with what looked like a church building on top. I wheezed my way up several flights of stairs, but it was worth it. The view from the top was totally breathtaking. We could see the ship, the city, the hills, the water, everything. I know I’m gushing right now but I’m not sure I can find the appropriate words to describe this place. Maybe the pictures will speak for me, instead.  

my mom and pop. lol. :)

breathtaking, right?

can you see the snow on the mountains?

how do you say this streetname?

i would like to order this, pls. just don't ask me to say it out loud. :)


climbing up those stairs made me hungry. time for some doritos and their local icelandic beer called Gull. Only 2.5% alcohol.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Belfast, Northern Ireland

My chef was in a good mood yesterday when he said everybody in the pastry kitchen could get off early. Anyway, it wasn’t that busy in the ship with all of our passengers going out to see Belfast.  I could’ve jumped for joy. I almost did. I really really wanted to go out and see Ireland. It’s one of those countries that you read about so often you already have a picture of it in your head.

Supposedly, it was going to be me and two of the pastry guys I work with. However, my friend Ian went awol on us (he was too tired to go out I guess and he knew I’d try to talk him into it) so it was just me and my other friend Randy. He’s really cool to drag along every time I go offshore because he doesn’t mind taking my photos (heehee) and he collects magnets as well so we’re pretty much on the same wavelength.      

It’s about a 10 minute bus ride from the dock to Donegall place, the central area of Belfast because that’s where their city hall and much of their commercial area is located. Our first stop was the tourist desk because we wanted to get a map of the city. We wound up staying there for almost thirty minutes. Strategically, right beside their info desk was a big store where you can buy souvenirs including our prerequisite magnets. I got a stained glass one with the map of Ireland and Randy got this hilarious magnet that said, “Titanic: Built by Irishmen, Sunk by an Englishman.” I told him he could give it to the captain of our ship as a gift. He’s English. Lol. Maybe in return, he’ll get a one way ticket back to the Philippines.

Aside from the magnets, I got myself a shirt and I bought my brother a Guinness baseball hat which, like my sister’s, I might wind up using one of these days. I don’t think he’ll mind. Hehehe.

Then I thought you couldn’t visit Ireland without going to a genuine Irish pub, right? So we started wandering around looking for what looked like the real deal. It took a while and we wouldn’t have found this gem of a place if we hadn’t bumped into Denis. He’s the Chef de Cuisine of the Pinnacle Grill, the ship’s fine dining restaurant and the place that I do pastries for. He’s a great guy from Mexico, really easygoing. Anyway, he was also trying to locate a pub which a person had pointed him to. White’s is supposedly the oldest tavern in Belfast. It’s the first establishment in the city to get a liquor license in—get this—the year 1630. Whoah. If there ever was a place in Belfast to have a pint of Guinness, this would be THE place to go to. Can you imagine all the stuff that may have occurred in this place? Being there was just plain awesome.

And if you’re in a pub in Ireland, I guess the best thing to order from the tap is a pint of Guinness. It’s what Randy and I got, while Denis had a pint of Smithwicks, one of their local beer, I guess. I liked the taste of the Guinness. It was creamy and not too tannic. If I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar, maybe I could’ve finished the entire glass. Alas, Denis and Randy winded up drinking most of it. Not that they were too bummed about that though.  After a few sips, I was also feeling a bit hungry and I didn’t want to have too much beer on an empty stomach so we ordered some pub food. The only thing on their menu which sounded Irish was the White’s Boxty, everything else was French onion soup or burgers. Jeez, nothing that I really couldn’t eat anywhere else. The Boxty (i have no idea where that name came from) turned out to be a plate of mashed potato with sautéed mushrooms and chives. It was okay, I guess. My chef and I were joking that it came fresh from a box of instant mashed potatoes.

After the pub, there was just enough time to catch the bus to the docks because we were leaving Belfast at 5 that afternoon. Overall, maybe we were out of the ship for about 3 hours but it was such a nice day to see a bit of Belfast, Ireland and hang out with some really nice people. Its days like these when I realize why I love this job so much. Maybe the 13 hour days can really suck sometimes, but having this chance to see a bit of the world makes it all worthwhile.  

the buildings here are lovely :)


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Exploring Intramuros. Saint Malo, France

Shame on me but prior to this itinerary, I’ve never even heard of the island of Saint Malo. I was like, is that in England? Hehehe. So I did some very expensive research last night (internet rates on the ship is craaaazy) and found out that Saint Malo also has an Intramuros. The old city is surrounded by thick walls all around. It’s such a quaint little town with super narrow cobblestoned streets and old brick buildings.

I walked around mostly by myself although I did meet a lot of friends along the way. I just felt like being alone this afternoon. Living in the ship, I mean, I like it, but I must admit it can be quite claustrophobic sometimes: enclosed quarters and seeing the same people every day, I guess you’ll need a break sometime.

So I enjoyed walking around and exploring their walled city. It reminded me of another walled French city I’ve been to called Aigues Mortes. They’re both similar in the sense that you can almost feel the history of the place by just soaking in the surroundings. They’ve kept the same architecture but now of course the place is filled with shops and restaurants.

My heart almost skipped a beat when I entered this street filled with pastry shops, confectioneries and boulangeries. I could be here for days just trying to taste everything. I walked around a bit before I followed my nose and found this little shop called Maison Hector Gaufrerie and Sandwicherie. They had a beautiful display of the biggest beignets I’ve ever seen. Bigger than my face even. Lol. I knew I just had to get one. And may I just say that it was super rich and super delicious, filled to bursting with my favorite filling: Nutella. Yummy! Nothing could’ve made it better except for maybe some bananas. Heehee. But as much as I enjoyed that freshly fried beignet (it’s almost like a fancy French doughnut), I just couldn’t finish the whole thing. I did my best though.

So all in all, I had such a great day today. Who knew I would enjoy Saint Malo so much when I’d never even heard of it before? There’s a lot of truth in that statement about how the best things in life can come from the unexpected.  

 isn't this the cutest post office building ever?

 huge stacks of nutella on the 2nd floor. forget about robbing a bank, how bout here instead?
 lookit my huge beignet! bigger than my face noh? :)