Tuesday, December 19, 2017

May need to rethink wardrobe for Caribbean Cruise

Well I am still trying to heal this fracture in my ankle.  It is a pain but I have to keep reminding myself that it could be worse.

We are sailing in January and although I had been hoping that I would not have to drag this boot with me, I have a feeling I will need to wear it longer than I had hoped.  Bone is taking longer to heal than both I and the doctor had hoped.  Seeing a specialist soon.

So looks like I will have to alternate my wardrobe to match with this boot.  

Luckily I can take it off and at least swim.  

Any ideas for those that have had the pleasure of wearing an air boot to get me thru.

Fingers still crossed doctor says I don't need it.  

Also doubt I will have to wear it for the full 40 days.

But I can think of no better way to recover.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Martinique Princess Excursions Released

Last month I reported that the port of Dominica has been replaced with Martinique for our upcoming Cruises.

Today I noticed that Princess released excursions for Martinique.  

They have done a quick job at getting this out. 

Here are screen shots of the excursions.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Princess EZ Air - Always Check!

On our last cruise we tried Princess Air for the first time.  The price was right and the routing and airline was even better.  

We did encounter a few hicups with it.  The flight we booked was an American Airlines flight but operated by British Airways. Our booking number was an American Airlines booking number.  When we tried to check in for the flight 24 hours prior to departure it would not recognize that booking number.  

After a few calls.  First to British Airways who said you don't have a booking with us.  Okay that freaked me out a bit.  To calling American Airlines and asking why don't I have a booking number!  Their response was you do, but it is a different one for British Airways.  This new number worked thankfully but why did they not have reference to this new number anywhere on my booking.

For our next trip to Fort Lauderdale we once again investigated the Princess Air. Again the price was comparable and the routing was good.  The price was the same as we could do independently but we did not have to pay for the flights until final payment and that was our biggest incentive.

I regularly check our flights (from past experience things change) whether I book with agent, Princess or independently.  Princess is good about letting us know when there is a change if the airline lets them know.  The key here is "if".  

So yesterday I was in my personalizer and checked the flight and see we are still on the original flights.  I then take the booking number and check with the airline to see if it is the same.  Always go to the airline's website to confirm.  

Guess what the airline is showing us on a later flight out of Fort Lauderdale, but same flight from Dallas. Not a big deal, but we were not notified of this change.  Also according to my Princess Personalizer the original flight is still there.  I just left it to deal with later.

Today I get an email about itinerary change from Princess to my flight.  However it is not showing the change, in fact it is showing the original flight. Hmmm I am confused. I go to the airline and yup the change is there.  We are on the later flight, so what is up with this email.

Send a message to my travel agent (always good to have an amazing travel agent) who confirms that yes the flight has change and the later flight is the correct one.

So the moral of this whole story is - Airlines will make changes at their whim.  The original flight is still there but they decided to move us.  We are okay with the change as this means we are not in a rush to get off the ship.  But it is key for you to check occasionally (or have your travel agent check) to see if anything is different.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mini cruise to Bruges by Peter and Jacky Rayner

I love reading about Peter and Jacky's trips.  They write great reviews with a lot of good information and I am happy to share his latest mini break on P&O Ventura.

Although we are loyal Princess customers, there are no cruises from the UK outside the summer season. P&O, part of the Carnival Group, are aimed squarely at the UK market and most passengers are British. We saw a Mini Cruise as a way for us to get from Platinum to Elite before we sail on an Australian Cruise on Golden Princess next March (of course it has just been announced that bookings on P&O from 13th December 2017 will no longer count towards the Princess loyalty program). Furthermore, it allowed us to book a cruise with our Son and Daughter in law, who had never cruised before. It was to be our Christmas present to them.

Firstly, I have to compliment P&O on the way they dealt with a major change to our booking. We originally booked a 2 day cruise to Bruges starting 15th December, but the ship (Oceana) was in for a refit just before that and P&O estimated that it would not be ready in time. They cancelled the cruise and offered a full refund plus future cruise credit or some alternate sailings at the same fare. We chose the 3 day cruise and got an extra day free of charge plus a GBP 25 on board credit per person. Sadly our Son and his Wife could not get the time off work, so we got the full refund for them instead. We had some costs that we could not recover (hotels the night before and travel insurance) but P&O refunded all those costs to us as well.


We booked an Airbnb for the night before because the hotels had all gone up in price since we booked for our original date. It was cheaper than the original hotel and had a friendly host, so we were happy.

