Tag Archive: Friends

Sep 14 2013

London Update – 2013

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Well, it has been almost a week since I touched back down here in the United States after what I can only describe as a much needed and much enjoying trip back to the United Kingdom and London specifically. To start off the week, it was simply some of the best weather I could have ever asked for. Temperatures was in the upper 70’s and 80’s and the sun was out for almost the entire time with only one morning of rain the entire trip. I honestly cannot complain about it at all considering the last time I was in London, it was the middle of winter in January 2004.

IMG_20130902_143211This trip was a much needed return to the city I had grown to love over three enjoyable Winter Terms at Eckerd College with some really great friends. For those that have been following my blog and website for a while, you will know about my previous London updates. My past visits and extended stays in London have allowed me to experience a lot of amazing and exciting museums around London and the United Kingdom. This trip though, I wanted to do something different. I made it a goal to visit some great friends that I have made over the years and to do some activities that I haven’t done before or something that might not be the usual must do in London.

IMG_20130901_175914Where do I start? Well, the first day I was pretty jet lagged having not been able to get much rest on the plane over. For those that don’t know, I have never been able to sleep well on a plane. I know I travel a lot but, I just can’t do it. So I basically stayed up for the entire day and just hit the ground running. First stop of the trip, visiting Startford Centre to get my SIM card for my mobile. One cannot be a local with out a local phone number right? Joking aside, this was actually fun to do while waiting for my hotel to open up. I got a chance for a quick peek at the Olympic Park and some of the local shops. Next was a quick stop at the hotel to clean up and then it was off to Spitalfields Market, Old Spitalfields Market Market and Brick Lane. I did this on recommendation of a friend as a chance to see what the typical East Ender does on a Sunday. All I can say is wow. Sensory overload! So much going on here but, it really was a neat experience and lots of little things to buy and experience. After this, it was near dinner time so I figured I would hit my all time favorite in London, Nando’s. I can’t say enough about how amazing this chain is. Mark this is stop 1 of 4 for the trip. By this point, I had been up for almost 36 hours so it was time to head back to crash before one of my most looked forward to tours of the trip.

IMG_20130902_092605So Monday arrived and I was up bright and early, armed with my Costa Coffee and off to the BBC to tour the BBC Broadcasting House. This is a newer tour as the BBC just moved the last of it’s operations out of Television Centre and in to Broadcasting House to complete the modernization of the networks. This was a pretty cool tour. I would actually go to say it was probably better than the CNN tour I did in February when I went to Atlanta. It was cool to see one of the world’s largest newsrooms in action and then to see where the BBC Radio teams broadcast across the world. Another bonus was seeing Lady Gaga in passing. The only thing I would have loved to do on the tour would be to tour Radio 1 which I listen to all the time but unfortunately, that isn’t offered at this time. Maybe next trip. The rest of the day was spent bouncing around the town and walking through some great high street shops where I managed to find some nice new outfits from Topman. Full day overall with lots of exploring including a nice surprise meet up with my friend Vitor from the Disney Magic.

IMG_20130903_103314Tuesday was equally as full as Monday with a morning tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, the Churchill War Rooms, and more general exploring before meeting up with Dave and Kevin for drinks and dinner. Let’s start with Buckingham Palace. I feel like I’m about to make a Doctor Who comment but, it really is bigger on the inside. The view from outside really only gives your a glimpse at how massive this place is. This is the first time I had ever toured the State Rooms as in the past, HRH Queen Elizabeth has been in residence so it was not open to the public. The history inside the walls and the special displays on The Queen’s Coronation were actually really interesting to read and see. The amount of tradition that continues through the centuries is really something amazing. It’s really amazing to see that protocol is still followed after all these years. After the Palace, it was off to the Churchill War Rooms and British Museum again and then by the time I was able to relax, it was time for drinks and dinner with Kevin and Dave. I don’t think I could have packed more in to this day.

