Category Archives: Entertainment

Why I want to go on an eight-day Emerald Waterways river cruise through Europe

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Cruising *our* style –  Emerald Waterways, doing it right!

Have you ever thought “I’d love the idea of going on a cruise…. But not with thousands of unknown people for weeks!” Or perhaps “I wish cruises visited some really INTERESTING places, not just seaside-touristy-destinations…”? My husband and I thought these very same things, and simply resigned ourselves to not cruising.

But then….. during a trip visiting the some of the capitals of Europe….. we were searching for the striking Holocaust Memorial “The Shoes on the Danube Bank”.

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It involved a bus from our hotel, an extended walk to locate the promenade we wanted, and then, some detective work as to how to get around all the construction and actually across the busy road to the site. Aggravating but so worth the effort!

Then, we spied a riverboat cruiser.Image

I took photos thinking it was pretty neat looking.

Now, we didn’t actually know what it was, just noticed people coming and going, simply stepping off the gangplank and strolling along the promenade. They looked happy and relaxed, about to embark on the adventures offered by this city….. and definitely not the way we had felt, struggling with luggage and unfamiliar train/subway stations.

They stepped off their boat and were in the middle of all the action. No transfers, no taxis, no subways/trains/buses….. We thought “Wow – what a great way to see this city – and look at all that GLASS to look through! We should do that.” And promptly forgot all about that travel option in the efforts to get to the next capital.

Fast forward to the next year’s vacation planning, and while looking over previous photos, we noticed the one with the riverboat cruiser. 

But these are brand-new riverboat cruisers.  They are modern, sleek and offer up all sorts of creature comforts and conveniences for passengers. Try out a heated pool, a fully-retractable glass roof, pop-up bars, an interesting indoor/outdoor balcony experience and al fresco dining/movies. Wow!

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So, I began investigating costs, routes, different cruise lines, etc. And one name kept popping up as a new entrant into the European river cruising world…. Emerald Waterways.   

Why consider Emerald Waterways? Look at what all is included….

All meals and tips. Free Wi-fi on board. All port/entry and transfer charges. Airfare from UK locations as well as others. Shore excursions and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Brand new ships. Wine, beer and soft drinks are included. And every stateroom has a river view!  All included.  No giant bill at the end of the cruise.

Since we’d first seen the riverboats on the Danube, and wanted to go re-visit a number of things we’d yet to explore there, we began investigating that particular offer, the “8-day Danube Delights” cruise. More info is available here… and here’s a map of the stops – looks perfect for us as it includes a couple of our favorites, plus new stops!

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Now, we’re not fans of “forced” sightseeing. We’re not much for shepherded groups being rushed through museums and such. We like a bit of structure and some suggestions and information…. Not being led around by a leash. But this itinerary includes some walking tours, guided tours, sightseeing drives, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and something that’s *truly* different, an afternoon tea hosted by a local Slovakian family – now how fun and personal is that? Looks like there’s enough free time built into the schedule so we’ll be able to customize our adventure as we choose.

Now, what about the accommodations? Well, Take a look at one of their proposed staterooms we’re considering…. Nice digs, huh? Go ahead and take a look at their .pdf brochure….just don’t drool while you’re looking. <smile>

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Yeah, Emerald Waterways has won us over. They will be our choice for European River cruising and you’ll read all the details about our trip right here!

King of Liver

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Now, just so y’all know I don’t make this stuff up…. here’s a photo….

King of Liver.  Yes.  Really.

King of Liver. Yes. Really.

I understand that literal translations are sometimes “off” here…. But really?

 

Yes, I can hear the conversation now….

 

“So, where do you wanna go for supper tonight, honey?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know.  Where do you want to go?”

 

“Well, I’ve really had a hankering for a big ole plate of liver lately…..”

 

“Ah…. Well, no place to go but to the ‘King of Liver’ then – let’s go!”

Who remembers pull-tabs?