Because our loyalty level on Princess counts for nothing on P&O, we were allocated a 3pm boarding time. We needed to leave the Airbnb at 11am, so we headed to the port anyway. Arrival and baggage handling were no different than Princess (We were at the Ocean Terminal in Southampton). 

On arrival, we were not allowed to join the queue for check in, but were given a coloured card with a letter on it and asked to take a seat until we were called. We sat down at around 11.45am. The colour of the card indicated what time you should have been there. I asked if we would have to wait until 3pm and was told no, it would be a lot sooner than that. 

In the end, we were called at 12.45pm, so the wait was only 1 hour. 

Check in, security and embarkation was all very quick and easy. One difference is that your picture is taken at the check in desk instead of when you get on the ship, which I think speeds things up slightly.

When on board we asked if a main dining room was open for lunch and were told that it was only for higher tier P&O customers (equivalent to Platinum or Elite). We don’t like that sort of class segregation, which is why we don’t sail on Cunard. So we dropped our bags in out cabin and went to the buffet, which was very similar to Horizon Court on Princess.

Ship in General:

Ventura is almost exactly like the Emerald and Ruby Princess. The only differences are the décor and the fact that there is no movie screen up on deck. Not an issue at this time of year, but it would be missed in summer. One of the pools is covered, similar to the covered pool on Grand Princess.

Personally, I thought the décor was a bit bright and garish compared to Princess. The feel of Princess ships is a lot more classy in my opinion. That is just my taste and others may think different. Anyone familiar with the Emerald, Ruby or other similar ships would have no problem finding their way around. Most venues were the same, apart from having a different name (e.g. the Princess Theatre is called the Arena Theatre).

One downside for us is there are a lot more smoking areas on deck than on Princess ships. Half of the area on the terrace just outside the buffet is available for smokers (this is an eating area). On Princess, the smokers are 1 deck up outside Sabatini’s/Share. 

Also, the whole of the Promenade deck on the Starboard side is available for smokers. On Princess the area is restricted to a small aft section of the Promenade deck. If, like me, you like to walk round the Promenade deck, you can no longer hold your breath as you pass the smokers, otherwise you would be unconscious by the time you walked the whole of the Starboard side.


Our cabin was an inside in the forward section of the ship (Dominica 123). This cabin is in exactly the same place as on similar Princess Ships, where it would be called Dolphin 123. It was set out in exactly the same way as a Princess cabin.

I would not recommend this cabin for two reasons. Firstly it is a 4 berth cabin, so you have Pullman beds on each side that means you cannot stand upright beside your bed if you have a Queen configuration. It is awkward getting in and out during the night and you can bang yourself on them if you are not careful. It was OK for 3 nights, but I would not want it for a longer cruise. This was not because we originally booked with our son and his wife (they were going to have their own cabin). It was just the luck of the draw on a guarantee cabin. 

The second downside was noise from the theatre. The second show started at 10.45pm, by which time we were in bed, and you could hear drumming and other sounds from the theatre. There was quite a lot of vibration from the thrusters when docking, but that is just the issue on many ships when you are located forward or aft.

Our Steward was Melvyn. Not the happiest of cabin stewards and not very talkative. There are no free bathrobes available on P&O unless you are in a suite. Again, another class divide. We had 2 issues, there was no floor towel in the bathroom and the styling nozzle would not stay on the hairdryer (hairdryers are separate and not wall mounted). Both issues were fixed after we left Melvyn a note.

The bed was comfortable and P&O still have day cushions on the bed, which was nice. The TV was pretty poor. It was almost square rather than widescreen and only had 9 channels. Of these, 1 was the interactive on board account, 3 were P&O information or promotional channels and another was the webcam. They did have a range of films on demand, but the volume on the TV was set so low that I could not hear anything (I have a hearing impediment). On the plus side for the British, the plug sockets are standard UK 3 pin plugs and the on board account is in Pounds Sterling. There was no socket available behind the TV, so I had you use my power bar elsewhere in the cabin.


We opted for Freedom dining, which is the equivalent to Anytime dining. They had 2 dining rooms allocated to Freedom dining, but unlike Princess, the ship allocated you a dining room. They took your cabin number each night to ensure you kept to your correct dining room. Our dining room opened at 6pm, whereas the other Freedom dining room did not open until 6.30pm. Each night we arrived at around 5.45pm and were always first in the queue. I expected massive queues, but these did not build up until later in the evening. Even then, the dining room never appeared to be very busy. We opted for a table for 2 each night and were placed in the same section. Cyril and Ma Kristina were our waiters and both were very good. 

