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Sunday, September 22, 2013

By the way ...... I forgot to tell you that we arrive home safely!!

Our holiday seems like a distant memory now - but, we arrived home safely.

The last time I blogged, we were still on the Cruise and we were in Alaska. Let me just refresh my memory ....... ah yes. I remember now. Here is brief spattering of what we did;

We stopped at Juneau and we had Halibut and Chips. It was awesome. It was almost like chicken.

We went to the Alaskan Brewing Company. That was really special! Unfortunately, they dont export out of the US. If they are available where you live - you have got to try them!
A funny thing happened when we arrived in Ketchikan. Like the other ports, we hadnt organized anything to do. If we felt like doing something, we hoped that there would be a tour operator on the pier offering something. At this port - there was nothing. And, we didnt really feel like doing anything (well, I didnt anyway). So, we saw a MASSIVE sign that said "FREE WIFI." So, we walked over there. The singer from the cruise ship that we liked was there, so we chatted with her briefly. Then, Kylie Googled "What to do in Ketchikan" and THIS was the top result on the search engine.

Now, onboard - we heard NOTHING about this. Our cruise ship was called the Celebrity Century - the stricken vessel was the Celebrity Millennium. It was a newer, and bigger cruise liner. So, we were asking the local businesses what the story was and they said that it was stranded in port for five days and was only moved THE DAY BEFORE we arrived.

Next Port of Call was Ketchikan. This was a attraction called the 'Fish Ladder'. Here is an excerpt from the Fodor website 'Get out your camera and set it for high speed at the fish ladder, a series of pools arranged like steps that allow fish to travel upstream around a dam or falls. When the salmon start running from June onward, thousands of fish leap the falls (or take the easier fish-ladder route). They spawn in Ketchikan Creek's waters farther upstream. Many can also be seen in the creek's eddies above and below the falls. The falls, fish ladder, and a large carving of a jumping salmon are just off Park Avenue on Married Man's Trail. The trail was once used by married men for discreet access to the red-light district on Creek Street.'

At first I couldnt see the fish. But, then - couldnt miss them!!!!

It was a beautiful setting for the town. 

Ida, Shaneika and Tania from Brooklyn, NY. These girls were on our table and are experienced cruisers. They made mealtimes interesting. Great to meet you girls.

As the sun went down, I took this picture. Just beautiful.

Kylie and the Ships Captain. People pay money to meet him - we saw him at the brunch buffet and he was only too happy to meet us and have pictures. Fortunately, his surname was not Schettino. 

Check out the setting of this building we saw as we were travelling. Can you see it?
Here is a zoomed version of that picture. Definitely, someone who wants to 'get away' from civilization.

Our table buddies for the trip. And, I WAS THE OLDEST ON THE TABLE!!!!! My worst nightmare came true.
I cant even remember where this was taken. But, I like it. Its NOT a selfie.

Back in Vancouver. Our host took us on a lightning tour of the city that day. We were smashed so that was really all we were capable of doing that day.
We went to Stanley Park. It was enormous!

The view towards North Vancouver from an outlook point at Stanley Park.
 The next day, we caught the ferry and went across to Victoria.
We went to Victoria and we drove through Sidney. Lol!

Seriously, peeps - PLEASE can you frame a photo the way that I set it up when I ask you to take the photo.

Me wearing my 'Im still young' sunglasses! At least they weren't the fluoro orange ones I picked up first. 

We went to Parliament House (or whatever its called). The underside of the dome is spectacular.

A close-up detail of the tile floor

Where Parliament sits.

There was something important about this stained glass window but I forget what it was.

This is an EMpressive building. Its a hotel. Apparently, when the Queen is in town, she has high tea here. We went for a look to see if we should also do high tea. If prices arent on the menu, then you know its too expensive. So, we gave that one a wide berth.

Where we had lunch. And, I watched a soccer match (I know, its hard to believe.)