IMG_20130904_124324Wednesday marked the last of the pre-planned days I had this trip. I slept in a little bit and then headed north to Startford where I did a walking tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the town itself. While the Olympic venues are still in the process of being converted from the 2012 Olympic Games, parts of the park were already open to the public. What was neat about the particular tour I did was that it really focused on the impact of the Olympic Games had on the transformation of London’s East End in to a new up and coming community. It was also really neat to walk along some of the canals that go to the Thames and to see some of the more unique living locations on canal boats and some really cool loft looking flats. The transformation will do a lot for the community and is really neat to see. After the tour, I headed over to Greenwich using the Emirates Air Line and then exploring the National Maritime Museum before having Nando’s again and then heading to walk along the Thames at sunset and enjoy the night life.

Thursday, my friend Ben came up from Brighton for the morning which was fun. We explored Hyde Park and then walked Oxford Street and looked at some tradition London High Street shops like Harrods’s and Selfridges. After Ben headed back to Brighton, I went to see the real MI6 and then headed to Westfield Stratford to see the One Direction movie, This is Us. I will be honest, this was actually much better than I expected it to be. Just some more exploring the town before heading to the hotel to crash.

IMG_20130906_181415Friday was the only day of rain I had the entire trip. And luckily for me, it only lasted for the morning. I took the time to explore Tate Modern and The London Transport Museum before heading back to Canary Wharf and visiting the Museum of London Docklands which is something new for me. By this point, the sun had come out and the clouds cleared so I took the advice of Kevin and headed to The Shard and took in the View from The Shard. The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe and offers sweeping views of London from over 1,000 feet up. If you are visiting London and have a clear day, this is a must do. I spent a good hour up here just taking in the view.

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At this point, I was in to the home stretch of my trip and decided to head back to the great Upper Deck SE1 that was suggested by Kevin for Tuesday night and enjoy another great night and a few pints along the Thames reflecting on the amazing week I had back in London. Once the sun finally set over the Thames, I headed back to Canary Wharf one last time and had a great Japanese dinner at Wagamama which has got to be my second top dine in chain in England behind Nando’s. This was the perfect evening to end the trip on with great temperatures and clear sky.

So as you can tell, it was a full trip packed in to 6 full days in London. I am so happy that I made the trip back and I am already planning my return for Spring 2014. Thanks again to all my good friends that made it a great trip. Sorry we couldn’t see each other more and for those that I missed, there will be time in the Spring. See you all again soon across the pond!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2013/09/london-update-2013/

Mar 10 2013

A Weekend in Atlanta

IMG_20130222_175459Well, I am finally getting around to writing about my latest new destination for this year. A couple of weeks ago, I took a visit up to Atlanta for the weekend to visit my college mate Steve who I hadn’t seen in a few years. We last saw each other on a visit to Walt Disney World but, this was the first time I had the chance to get up to Atlanta, GA and visit him and see his place and to visit Atlanta for the first time. Sure, I have driven through it several times when gong back and forth between Florida and Minnesota over the years but, this was the first time I actually got to spend any amount of time in the city exploring. While only there for two nights and weekend, it was a great city to see and explore.

 

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I flew up on Friday night right after work which actually worked out perfectly for me and arrived at a decent hour and headed straight to Steve’s place for a nice homemade curry made by his girlfriend which was just amazing. Saturday morning, we started off with a walk through Centennial Olympic Park and over to CNN for a VIP tour of the newsrooms and studios for CNN and HLN Networks. This was pretty cool to me and I enjoyed it as someone who loves looking at the technical side of things. So if you are a news junkie like me and enjoy the behind the scenes of things, it’s worth doing. Hopefully I will be able to do the same with the BBC later this year. After CNN, we headed to the Georgia Aquarium but it was closed so decided to do World of Coke instead. This is to me just a larger version of what we have at Epcot but was somewhat neat to see the bottling process and the history of the product. I would say though that the highlight of the World of Coke for me was seeing the Olympic torch from the torch relay. Those that know me know I am a huge fan of the Olympics and was addicted to watching London 2012 last summer so it was a fun treat to see and hold. Personally, it was about the best part of the tour for me. Unless you are a huge Coke fan, I think it’s safe to say you can skip it.

