Thursday, March 24, 2011

WC 2011 Embarkation Day

12 February 2011

I woke up at my regular time of 6:30am- no jet lag!! We had another wonderful English-style breakfast..this time Eggs Benedict with, of course, extra hollandaise sauce.

A little souvenir shopping at Sky City (and a taxicab sprint across town to Jane’s purse place because she decided she really DID need that cute red leather purse after all!) and we were ready for the bus to take us to the ship.

While we waited, I had a lovely conversation with the owner of a beautiful white 1984 Excalibur, who was waiting to pick up a bride to take her to her wedding.

Here comes the bride!

New Zealand customs didn’t take long and we were processed and aboard the ship in time to have lunch in the Crystal Dining Room. Lunch was a wee bit decadent- spatzle with a wild mushroom ragout. Champagne flowed. Two of my sommelier friends Christian and Rafael kept pouring more and more. Perfect way to start any cruise. We saw many friends, including our senior waiter from last year, Sanli.

Unpacking was uneventful-I always bring 30 or so drip dry wire hangers as they take up less space. Our stewardess Evelyn was wonderful, making sure everything was just as we wanted it. This was her last cruise before her break- she had been on six months and was ready to get back to Estonia.

Our view from 9086.

SilverSea's Silver Spirit was docked a little ways from us.

She would follow us all along our route.

The ferry we took to Waiheke the previous day.

Dinner had been arranged by Bill for Silk Road. It was good to see Sigi, the Maitre d’ again. Christian convinced me to try an Italian Chardonnay which I surprisingly liked. French oak- not American. Must be something to that.

We left the selection of sushi and sashimi to the Chef (“omakase”, I believe is what you say), followed by Nobu Matsuhisa’s specialities, among them Waygu beef with three sauces and rock shrimp. As if that weren’t enough, I had one of my favorite desserts-sesame ice cream. Happy happy happy.

We attended the Maori show was an extended version of what we saw at the museum. Still nice. And we greeted many old friends.

Our sail away was not until midnight, but I was just too tired to stay up.

It was nice to be home- aboard Crystal Serenity.

WC2011 Waiheke Vineyards

As I said, we took the ferry out of Auckland harbor over to Waiheke Island, home of some wonderful New Zealand wineries.

The trip over was filled with scenic beauty.

(Can you imagine living up there???/)

The harbor, however, was NOT filled with taxis.

We started walking to the information stand. Two kilometers. Uphill. Nothing more needs to be said. Ever.

As we approached the town at the top of the hill, we managed to find a taxi- a DELIGHTFUL driver who was very willing to drive all six of us around for the day. A STEAL at $NZ 60 an hour.

First stop, Stony Ridge.

The entrance to the tasting room warmed my Buddhist heart. Isn’t the offering of roses charming?

The wine was great- I especially liked the Malbec and bought at bottle (which broke somehow while in transfer to the ship...domage) and got a terrific t-shirt for AJ. We didn't have lunch, as they were having a private party, but the cafe looked marvelous.

They also have an olive orchard--how much fun would THAT be?

As the grapes get closer to picking, nets are draped over the vines to keep away the birds.

But the growing never stops.

Then, across the ridges

and over to Te Whae (pronounced “te-fwa” in Maori)--a winery with the most amazing views ever.

Can you imagine waking up every morning to THIS?

For lunch, I chose a delicious rabbit and pork terrine with toast points. Perfect. Two different Sauvignon Blancs.....Astrolabe (lighter and less grassy) and Greywacke (more astringent and Sauvignon Blanc-like).

Sprinting back to the harbor, we barely made the 2pm ferry--but we did.

What a GLORIOUS day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

RIP Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor, the last true star of Hollywood- and maybe the greatest star of all- died today.

What magic she made.


Calling All Knitters!!!

If you are a knitter, you know we are a caring bunch! You have only to look at the money that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka the Yarn Harlot, has raised for Doctors Without Borders to see that. (yep, that's just over ONE MILLION. She beats us us ENCOURAGES us OFTEN to think about how much we have in comparison to so many others throughout the world....)

Now Wendy Johnson of Wendy Knits has offered a LOVELY triangular shawl pattern for sale, with 100% of the profits going to the Red Cross for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

See Wendy's blogpost and pattern here

And if you aren't into shawls (or knitting lace), she also mentions a log cabin quilt-inspired knit blanket by Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Here's the blanket information

And if you aren't a knitter, pick up some pointy sticks and string and BECOME ONE!!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two things to ponder

As we edge closer to $4 a gallon, I am happy to report my smartcar gets 40 miles to the gallon...

And does anyone else out there find this sign at my "girl" doctor's office in any way disturbing?????????

Life Continues...

Oh, I guess I should mention that life continues here at Maison Cou's not just about traveling...

The past two weeks have given us....

Caroline FINALLY got a car.... and Joel's real happy about that, too!!

It's a rare sight, so you have to see it...

Alix and new beau Wesley attended his Battalion Ball (he goes to Georgia Military College)

Alix participated in the GISA Region Literary tournament in Personal Essay and placed third...and the team WON REGION!!!!!

Alix and friend Cassi with the trophy!!

The whole team...

being SILLY

Wesley had an honors parade, so Alix and I went..

Alix had a track meet this past Wednesday...

She came in second in the 2 mile, breaking 15 minutes.....

And won the 800 by...oh, about 80 meters (You can barely see the second place girl waaaayyyy back at the top of the stretch).

While she recovered, I had the chance to be tall for once

(yes, I know, Jan-Olav, I am stealing the idea from you...)

This past Thursday was St. Patrick's Day...and we had a little celebration-

Anna is always up for a photo opportunity!

as are Kreslyn and Courtney.

The gang's all here (well, some--I didn't get everyone! Green wine will do that to you...)

Last night, the (first annual) Lock Stock And Barrel fundraiser to benefit the Georgia Rural Medical Scholars Program was held-and it was TONS of fun!

Skeet shooting, silent auction, topiary demonstration, vendors and music along with steamed oysters and a delicious buffet!

Katrina was working (as did Alix and others in the Washington County Youth Leadership Program), and I talked her into trying her first oyster.

I think it will probably be her last oyster, as well.

I didn't have enough time to catch the brilliant moon last night on the way home, but the clouds around it were sort of cool.

Now that should bring everyone up to date!!!!!!!!!!