international · travel

Cruise 2018: Ports of Call

Happy Monday friends! If you reside anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic region, you may be digging yourself out of the snow that fell over the weekend. Here in central Virginia, we didn’t get that much snow: we did however get a good amount of slushy rain. We are expecting some more snow and ice in the upcoming days, so stay warm and dry if you can!

With all of this cold, wintry weather, it’s only natural that I might look back on some warmer days. Specifically, I’m thinking about my last vacation to the Caribbean. If you all recall, I went on a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean. I posted about the ship itself, and I also wrote about the exquisite cuisine that I enjoyed on board. The ports of call for this cruise were Nassau, Bahamas; Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya, Mexico. I’ve been to most of these ports before ( Honduras being the only exception), so I was already familiar with the locations. That being said, I still enjoyed being somewhere warm and sunny for a change.

I don’t have much to say about the locations: because I only spent a few hours at each port of call, it’s hard to distinguish between them. As a result, this post will be mostly pictures. I always get so excited to see the beauty of the Caribbean. The crystal clear water, the striking buildings, the unrelenting sunshine … There’s nothing quite like an

island vacation. Enjoy!

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Ship in Nassau

Views from Cozumel

Sights in Roatan

Costa Maya views

More Costa Maya

food

Food Review: Tsubi Soup

Hi everyone! It’s Friday, so let’s have a little fun and do a food review.

I recently ordered some vegan miso soup from Amazon because so many of the instant miso options available in stores contain bonito (a type of fish that is a traditional miso ingredient). Previously, I tried Miyasaka miso soup, which was tasty but lacked the flavorful “punch” I craved.

While searching through the miso mixes, I came across Tsubi Soup, a soup company that prides itself on using simple, fresh, authentic ingredients to create superbly flavored soups. I was really impressed by the fact that the company has such high standards for its ingredients, so I decided to give it a try.

I ordered the spicy red miso soup with mushrooms (the company offers several other flavors). The soup mix arrived in two days because I have Amazon Prime.

I made the soup by adding hot water and allowing the ingredients to re-hydrate. After about two minutes, it was ready to eat.

OMG, this was delicious! I didn’t miss the bonito flavor at all. This has to be one of the most delicious vegan miso soups I’ve ever tasted. I ended up each the entire box within 3 days LOL! The spice is abundant but not too hot. The mushrooms plumped up perfectly and give the soup great variety in texture.

Now, one major difference with this and the previously reviewed miso soup mix is the price. Tsubi Soups has 4 packets for $12.99, while Miyasaka Soups has 12 packets for nearly the same price ($14.28). But, you get what you pay for. Tsubi Soups are far tastier than Miyasaka Soups and, in my humble opinion, worth every penny.

I haven’t tried the other Tsubi Soup flavors but I intend to. If the spicy red miso with mushrooms is any indication, the other flavors are probably excellent, as well.

That’s my review for today. If you love Japanese foods or curious about them, let me know in the comments below. Thanks, and have a great Friday!

 

travel

2019 Travel Plans: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Well, as 2018 winds down, I can comfortably say that I’m done traveling for the year. I don’t anticipate going anywhere new until next calendar year, but boy, what a fun year this has been!

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From my trip to Kenya, to road trips to Philadelphia and North and South Carolinas, to my cruise last month, I’ve been a busy girl. And 2019 shows no signs of me slowing down!

I’m finalizing a few details on a late winter trip to San Juan, as well as a late spring/early summer trip to Paris. I was toying around with the notion of attending a very pricey and exclusive class next spring, but I’d rather spend my money on transformative or “bucket list” travel. The class can wait!

Next falls looks like it may include another family cruise and, if not, I’ll be in London for a few days to attend an event I’ve been eyeing. I’m also looking into some additional travel to the Pacific Rim: I haven’t decided on a country yet, but I feel like this region is calling me, so we’ll see where my hankering takes me.

I have to finish reviewing my cruise travel for you all, but once that’s done, I’ll be laser-focused on my 2019 plans. I’m so excited!!!

I hope you all are having a relaxing Monday and an easy transition into this post-Thanksgiving work week. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

 

international · travel

Cruise 2018: Dining on the Sea

If you all didn’t know, I love to dine out. I actually think I like eating out a bit too much, which is why I’ve cut down significantly over the past few months. That being said, I still got excited at the dining options available on my latest cruise.

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The Allure of the Seas (a Royal Caribbean ship) has multiple restaurants on board, as well as several cafes, wine bars, and snack bars. My family and I dined regularly at the main dining room at American Icon Grille. This restaurant  published a luxe menu every evening, featuring various appetizers, entrees and desserts. The restaurant changed up the menus every day, so there was always something new to try. There are also a few other themed restaurants, such as Silk (Asian foods) and The Grande (American foods).