IMG_20130224_145922Sunday while I had a late flight, we still had the whole day to go to the Georgia Aquarium. First off, one needs a full day to see everything that is here and then more time to just sit and watch the massive main tank. This tank is HUGE and has  three amazing whale sharks. It is the world’s largest indoor aquarium and I could have spent hours along just watching the sharks, fish and rays swimming around in here. Aside from the amazing ocean size tank, there are some fascinating other exhibits covering all the different other types of aquatic life out there. from the arctic to the bayou.

IMG_20130309_215100One of the fun exhibits in the arctic section was the penguins. You can either walk by or crawl through this tunnel and pop up literally in the middle of the flock. It’s pretty cool to see. This is definitely worth a visit if you can spare the time to truly explore all of the great things to see. Included  in our tickets was for the aquarium was the dolphin show that used to cost extra I guess. The dolphin stunts were pretty cool considering it was all inside but the theatrical parts of the show were really corny and pretty lame in my opinion. If you have the time and want to really see the dolphins I guess it’s worth it but, I wouldn’t make time to see the show again in the future.  If you really want a dolphin show, I would say you are better off going to Sea World.

That’s it for all of the tourist places we went too. The nice part about visiting a friend who lives in a city is you get to experience the local food places rather than sticking to the chains or other tourist locations. It was nice to try some new restaurants and even do a great lunch at a food truck park which I think was very well setup and really hit the spot. Overall, a great trip and a great weekend catching up with old friends. I need to make visit will have to be longer!

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2013/03/a-weekend-in-atlanta/

Feb 13 2013

Visiting our Nation’s Capital

IMG_20130209_095100So I’m just getting back in to town after a fun boys weekend with my best friends Jason and David visiting Washington, DC. We totally lucked out and just missed the massive snowstorm the hit just north of DC the day we arrived. The weather for the trip was pretty cool but, at least there wasn’t any snow. We had a full schedule with hitting the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the National Archives right off the bat on day one. OUr second day started early in the morning with a visit to The White House where we got to take a tour inside of it and then off to the Old Ebbitt Grill for a great brunch.

After lunch we continued a nice walk over to the International Spy Museum which not only had the cool history of spy gadgets but, also included a great exhibit on 50 years of Bond Villains with props and gadgets from the films. This was far worth the cost of admission.  After the Spy Museum, it was off to the National Air and Space Museum to start our two day adventure in to the history of flight. After the museum, it was time for a quick nap and then off to dinner with my cousin LIsa and then drinks with my buddy Chris and his girlfriend Nicky before calling it a night. Talk about a long day!

IMG_20130210_120817Sunday was probably one the highlights of the trip, The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum. This place is simply massive! I don’t know how else to explain it. There are so many amazingly cool planes and aircraft to see from the SR-71 BlackBird to the Concorde and the Space Shuttle Discovery. I don’t think it can be any more breath taking when you see these beautiful planes almost with in touching distance from you. standing under Discovery was truly an awe-inspiring moment. Thanks to my buddy Chris for the drive out there. I can write enough about how amazing this place is. It is definitely worth the visit to. After several hours of visiting the museum, we took a late lunch in Fairfax with Chris before returning back to the city for a nap and then dinner with Jason’s cousins and my friend Wes.

IMG_20130211_134620Our last day proved to be just a busy with a morning tour of the US Capital and then an afternoon visit to the National Botanical Gardens before heading to grab a bite to eat at one of my all time favorite places from living in England, Pret A Manger before heading the final tour of the weekend, the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress was actually pretty neat and I couldn’t help but think of where the President’s Book of Secrets might be thanks to National Treasure. We had planned to visit the Air and Space Museum again before hitting the airport but, due to flight changes, we ended up having to rush back to the hotel and hit the airport much quicker and earlier than we had planned to.