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Wait…. is that what you call these?  Pull-tabs?  Those metal rings with a finger-hole, and a small attached piece of metal from the top of a drink can….. right?  Pull tabs?  Aluminum cans used to have these, they came completely off the top of the can, a separate piece.  Now, you just push down on the top of the can, poking the piece of metal and whatever was on top of it into your drink……

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I swear, the last time I can remember seeing these was sometime in the mid 80’s maybe??  We had a dear friend that when he drank beer from a can, he’d toy with the pulltab thing, eventually cutting his fingers…. crazy.  And, I’ve been told stories about college kids that literally had so many of these that they made long strands of them, bending one piece over the other, and had enough to make doorway curtains out of them!

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So – when was the last time you saw one of these??  Me?  Last week…. <smile>

How Not to Buy a Persian Carpet

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You may enjoy this hilarious but apt description of the purchase of a Persian Carpet by a fellow blogger…. Longhorns and Camels….. read on and smile……

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I rarely answer the door when the bell rings unless I am expecting someone.   When I do answer, I usually have to say no to various salesmen, like the toothless Omani man who wanted to sharpen my knives, or that ever persistent Pakistani gardener who has been trying to steal the job of our current gardener for over a year now.  No open door, no unwanted interactions.  Easy.

On a balmy March afternoon, however, I broke my rule and opened the door to find Yemeni carpet salesmen on the other side.  I stole a glance at the stacks of carpets in back of their van.  I knew I wanted to buy a carpet before leaving Dubai, and I had heard these door-to-door salesmen offered great deals on carpets.  I agreed to let them in, solely to learn more about the carpets and get a feel for what I might want,

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Brunch and a Polo Match, dahling…..

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Now, those of you that know me know that I am *anything* but upper- crust.  I’m a pretty down-to-earth kinda gal.  But I’d wanted to go to one of these Friday Brunches forever.  They’re pretty pricey,  though, so when my friend Koral came through with a great discount with a Cobone voucher deal (kinda like Groupon) – we jumped on it.  Plus, it was at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club, literally *right* across the street from where we live!

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Brunch is from 1 – 3 pm, and after brunch, there’s a polo match to which we were given complimentary admission, and could view from the terrace of the polo club.  I’m thinking “cool – brunch and a polo match, this will be fun!”  And it was!

First off, though, let me fuss a bit.  On the vouchers, there’s a dress code requirement listed “smart casual”… no shorts, Tshirts, flip flops, sneakers, trainers etc.  I’m thinking “OK,  but TBG will wanna wear his sneakers…..”  When the club called me to confirm our reservation and to remind us to make sure we brought our vouchers,  they also mentioned that there was a dress code requirement.  I’m thinking overkill, but it’s all good – we’ll dress smartly casual.

Uh yeah…. Apparently , clothing does not matter a bit.  We saw everything from the shortest of jean shorts with racer-back T-shirts and flip flops to men’s khaki shorts and sneakers.  TBG thought for sure I’d tried to put something over on him just to make him “dress up”….. *sigh*.  Word to the wise – just dress comfortably, I suppose, because it certainly did not seem to matter at all what one wore to this brunch.

OK, on to the foods- and oh my goodness was there food!  Each room had a different course,  and thankfully we were conveniently seated in the ice cream and dessert room <smile>.

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Don’t you just love those tiny little one-bite servings of dessert?  In six or seven bites, you can sample chocolate mousse, cheesecake, custards, carrot cake, an arabian sweet called halwa (and there’s an excellent youtube video here on exactly how to make this morsel!), just an awesome assortment of yummies.

Then there was a salad room,  with both cold and room temp salads, a bread and sushi room, a side dishes and cheese room, and the entrees were outdoors.

I’ve taken a photo of a couple platefuls so I could remember what all was offered.

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Salads were plentiful and tasty – mozzarella and tomato was my favorite, followed by a krab and cucumber….. sad, I know, but I love that whitefish krab stuff with the red dye.  <smile>

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Now, the entrees were outdoors, there was a shawarma and fajita station, cooked to order.

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And the gent that was offering up various curries, and some awesome butter chicken – so very kind, offering descriptions of what all was in each dish, level of spiciness, etc. of each.  I asked if I might photograph him, and he proudly smiled and nodded “yes”.