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A typical breakfast that I’d order from room service

There is also a buffet located near the pools (the Windjammer Cafe), which has a few of the food items featured in American Icon Grille but also other dishes that aren’t available in any of the dining rooms. To be honest, I had the best time dining at the Windjammer in the evenings. The buffet had a different chilled fruit soup every night which were delicious and I could literally eat every day without getting tired of them (think the world’s smoothiest, most delicious smoothies . . . yes, it was as tasty as it sounds).

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A menu from one evening at American Icon Grille

Oooh, not to mention, there is a Sorrento’s pizza, which makes fresh pizza until 3 AM. Who doesn’t love pizza? And the room service has lots of delicious fresh options available all day long.

I won’t continue to talk about the foods: let’s see some pictures, shall we?

Lobster bisque and Tiger shrimp

Left: Shrimp ceviche; Top right: Shrimp and potato salad; Bottom right: Lobster

Desserts!!!

Enjoy your Friday, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

international · travel

Fall Vacation Part 1 – Cruise Overview

Happy Monday, friends! Today’s post will be an abbreviated one, because I’m going to flesh out some more of the details over the next week or so.

As you all recall, I just returned from a cruise. I’ve cruised many times before: please don’t ask me to count them, because I can’t LOL! It’s something that my family enjoys doing, so I participate because I enjoy spending time with them. We have done several Caribbean cruises and this most recent cruise also took us back to the Caribbean.

cruise

This isn’t a photo from our ship, but the sunset looks so much like the ones that I saw!

We cruised with Royal Caribbean on the ship, Allure of the Seas. The ship is large, beautiful and has lot of activities for all age ranges. Believe it or not, one of my favorite things to do on the ship was get cotton candy on the boardwalk area. There are several videos you can view, if you want to see the ship and its features.

We visited Nassau, Bahamas; Cozumel, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Costa Maya, Mexico. We cruised for 7 days, and we sailed out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My family has found it prudent to arrive one day prior to sailing and leave one day after arriving back, just to have a bit of a travel “cushion” in case there are any unexpected delays. So, I also have a post reviewing the hotel where we stayed coming up pretty soon.

I tried to stick with my IF eating plan but I gave up two days into my vacation! There were so many great dining options that I have to discuss those in a separate post.

 

international · travel

I’m Back!!!

cruise

Yes, I’m back from my cruise and I have SO many photos and stories to tell! I knew I wouldn’t be able to give “real time” updates while I was on the ship (I go on the cruise to disconnect, not to maintain my regular routine!) so I made sure that I scheduled some posts for you while I was away.

I always love my time on the water, and I’m really excited to share this experience with you all. Today, however, I’m winding down and catching up on my emails and all the things that happened while I was away. I hope you all have been doing well!

Enjoy your Monday, and I’ll be back tomorrow. Adios!

 

art · international

Art at the Embassy of Haiti

Hey friends! I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, but I had some distractions on my end that prevented me from focusing for a bit. However, I’m back, I have a bit more time, and I can finally share some of the artwork that I loved at the Haitian Embassy.

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Murat Saint Vil, Islande of La Tortue

As you recall, I went to the Haitian Embassy last month, and I enjoyed a fun evening of music, food and fun personalities. While I don’t consider myself particularly social, I loved having the opportunity to get out for a bit and do something different from my ordinary routine.

Manes Descollines, Odette; Raymond Olivier, Green Light

I’ve mentioned several times before that the Haitian Embassy has an impressive art collection featuring works created by Haitian artists exclusively. The embassy is a mashup of a museum, an office, a library, and an elegant mansion. This is the kind of over-the-top grandeur that I LIVE for!

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Wilson Bigaud, The Healers (1973)

So the embassy is 3 stories high, and on the walls lining the stairwell, as well as all of the corridors, there are endless photos and paintings capturing the vibrant and beautiful energy of Haiti. I’ve visited Haiti and fell in love with the beautiful landscape and people. Visiting the embassy is the closest I can get to the island for now, and I’m thankful for it.

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Yves Michaud, And God created Women

There were so many great paintings to see, and I wish I could have had the whole day to look at them all and ask questions. Sadly, I was only there for a little while: the event was in the evening and there was so much other fun things to check out at the embassy that learning more about the artwork simply wasn’t possible.

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Saint Louis Blaise, Interpellation (1980)

The crown jewel of the embassy was the only known painting of the royal issue of the first king and queen of Haiti. Three of the children of King Henri I and Queen Marie-Louise are depicted in the painting. This precious and significant artwork has been in private in hands for many years and has finally made it back to the people of Haiti. It was my privilege and joy to see it in person. If you would like to know more about the painting, click here. Please disregard the mislabeling presented in the article: this is the crown prince and his sisters, not the king, queen, and one of the princesses.

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Unknown, Prince Victor-Henri, Princess Amethyste and Princess Athenaire

This is just a soupcon of the breathtaking art I saw while at the embassy. I can’t wait to return and see what new art they will have on display! I hope you all enjoy – talk to you all tomorrow!