Overall, it was a very fun, yet tiering, weekend with some great fiends to a great city that is loaded with exciting treasures to discover and see. Glad we were able to get up to Washington for a visit and for those the follow my blog regularly, I think I have proved that I don’t always take cruise vacations 🙂

Here are the photos from my latest trip:

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2013/02/visiting-our-nations-capital/

Jan 29 2013

Discovering New Destinations in 2013

Disney_Wonder2013 has started off with a blast this year and I am just returning from my first adventure of the new year. Last week my friend and I went down to Miami for a day and enjoyed the night life in Miami Beach before boarding the Disney Wonder on a 4-Night Bahamian cruise that took us to Key West, Nassau and Castaway Cay. It was a great trip and experiencing Miami Beach and Key West for the first time really made the trip. It was also fun to experience the cruise with a first time cruiser and a group of international friends. The only downfall of the cruise was twisting my ankle on the first night on the stairs, and no, alcohol was not involved but, seeing old friends and making some new ones onboard made up for the downfall.

4-Night Bahamian Cruise from Miami, FL
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Trip Photos

Home for a few days now and catching up on laundry and house work before heading to Naples, FL to visit the family for the weekend and then back for a few days to Orlando and then off to Washington, DC for a weekend with the boys. Yes, I know I am lucky to be able to do the trips I do. It keeps me going and excited to discover new things and visit new and exciting places.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2013/01/discovering-new-destinations-in-2013/

Nov 15 2012

Back on Dry Land, Again

Well, I am just returning from my most recent trip, a 5-Night Western Caribbean Cruise onboard Royal Caribbean‘s  Liberty of the Seas. This was the first time I tried Royal Caribbean and I must say that while I think I will be sticking with Disney Cruise Line, I still had a great time with my best mate David. Here is what our trip looked like.

5-Night Western Caribbean Itinerary:

 

Day Date Port Ashore Onboard
Saturday 10-Nov-2012 FORT LAUDERDALE
Sunday 11-Nov-2012 AT SEA
Monday 12-Nov-2012 BELIZE CITY 9:00 AM 5:30 PM
Tuesday 13-Nov-2012 COZUMEL 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
Wednesday 14-Nov-2012 AT SEA
Thursday 15-Nov-2012 FORT LAUDERDALE  09:00 AM

We got to do some pretty cool things while on this trip like visit the Altun Ha Mayan Site

And even raced some America’s Cup 21-Metre’s

Overall, it was a great trip! Check out below for more pictures:

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2012/11/back-on-dry-land-again/

May 26 2012

Sea Days and Canada

So I think that I am finally caught up on sleep and getting back to my normal routine after a great vacation last week. Since I have already posted blogs from Disneyland® and San Francisco, I won’t repeat all of the details on those days of my vacation. After leaving San Francisco, we enjoyed a relaxing two days at sea as we steamed north towards Victoria, Canada. Now, unlike the Caribbean cruises that I am used to doing, I totally misjudged the weather and temperatures outside and ended up breaking down to buy a sweatshirt on the ship. So exactly how bad was the weather? Well, as you can see from the below photos, it was sunny and clear but, we had find and 18 foot seas. Anyone for surfing in the pool?

So with it being almost too cold and too rough to really sit at the pool, what does one do while at sea? Read of course. I think I saw more copies of The Hunger Games and more Kindles/Nooks than I have ever seen in the past and people seemed to find almost any spot on the ship to just curl up. Everyone seemed to be relaxed and taking in what ever world they were transported off to while reading. I managed to read the first to Harry Potter books for the first time and I can now honestly say they are quite good and much better than the movies.

Now even with the seas, it was still a nice time to catch up with my friends ont he ship and explore more of the life below the waterline and life in general on the high seas. I even took the time to treat myself to a nice 75-minute hat bamboo deep tissue massage. I had been eying this one for several cruises and with the right offer this trip, I decided to do it. Let me just say, you can’t get any more relaxed than I felt after this one. Well worth the money.