Yes, the sign DOES read "Recycled and Odorless Paper Products made with Moose Poo"

The setting of the Empress Hotel is just beautiful

This is the museum in town. We went to go in, but it was closing in an hour, so we sat in the lobby and used their WiFi.
Rather than having High Tea in the Empress Hotel, we decided to have coffee on what they call 'The Verandah. It is actually just under the sign that reads 'Empress Hotel' and a mere wall separates you from those having High Tea.
This was what we chose - Creme Caramel Three Ways. Actually, it was two ways as one of them was an Earl Grey Creme Caramel and both Kylie and I think that Earl Grey tastes (and smells) like detergent. Sorry Maureen.
After ...... I dont think we liked it at all.
Back in Vancouver - our awesome hosts took us to see Fly Over Canada. Its hard to explain, so here is the website. And, here is a trailer. Its like Imax. But, it is truly immersive. It was just spectacular.

 After the show, we were walking along Canada Place and were reminded of home......sob, sob, sob.....
Its the name of a city in Alberta 
I promise - its the name of a city in British Columbia.

One of our fave restaurants in Melbourne is called the Trattoria. Which reminds me - Kylie, we should go there - its been AAAAAAAAAAGES!! Anyway, back to Vancouver - we went to a restaurant called ........ The Trattoria! Interesting story - the waiter is from Bulgaria. So, I spoke the only Bulgarian that I know (excuse spelling) Chadapo-gashti. What does it mean? Thermal Underwear. I know - weird!

We went to Costco - its enormous! And, these 3in1 boxes of sugar filled cereal are ensuring that the obesity epidemic continues to the next generation. 
Greg and Maureen were going to have some of their friends over for tea (or Dinner) as we were leaving the next day. So, Kylie offered to make her award winning (quite literally) scones. One year, Kylie was working at the Melbourne Show and she got talking to a Margot who had entered the scone making competition. This lady was disappointed because her scones won second prize and last year, she won FIRST prize. Anyway, Kylie said 'Id love to get my hands on the recipe' - and MARGOT EMAILED IT TO HER!!!!! And, they are THE BEST scones in the world (see link below).

This is what the scones are SUPPOSED to look like;
Light and Fluffy - they are delicious puffs of heaven!

Served with Jam and Cream ...... delicious! Kylie - when are you making some more for me????
So, after talking up how GOOD the scones are, Kylie made a double batch to make sure that no one missed out. And, this is how they turned out!
Um - what went wrong???? 
To say that I was devastated is an absolute understatement! I had been DYING for the scones after talking about them all day! So, Kylie and Maureen were brainstorming; Kylie checked the measurements and that was right, she checked that the cream was full (not skinny) and that was right, she said 'I just dont understand - the recipe is so simple; Self Raising Flour, Cream, Baking Powder, Milk and Salk.' And, Maureen said 'What is self raising flour? We only have Flour in Canada' and sure enough - Self-Raising Flour is a new item in Canadian Supermarkets. That afternoon, we went to this cool village called Steveston and they went to the supermarket and they found it and rushed home to make them. This is how much of a luxury item - it was more than SEVEN dollars. But, the scones were made and they were great!

Would you like the recipe to Margot's Scones? Well, click here. This blog belongs to Marianna Gates. Marianna lived next door to Kylie in Worongary on the Gold Coast when she was growing up. Marianna asked around for a good scone recipe and Kylie shared it with her and she blogged about it. Marianna is an awesome cook and has won competitions. She has the most amazing photos of her work on her blog - in fact, the pictures of the scones above are from Marianna's blog. 

Back to Steveston for a moment. We went there for a few hours. As mentioned - it is a fishing village and is super hip and cool. We loved it. We went into this awesome shop called Nikaido. Here is a link to their website. The website currently under construction - but it is the coolest gift shop I have ever been in.

So, that night, we met some new friends;

Dave (standing next to me) asked 'I know you probably dont, but do you know someone from Perth - Annalisa Corica?' Um, yes! But, she isnt from Perth anymore. Small world, huh?
This is the only photo we have with our AWESOME hosts - thanks so much Greg and Maureen!!! We would LOVE to come visit you again.
Our hosts in Vancouver (Greg and Maureen Mattson) were awesome (cue round of applause for them!). They have been to Australia heaps and always (Maureen in particular) made fun of our accent. Here is a video of her where she was making fun of words (not accent) that we use and then at the end, she gives a translation.