The food was good, with steak available as an option on all nights. I would have said that the food on Princess was better, but not by a huge amount. P&O do serve cheese at the end of every meal, rather than it being a dessert option.

The regular coffee on board was truly awful. On asking for decaf with dinner one evening, the waiter just poured some instant granules into my wife’s cup and filled it with water. The awfulness of the coffee was repeated throughout the ship. The saving grace was the speciality coffee on board. This is provided by Costa Coffee, which is a brand in the UK that is the major competitor to Starbucks. Their cappuccinos and lattes were excellent, but, of course, you had to pay for them. 

One good feature on the ship is that the bar in the nightclub (equivalent to Skywalkers) is open during the day and they make the speciality coffees right there. On Princess ships we have to go and get our coffees and take them to Skywalkers.

On the only sea day we ate lunch in the MDR and that was as good as it is on Princess.

We did not use the speciality restaurants and we noticed quite a few food venues with added supplements for certain dishes rather than a cover charge.


We saw one production show and the style was similar to the productions on Princess. They had 4 main vocalists and a dance troupe that seemed under rehearsed. It may be that new members of the cast had joined and were not yet up to speed, as some were out of time with the rest. It whiled away an hour or so though. The Theatre was exactly the same on princess ships except for the colour of the seats. 

We saw a Whitney Houston tribute act called Nya King on another night in their equivalent of Club Fusion. She was very good, although the show was a little spoiled by some rather drunk women on the dance floor. The entertainment team are much lower profile than on Princess. I did not see a Cruise Director and the staff did not introduce themselves when they appeared on stage. They were just there to introduce the acts.


Southampton – Being December, we did not head to the deck for sailaway. We left after dark and the ride was pretty smooth.

Sea Day – We were puzzled as to how they were going to turn a 2 day cruise to Bruges (our original booking) into a 3 day cruise. It soon became clear, as the map showing the progress of the ship indicated that after we left Southampton we turned away from Bruges and were heading in the wrong direction. Later that day we turned round to head back towards Bruges. The other factor was that we were only travelling at 7 to 8 knots. Usually the ship travels at anything between 15 to 20 knots. It was almost as if we were not moving. This, however, resulted in a very smooth sail and there was almost no rocking or rolling.

Zeebrugge for Bruges – P&O put on a free shuttle to Blankenberge, where you can get a train into Bruges. The transfer to the station was about 20 minutes. We arrived and there was quite a long queue for the ticket office. I spotted a ticket machine and it was very easy to use with instructions in English. I selected a return ticket to Bruges for 2 people and the machine automatically changed that to a weekend ticket, because it was cheaper. I then inserted my credit card and paid. The whole trip for the 2 of us cost less than GBP 8. P&O’s coach transfer into Bruges and back costs more than GBP 30 each. The train ride is 10 minutes and the trains run once every hour.

We had just missed a train and so had time to spare. We walked to the seafront at Blankenberge and took a very windy stroll beside the sea. It is a typical European seaside town with shops, restaurants and a couple of Piers. We thought it might be nice to explore when we return in the summer.

We caught the train and when you get off in Bruges it is a 15 to 20 minute walk into the centre. There are buses and taxis for those with less mobility, but coaches are not allowed into the centre, so passengers taking the P&O transfer, still have to walk.

Bruges is a very pretty city in the summer and no less so at this time of year. The Christmas Market was in full swing, with little cabins set around the main square selling food, drink and Christmas gifts and clothing. Christmas lights and trees were set up and there was an ice rink in the centre. 

We headed for a café for a coffee and to get out of a rain shower that had started. Once the rain had stopped we walked around the market and other parts of the town. Bruges is famous for its chocolate and so we stopped by a shop to buy some gifts. 

For lunch we stopped at another café and had some Belgian Waffles. One thing that struck me was that most of the staff in the cafes were very brusque and not very friendly. Maybe it was that they were just tired of tourists or wary because of the terrorist threat in Belgium at the moment. It would have been nice to be welcomed a bit more.

We walked back to the station and caught the train back to Blankenberge, where there were a row of P&O coaches ready to take us back to the ship.

Sail back to Southampton – Because we had to sail back overnight the ship travelled at 17 to 18 knots and the sail was nowhere near as smooth. It was by no means bad, but you could definitely feel the movement of the ship. 