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Now, there was also a man at a huge grill that I photographed from the back, but I stood in front of him – literally *right* in front of him facing me for over two minutes, and he never acknowledged me.  I started to walk off as TBG walked up and the grilling man said “madame, madame, may I help you??”  Uh yeah, sure…. When TBG comes you wanna pay attention to me, right?  Sheesh.  Anyhow, TBG got some awesome rib roast, roasted corn and potatoes there.  Me?  Nada.  Twerp.

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Oh, and in the Sushi/Dim Sum/Seafood room, there was a bread cupboard!  Now, I’d never seen bread displayed and served from a cupboard, and I thought it was pretty dang cool and innovative.

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Closeby, there were the cold soups in a cupboard as well, gazpacho and something green that I forget, perhaps we’ll be able to see the tag when I add the photo.  But they were served in stemmed glasses, and looked very appetizing!  The cheese plate was kinda small, but a good-tasting collection.  The cold cuts and shrimp got my attention…. I’m a big boiled shrimp fan!

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Desserts were pretty amazing – tiny bites of carrot cake, brownies, chocolate mousse, mango or strawberry parfaits, an apple crumble with warm vanilla sauce (this was GOOD!), some tiny little fried bits of something that were totally addictive.  I only put two on my plate, and could honestly have eaten the ENTIRE platter of them.  Honest.  They were sweet, slightly crunchy, tasted buttery somehow, and perhaps a bit of cardamom??  Shaped like tiny little peanuts, they were awesome.  There was an icecream case with a big variety of commercial frozen goodies, as well as a gent making crepes and filling them with any of an assortment of goodies for you.  Oh, and a chocolate fountain with fruits and marshmallows to plunge.

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We tried valiantly to get our server to bring us beverages.  She was cute as can be.  But  bless her heart, she would bring one cup of coffee at a time, when we’d ordered three.  Twice.  When I said “But, honey, we need two more, a rose wine, and a diet coke with ice.”  She said “oh, I bring one, tray is so small.”  I said “you’re bringing one drink at a time because your TRAY is too small?”  She said “yes madame”.  Wellallrightythen.  We’re gonna be thirsty.  But we’ll be someone else’s thirsty customers, cause it’s time for POLO!

Ah – Polo, the Sport of Kings.  Now, I’ve never been to a polo match before.  The closest I’ve ever come to seeing a match was watching the Julia Roberts-Richard Gere movie “Pretty Woman”   And I’m betting that TBG thought I would likely act just like this…..

I thought of it as some rich playboy kinda sport, requiring a ton of money and time.  I think I’m right.  But we were seated on the terrace, in the shade, on cushy sofas with a guy to bring you whatever your heart desires.  We felt like some kinda celebs or something.  <smile>  My friend Koral sure looks like she’s engrossed in the play, doesn’t she?

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But, it was fun to watch, even if I didn’t understand the subtle nuances of the game…. I did remember  (from that movie) that at the end of the second “chukker”….. all the audience got up and went down on the field to stomp the horse-divots back down, perhaps to keep the horses from tripping??  I honestly don’t know why, but it was surely fun!  Someone *could* have mentioned to me that it’s bad form to take your drink out onto the field with you…. sheesh!

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Notice the cars on the other side of the field?  They’re kind of like the equivalent of US tailgaters – they pay some money for the privilege of having a front-row seat, picnic and visit….. and they’re up close and personal with the riders, too.  But when those horses are thundering past and you can hear them and feel them and there’s dirt flying up and you can smell them it’s a pretty intense feeling!

I did learn that the horses get changed out and walked around to cool off or warm up, and that the teams have “people” to do that.   While the players were riding their ponies, there was always a couple of people riding their other ponies…. One cooling the previous horse down, the other warming up the next horse to play.  It really was an interesting process to watch.   It was an interesting day, and on the way out, we stopped to see where some of the “companion” critters were hanging out while their friends were out playing polo.

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So, brunch and a polo match….. would I go to another one?  Perhaps.   But honestly?  I’m more a “watch NASCAR on TV while inside on the sofa in the air conditioning” kinda gal…… <grin>