Maureen - can you please repeat that????

If you would like to book a romantic vacation, here is the website that Greg and Maureen operate.
Excellent Romantic Vacations

Hard to believe that six weeks passed by without a hitch! Thanks to everyone that made our trip so special. We'll come see you all again sometime soon.

After travelling almost 24 hours total, someone was happy to see me - and I was happy to see them too!!

Bella and Jasper - they had a clip just the week before!!!
Are you a member of Flickr? If you arent, you should be (and I'm not being paid for this endorsement.) If you can download the app and check out all your photos online. Im considering posting all of our photos ever taken on our digital camera. There is ...... wait for it ....... ONE TERABYTE of free space online. Anyway, as I work my way through the thousands of photos we took, editing, cropping and deleting, I am slowly adding to the Photostream on Flick. Here is the link to see them. If you have an account, add me as a contact.

Also, I forgot to post this link - you might remember that we made a flying trip through Rochester and had a coffee with some of my mums relatives. Here is the video message that they left for the family in Australia.

Now, it came to my attention that if you received email updates while we were away, the links to the videos never appeared as they were embedded you tube clips. So, here they are in normal links;

Niagara Falls - Our Hotel Room - this was JUST AMAZING!
Busted Singing Celine Dion on Cruise Ship - dont give up your day job!!!!
Dessert Buffet on Cruise Ship
Visting Hubbard Glacier | Alaska
Stampin Up - Visit to Manufacturing Facility
On Board Celebrity Century Buffet Lunch
Karaoke | Havent Met You Yet
ATTN Canadians: Milk Does NOT belong in a bag
Las Vegas strip from a Helicopter
Central Park from Top of the Rock
Arrival at Stampin Up Home Office
Breakfast at Niagara Falls
Gondola Ride at the Venetian, Las Vegas
NYC | Visit to Statue of Liberty
Visit to 9/11 Memorial, NYC
Champagne Tasting on Celebrity Century
Driving from JFK airport in NYC
Las Vegas Limosine Ride
Stampin Up Incentive Trip | Charter Flight to St George
Mendenhall Glacier | Juneau, Alaska
St Regis Hotel - Our Room
On the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls

Thanks for reading our travel blog. This will now become our normal-life blog. When interesting things happen - Ill let you know!


  1. Oh my Bruno - you've put so much work into this post. There's much to take in but I guess for you it'd be a great place to return and read about your experiences and remind you of the wonderful holiday you and Kylie certainly seem to have had.

    Any time I pick up an American cookbook that catches my eye, I've noticed recipes using the halibut. I find it interesting to hear you describe it as 'chicken'. It looked very meaty.

    Seeing the salmon running sounds like an awesome thing to see. Very interesting.

    Whoa - that Empress Hotel looks amazing!! Loved the green ivy along the walls - gorgeous! And I wouldn't say no to their High Tea. "The Verandah" didn't sound half bad either.

    Hmmm. I don't think Maureen sounded like an Aussie at all!! Sounded more like an English imitation to me. All in good fun tho. They look and sound like lovely people.

    Funny that about the self raising flour. Fancy only being available recently. Guess they must do the baking powder measure with plain flour to get the extent of the rise they're after. Haha - poor Kylie - all that work for some deflated scones - oh well - good to know there was a reason behind it. Thanks for the plug BTW.

    You certainly made the most of your time there and some beautiful pictures to show for it.

    Thanks for sharing your holiday journal. Wonderful times.

    Love to you and Kylie xx

  2. Hi guys, greetings from Toronto :) wow! such a wonderful way to document the trip. It was great to see the Alaska pictures...makes me wish I was back on the boat. I'm already saving up for another trip next year :p

    Take care!
    F.O. (dinner table buddy)


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