However, the Captain announced at 7am that we were not yet in port and were sitting just off the Isle of Wight due to strong winds making it unsafe for us to dock. Over the next couple of hours announcements were made saying we were going to dock at the Mayflower Terminal instead of the Ocean Terminal and that we were expected to be alongside by 9am. 

In the end we did get into the Ocean Terminal, but it was a struggle and the ship needed tugs to get it moored.

Disembarkation – There were no groups for disembarkation. We were just told that passengers with their own luggage would be allowed off first at around 9.15am. Other passengers were told they would be called once the luggage had been unloaded. 

An announcement was made at around 10am that everyone could disembark. We thought it would be chaos, but it worked extremely well and we were off the ship within 15 minutes. It is probably due the fantastic ability us British have at queuing. There was no free for all, just an orderly line.


We still think of Princess as our favourite cruise line. There were pros and cons of sailing with P&O, but the cons outweighed the pros in our opinion. If P&O recognized our Princess loyalty level, we may well sail with them more, but that is very unlikely to happen. We would certainly sail with them again, but only where there is no Princess option.

One noticeable improvement on Princess was the lack of pushy sales promotions. however, that may have been because it was only a 3 day cruise.

Our prime objective of reaching Elite level before our next cruise in March has been achieved and we are looking forward to all those new benefits.

Peter & Jacky Rayner

Ocean Medallion Dropped from Our Cruises

Just noticed today after someone on Cruise Critic mentioned it, that the Ocean Medallion Roll Out is postponed from the Royal Princess.

I went to Princess' site and see that yeah the Ocean Medallion Banner has been removed.  

This of course will not make or break my holiday I am saddened but just looking at the blue water of the Caribbean with make me happy.

I was really wanting to try out Ocean Medallion.

I really wanted to blog about the entire thing.

I also booked four legs in a row so I could see the transition of the progress.

And final payment for the last leg went thru last week so can't even shorten the holiday by cancelling the last leg. 

But I also got great news today.  Great friends Paula and Min from Northern California will be sailing with us on the first leg!  

People are asking me all the time about the Ocean Medallion and how things are going, and what my thoughts are.  Well I am sure they are similar to how Princess Corp. is feeling. I am betting that this is not how they would of liked it to roll out.  Of course there are always hiccups with any change but I can't imagine that they thought it would be this bad.

I am sure they are just wanting to make sure everything is working well before they roll it out to another ship.  Which is smart.

Update:  got official email yesterday saying Ocean Medallion has been dropped.  Today I contacted Princess and spoke with a great rep by the name of Irma.  After discussing the situation and giving her the four booking numbers she put me on hold and spoke with the customer services rep.  After a long time on hold she came back to say that a $100 per person good will on board credit has been applied to each booking.  Much appreciated!  Thank you Princess!

So tell me - have you booked an Ocean Medallion Cruise and has it been delayed? 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dominica Dropped From Our Cruises in January

We knew it was a probability.  We knew it was coming.  But it was still sad to see the emails today from our travel agent - Best Price Cruises - informing us that there was an itinerary change.

We are sailing on the Royal Princess for four legs starting January 19.  

Originally we were to visit Dominica on three of the four cruises.

map still shows Dominica

Currently for the January 19th sailing Dominica is replaced with St. Kitts.  Ironically originally we were to dock in St. Kitts, but they changed the itinerary a while ago to Dominica.  

Currently for the January 29th sailing Dominica is replaced with Martinique.

map still shows Dominica

Our February 8th sailing has no changes.

Currently for the February 18th sailing Dominica is replaced with Martinique.

map still shows Dominica

We are looking forward to visiting Martinique.  We have never been to Martinique and I can't wait to explore it some more.  Also to use my French.

Do you have any recommendations for Martinique?  

But ultimately we are sad that we won't be stopping in Dominica.  The island really needs our dollars to help them.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Decided to Kiss the Ground In Sardinia By Accident

After a great rest after a great night we dress and we are on a mission to find a chocolate store to get some chocolates for Antonio (our host on our next let).

As I am walking and checking my phone for the route I decide my face would be better kissing the cobble stones!

Yup I take a tumble!  Banged my shoulder pretty good, but the worst is I twisted that darn ankle again - yup the left one.  

I have twisted it many times (three really bad sprains). You may remember when I twisted it on a ship a few years ago on the first day coming out of the washroom.

Today Bernie rushes to my side to help me up.  Oh right away I can see it swelling.  And the pain!  

Thankfully we are not too far from the hotel but a 4 minute walk takes around 15 as I hobble thru the pain.