Our first stop in Canada was Victoria, British Columbia. I’d been to Victoria twice before with the family and now going back on my own and on the best weather day of the trip, I fell in love with this town. I can’t explain in words just how beautiful this down is. It’s modern yet has an old English town feel. It’s just a great place to visit if you have the chance. Also, while in port, Efrain was able to arrange for me to have a special tour on the ship, the Bridge. I feel honored that I was able to see this special part of the ship and with a little encouragement from the Captain, I think I might have found a new calling. What do you all think?

After a perfect day in Victoria, it was time for a nice and slow journey to Vancouver. Vancouver is one of those cities that I have heard so much about and have always wanted to visit and in fact, was one of the main reasons why I booked this cruise. We pulled in at 7am on Sunday morning and were in port for a full 24-hours to explore this amazing city. I decided it was best to book an excursion to start off with from the ship which took us around town, to Stanley Park and then to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This by far was worth the cost of the excursion. Such amazing views and trails in this park to explore and a really cool walkway along the cliffs to boot! If you don’t like heights, you might not want to do this one but, the views were worth it.

After the morning exploring the forests and town, it was back to the ship to meet up with Efrain after he got off work where we then went back in to town to have a great meal with some of his friends. After dinner, it was back to the ship to finish packing and enjoy one last night aboard the Disney Wonder before returning back to Florida on Monday.

Overall, I am really glad I booked and did this cruise, even if I was traveling alone. I had an amazing time on this trip and mark it down as one of the best cruises I have taken thus far with Disney Cruise Line. I especially want to thank Jason for taking the day and taking me around San Francisco and Efrain for going above and beyond on the ship to really give me the greatest experience and allowing me to see in to his life at sea. I also want to thank the many other Disney Wonder crew members that went out of their way to get to know me and show me a good time, Daniel, Justin, Robin, Steven, Jilly, Lance, thank you all again for a great cruise. Until next time.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2012/05/sea-days-and-canada/

May 15 2012

Relaxation at Sea and a Taste of Life Below the Waterline

At Sea – Today marked the first full day of my voyage north to Vancouver. Seas aren’t too bad as we go along but, it is definitely not a Caribbean cruise. I started the day off with a 5-mile run on the elliptical before breakfast and then enjoyed some nice reading time in the Outlook Bar which allows for some nice views but protected from the wind.

After that, it was time for some trivia and then yoga. I am enjoying the relaxation this trip and it is nice to have the sea days to just kick back and relax. The other nice thing about this trip is catching up with old friends. After dinner we had a chance to take in the entertainment and then I got my first tour of life below the waterline. Yes folks, I have now officially seen the bowels of the Disney Magic including I-95. All I can say is wow. I have an entirely new respect for what the crew does. My friend wasn’t able to give me the full tour tonight but plans one for later in the voyage so stay tuned as I head deeper below the waterline.

Bed time now so I can be up early for a full day in San Francisco. Internet is not fully functional so, updates may not post until after the voyage. Keep an eye on my twitter feed for the most up to date since mobile service still works. Till next time.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2012/05/relaxation-at-sea-and-a-taste-of-life-below-the-waterline/

Sep 26 2011

Transatlantic Cruise Recap

Well, yesterday morning around 6:00am, the Disney Magic returned to her home port of Port Canaveral, Florida and along with her arrival, came the end to my 14-night journey from Barcelona, Spain back to Florida. Other than my study experience in London, this was the longest vacation I have taken on my own outside of the country and the longest voyage I have done on a ship to date. The funny part about the whole trip is that I wish it was longer. I really enjoyed being at sea and enjoyed all the amazing new friends that I met along the way.

I don’t really know where to start with a recap. There are so many great memories from trip. Barcelona was a beautiful city which I would love to go back to and explore more. The 24 hours that I spent there were too short but, the reason for the visit was the cruise. I know I will get back sometime in the future for a longer visit. Next up was Gibraltar. This is an interesting place. I felt like I was in a small town in England but, here I am looking out over to Africa and Spain. Also, never in my life have I seen wild apes that will literally just come up to you and let you touch them.