As soon as we walk in the courtyard I take a seat while Bernie goes to get me ice.  The cleaners are just starting and they are concerned about me.  Oh the staff here are amazing.  They go to clean our room first so I can rest.

So looks like my day will be spent resting with my foot up and with ice.  Bernie will head out later to get me a tensor bandage so I can wrap it before we head out tomorrow.

We fly to Lisbon via Rome tomorrow.  But again it is not like we have to do a lot of walking.

Silly me - just glad this did not happen at the begining of the trip.

A Relaxing Day in Sardinia

We had a very relaxing day yesterday.  We spent the morning reading, watching Netflix, catching up with my blog and napping.  Seems we needed it.

We went out around 11 to explore. The town is not large and easy to get around on foot.  After walking around for 2 hours we found a nice restaurant whose menu was on a chalk board and in Italian.  This is usually a good sign.  Means the menu is with fresh ingredients that are in season and it doesn't cater to the masses.

They don't speak much English but they do speak French so the waiter explains the menu to us in French.

I start with a mixed green salad and Bernie has a Calprese salad and for our main dish we share a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce.  We also split a half litre of house wine and a bottle of sparkling water.  Total bill was 25 E.

We explore some more, especially the main church and end up in our favorite gelato spot for gelato.  We earned it after reaching our goal of 10,000 steps.

Back at the hotel we rest (ha as if we are tired, but it feels good) from 4 pm to 7 pm.

Tonight we are going to the hotel's main restaurant which is called Sa Turre which is located in a different building but only a short walk from our hotel.  

It is up on the top floor - and when we arrive we are presented with two glasses of sparkling wine and lead to the open terrace where we have beautiful views of the town.  Right away it puts us in the perfect mood.

We are led to a lovely table for two where we can look out at the views.

We inform the waiter we are vegetarian and if he could prepare something for us and we trust him.  This way has never disappointed us and it doesn't again tonight.

We start with a litre of their house wine which was very good and very affordable.  

We are then served a platter of roasted Vegetables with olives as our starter.

Our main course is the traditional pasta from Sardinia.  Looks like little gnocchi but it is not it is just a smaller shape and made with pasta.  The sauce is zucchini and fresh cherry tomatoes in a tomato sauce.  So yummy.  But a lot of pasta and we couldn't even finish the plate.  Plus we want dessert.

I ask about the traditional Sardinia dessert of the cheese filled pastry that is baked/or fried served with local honey.  Yes they have it and that is what we get to share!  Oh my it is so good and the honey is so flavourful.

The entire meal was 54E and the ambiance was priceless, very romantic and quiet with stunning views.

As we stroll back to the apartment we are reflecting on this amazing time here in Sardinia and how glad we are that we came.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Day After the Wedding

We wake early and head outside to the beautiful courtyard for a great breakfast that is included in the stay at Mannois Albergo Diffuso.

I can't say enough about how nice the staff are here.  After so few days they welcome us by name and know what we want before we even ask for it.

The rooms are so comfortable and so charming.  Enough character from the past but with modern ammenities.  

I think the only negative is their wifi needs a stronger router as it is rather weak throughout the grounds.

If you are coming to Sardinia I can highly recommend Mannois Albergo Diffuso.  

Today is another gathering.  This time back at Laura and Franco's home.  A final meal together before everyone heads home.

Once again we are served course after course of amazing foods.  

Today a whole roasted pig is served (we did not have any but we heard it was delicious).  The pasta course was once again amazing.

I especially love the vegetable course - here they serve a plate of raw vegetables.  Usually fennel, radishes, celery, carrots, cucumbers and lettuce.  

Dessert is leftover wedding cake and cookies.

Then the liqeurs come out again.  You name it we had it.  

In the end it was a fun day, with lots of laughs and love.

It is hard to say goodbye to all these wonderful people we have just met but feel we know so well.

We will never forget our time here.  Thank you Laura and Franco for including us in this special event.

Wedding Day

We wake a little tired after such a late night.

We need to get moving.  Breakfast, shower, and dressed for the wedding.

Around 10 am people start gathering outside the hotel where Laura (the bride) is staying with her parents.

It is customary for the Groom to arrive greet the Bride and her family.

Franco with his sister and brother

Tradition is also that people greet them with a plate with rice on it, with flower petals, candy and coins.  This is then smashed in front of the couple and hoping to break in many pieces - which is suppose to bring them great luck and fortunes. 

I have video of the Mother of the Bride and the Bridesmaids doing this but will have to wait till I get home.

We all proceed to the church - a long parade of cars - beeping horns.  

The church is remote and is called Santa Maria of the Sea.  It is where seafarers would go to seek refuge and guidance and come back to give thanks for a safe journey.  Makes sense to get married here since they met at sea.

It is a beautiful ceremony - all in Italian.  Beautiful singing!  I too have video of the singing that I will post when I get home.

After the service we all throw rice as they exit the church.

We all parade down to the reception that is held at a stunning resort (that we passed when we went to the beach the other day).  Apparently Franco use to work there.

An afternoon reception starts out in the garden with appetizers and drinks.  

We make friends with some young people that are friends/relatives of Franco.  They want to practice their English.

The reception hall is HUGE and we all can find our table by an appropriate seating assignment that has Princess ships with names assigned to each ship.  

Don't look too closely as the person who did up the board was told to add Royal Princess.  They searched the web and got Princess and Royal Caribbean intertwined.  So some of the ships are acutally RCL ships.  But hey I think we are the only ones that would notice the wrong ships.  It was a cute touch.

Our table assignment is the Majestic Princess.

Now let the feast begin!  The meal lasted 3 hours.  

Antipasta to start - cheese, meats, olives, fried vegetables
Seafood - shrimp, octopus, squid, salmon
Pasta - two different kinds
Veggies cours
Seafood course - salmon, swordfish, squid, octopus, shrimp, and more
Meat course - veal and pork
Fruit course
Wedding Cake

I am sure I am missing something.  We were full, and we did not eat many of the courses as we stuck mainly to vegetarian items - plus the cheese.  

Around 5 pm Bernie and I went for a stroll around the grounds.  The site is stunning, and would be lovely to stay at.  A bit remote though, you would definately need a car.

Around 7 pm we left to rest at the hotel, but ended up not returning for the dancing as we were just so tired.   It was a very long day and I am not sure how they managed for so long.  

Others went back for the dancing and even more food.  We heard it was great fun.

Overall it was so nice to experience an Italian wedding in Sardinia with all it's customs.  We felt very welcomed and part of the family.

First Two Days in Orosei Sardinia

I am trying to catch up with the posts about our time here in Orosei.  Of course when attending a wedding it is packed with events and I have not really had time to write.

On Friday we woke and ended up finding a small laundrymat to do our wash.  While clothes were in the machines I went for a stroll.  As I walked I heard beeping but heck I don't know anyone here, again I hear a beep.  Well later I find out both Franco and his brother in law passed me walking and they each beeped.  So already I know this is a friendly place and I am running into people I know.

It is quite warm out and we decide to go for a stroll after putting the clothes away.  

The town is not large but it is a maze of street with numerous hills in the old town.  Everything looks the same and it took us a few days to get our bearings.  

Even delivery of wood closes a small street in the old town.

We stop for gelato and then back to the hotel for a bit of rest before heading out for a welcome dinner hosted by Franco and Laura at a local restaurant called Villa Fumosa.

A huge U shaped table takes up most of the restaurant and as the guest arrive I feel like I am again in a movie.  The drinks start, the pizza starts, the laughs and toasts start.  

Even though Bernie and knew no one except the Bride and Groom we soon know a ton of people.  We are welcomed just like we are family.

The next morning we decide to venture further afield.  I really want to see the beach.

We start walking and after about 45 minutes we are at a beautiful beach.  It is hot out and there are quite a few people here considering it is October.

We do put our feet in and it cool to the touch but I am pretty sure it would be easy to get use to.

There are numerous bars/restaurants along the beach area.  Many are closed for the season but there are still a few open.

We make our way back to the hotel where we shower and change for an open house at Laura and Franco. 

It is traditional to hand out cookies and sweets to the guests. The baskets that are being used are ones that Franco's Mom made and are a treasure.

Later that evening we head to a hall to have a huge dinner served by Franco's friends/family.  The place is packed.  I am guessing around a 150 people!  And this isn't even the wedding.

The food never stops, the wine never stops, and we are full and drunk - but not too drunk.

When we get back to the hotel we quickly hear the groomsmen arrive with Franco and Laura.  Laura is staying at the same hotel we are with her parents and sisters tonight.

Tradition has it that they serenade the bride, while we pour the drinks to get them to leave.  

We went thru quite a few bottles of the traditional liqeur.  I have a lot on video of this and it really should be seen but that will have to wait until I get home as I need my computer and wifi to do it justice.

Soon the men leave and we are back in bed, resting for a very long day tomorrow.

will add more pictures and videos when I get home so check back.