It’s at this point that I need to say that back on the ship, we had one of the more entertaining shows. Yes, my blog from a few days ago was correct, the infamous Charo performed onboard the Disney Magic both singing/dancing and her amazing guitar. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t really think much of it when I saw it on the schedule but, I think it was one of the more entertaining shows from the voyage. The first half of the show were more pop oriented pieces while the second half was her playing classical Spanish guitar.

Here are several clips from the performance:

In addition to watching several other performers on the ship and several Disney shows, I spent a lot of time just enjoying the Disney Magic. While she is 13+ years old, she is still a great ship who doesn’t feel that old. While on the crossing itself, we were blessed to have no weather at all. It was smooth sailing for all 5 days across the Atlantic Ocean. Perfect weather for sitting by the pool and just relaxing. The pool experience was different on this cruise versus all of the others I have taken this year and in the past. While most Disney Cruises have the majority of passengers at the family pool, due to the large number of adults on this voyage and extremely small number of children, the opposite was true for this voyage. I think everyone on the ship was trying to get those coveted deck chairs at the Cove Pool each morning. I also spent time on the days at sea visiting the gym in the Vista Spa and believe it or not, I managed to loose 9 lbs on the voyage. Yes folks, I went on a 14-night cruise and LOST weight.

So after 5 sea days, we finally made landfall again in the Caribbean in St. Maarten. I had been there before earlier this year and was planning to head to the cool beach by the port but, there was lots of road work being done making that plan impossible so we had to settle for walking around town. Still great weather at this point in the voyage. After St. Maarten, we headed to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Not much to do in the city itself but, we had an amazing sailing, snorkeling and beach experience with the amazing weather. Probably one of the best investments of the cruise I think. After Tortola was one more day at sea and then a visit to Castaway Cay. Castaway Cay was the usual but, again, with so many adults on the ship, the adult beach was way to busy while the family beach was empty.

Overall this was a great vacation and a great get away. I would do another transatlantic crossing anytime with no hesitation. It will be hard now to do shorter cruises in the future. Anyways, that’s the recap of the trip in a short summary.

Here are pictures of the trip for everyone to look at:

And as something fun to share, here is the Disney Magic Cruise Staff performing the pub classic, If I Were Not Upon the Sea.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2011/09/transatlantic-cruise-recap/

Aug 09 2011

I Can Hear The Bells

So I am just settling in back home in Orlando after a great weekend back in Minnesota. Not only did I get to spend some time with the family, I had the great please of serving as an usher for one of my best friends Scott who got married this past weekend to the amazing Caroline. You two are perfect for each other and I am so lucky that you asked me to be a part of it. In additional to being in the wedding, I will also take some credit in the engagement as one of the ideas I gave to Scott is what he ended up using 🙂

Normal next couple of weeks back at the office until traveling again. My cruise docs came while I was gone so it’s just one step closer to the trip of a lifetime thus far. Now back to my DVR and catching up with Teen Wolf and The Glee Project. Congratulations  again to Scott and Caroline and I hope you have many wonderful years.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2011/08/i-can-hear-the-bells/

Oct 12 2010

Weekend with Dad and another Cruise

Well, work has been going great. I am still very much loving the new role and to date, could not be happier where I am at. It’s also been a nice relaxing last couple of weeks. First, Dad came down for a father and son weekend which was nice and relaxing and included a relaxing visit to Eckerd College, Ft De Soto State Park and the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. Here are a few pictures from the visit to St. Petersburg.


So what else can make last week better? How about finishing it off with a 3-Night Bahamian Cruise on the Disney Wonder? My friend Brian and I took a last minute cruise deal and decided to head to the Bahamas for the weekend. Pictures are up below. That’s all for now folks. I’m back to cleaning house and getting settled back in to dry land.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2010/10/weekend-with-dad-and-another-cruise/

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