Wednesday, July 18, 2012

these macaroons are making me thirsty

So day of embarkation we leave Hotel Jazz and get that super clutch breakfast. From there we went to the port as early as possible because we are all excited to check out the ship and act like true fat-americans and try every single buffet available. Of course we had the pre-req seapass photos, luggage checks, yada yada, but soon enough we were gloriously chowing down. 

For us, the first day on cruises is spent by grabbing a drink and learning the boat. It took a while to learn this boat because basically it was like a shopping mall on the inside. There was a cavernous promenade that looked the same from both sides so you could never tell where you were, except that pizza was on one end of the row {crucial knowledge}. There was also a sweet looking gothic style english pub in the middle of all that and I think we all knew immediately that we would be hanging out there on multiple occasions. It was right above the casino. 

Ah the casino. Naturally, this locale played a large part during this trip. We definitely lost money there. Actually, I think everyone did. Luckily for us, we're not huge gamblers, but we still fell prey to the roulette table's enticing invitation a few times. More casino capers will follow, but at this point the tables were closed 'til we left port.


{pictures of our ship}





{layne's parents had a walk in closet...}








Back on track, a half dozen bars and restaurants later, and after a quick brisk topside, we had a pretty good idea of the layout. After muster stations we headed to the first dinner of the cruise. 

Speaking of muster stations, is this not the single most annoying...yet so freaking vitally important aspect of cruising? Okay, so pretty much everyone knows you can't leave the practice muster station until everyone shows up and checks in, right? Right. Okay, so pretty much everyone knows that you literally cannot do anything until everyone shows up and checks in, right? Right. Okay, so pretty much everyone punctually shows up and checks in, right? WRONG. We literally waited an extra 30 mins for some rude cruisers to casually stroll down to their muster stations. These folks had their pool towels, drinks in hand, acting as if "oh hey, don't mind us, just checking in like everyone else." I mean, c'mon people. The only redeeming fact was that all us kids were at one muster station together. So we were miserable, but at least we were miserable together. Can't say the same for Joe and Mar--they were at their own muster station. 

So, yeah, again, after muster stations we headed to the first dinner of the cruise. 








{night one of gambling}

Everyday we needed to be off the boat no later than 8am, so every morning was an early one. Had to get ready, eat breakfast, drink coffee, ***have our morning trip to the restroom*** and take pictures of the port from the deck all before 8. But having to wake up that early is pretty darn easy when every morning has a different amazing view of some awesome city that we were about to explore.

So the first port was a new place that we have never been too--Toulon, France. This was our first time in France ever. Actually, except for the most miserable 30 minutes of our lives at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport last summer {read the carnage HERE}, it was our first time in France. We got into Toulon, walked around through the food market, saw some of the city, but we decided to go back to the boat around noon because: a) Layne's weird bug bite was starting to get worse; b) we had an excursion later; and c) it was a sunday and everything was closed.

{france in the background}


{toulon}


{market in toulon}






We went to the doc on the ship, got some medication for Layne {as well as relief for our nerves 'cause we were a little freaked out about it but the doc seemed pretty calm} and then bounded on to Bandol for some beer, beaches, macaroons {freakin' legit. lemon and pistachio. does it get better?} and classic cars. We bought some rose wine from Bandol to take back with us because it was apparently supposed to be really good. 



 {bandol}




 {the best macaroons ever. seriously ever. we dream of these babies}


 {pistachio and lemon}



 {such great beer}





Highlight: in Bandol we saw the biggest bottle of Hoegaarden we've ever seen. 26 ounce bottle. The size of a wine bottle. It was glorious.


{it's bigger than it looks}

That night: first formal night. Kyle sporting a new jacket. Kelly complimented Kyle on his outfit, Joe happened to overhear the compliment and made the following joking observation:

"If someone calls what you're wearing an outfit, and you're a guy, something is wrong."

Obviously Joe thought it was a little ridic. Judge for yourself.




I mean, it's just a pink jacket. But anyways, formal nights mean formal pictures and Cam and Nic had to do some embarrassing photos. Actually, that was a theme throughout the cruise. It seemed like all the photogs had to take a course offered by the line titled "A History of Awkward Poses: How to Make a Family Look and Feel Ridiculous." But no, these guys are serious. And they still print like every photo that they take. What a waste. They already have eight kiosks around there, you put your room key in there and it shows every photo you're in {they should get more of those things}.

Yet they still print off every photo. Every gosh darn photo. Even the ones with blinks that no one would ever buy. I mean, c'mon cruise lines. Free tip right there, save you thousands of bucks. Don't mention it.




 {they sang: happy anniversary to you, happy anniversary to you, happy anniversary to yooouuuu, happy anniversary to you}


Ended up playing mini-golf that night with an 8 year-old Saudi girl named Grenda. We think her brothers were supposed to look after her, but they were busy playing bball with all the other boys. Sounds like Layne's history. We could tell she wanted to hang out with the Dullea clan, especially 'cause she kept playing the hole we were on, walking around with a putter and ball, messing up our mini tiger woods instincts. Kyle ended up saying what little he knew in Arabic. She laughed. Obviously they don't mean what he thought.






 {hole in one}







Next day's lineup was Eze, Nice and Monaco. After walking around the port city {Villefranche} for a bit, we headed off with a tour guide. Eze was a pretty ridiculous town that looks like it's built straight into the mountain. Straight from the middle ages. At the top of the town is a little garden that's taken over the old fortress. What a view from the top. You can see the peninsula with St. Jean Cap Ferrat, which apparently has the world's most expensive real estate {we drove around it and def believe it}. 

We stopped in at this inn that's in Eze for a quick look around. It's called La Chevre D'or, the Golden Goat. Utterly ridiculous views. And what's more, as we were leaving the hotel, there was a cabinet full of delish looking potions. Kyle got a closer look at the bottles and noticed that the entire armoire was full of vintage brandy. I mean, we're talking 30 - 50 year old priceless spirits {well, they probably do have prices. $100+ dollars a glass probably}.

We kept walking around Eze, saw a few of the local homes {there are around 2500 people in the town in total, but only like 25 people live in the oldest part of the village, up on the rocks. can't remember exactly how many}, and just admired how crazy the construction of the city must have been.



 {beautiful sunrises in france}



 {villefranche, france}




 {our ship}





 {eze}


 {view atop eze}



 {and there's joe!}

After Eze, we headed to Nice for lunch and a stroll around the markets. We kept looking for an old map of the region to no avail. If anyone has/sees one, let us know. We'd be all over that trash.

Nice ended up being one of the cities that we wished we woulda had way more time. The color of the water from the boardwalk area was as blue as could be. Also, the airport in Nice is literally right by the sea so as you stand there looking out at the Med, it looks like the planes are coming right at you. 


 {nice, france}


 {the water in nice is beautiful}



Monaco was next, which was very cool. Small, but cool. Very obsessed with itself. Very into money. Very gilded. But fun nonetheless! We went into the main casino, promptly lost quite a bit of money, then left and gawked at the lineup of expensive cars.

Side note: the casino bar. There's no beer on the menu. Actually, check that. Yes, there was beer on the menu. No there wasn't any alcohol in said beer. The alternatives: mixed drinks priced at like $40 a drink. Needless to say, we didn't get a drink.



 {casino}


 {hideous car}



We imagine that race nuts get a kick out of seeing this place but neither of us are grease monkeys. Will say though that the place was crazy beautiful.





{normal kyle}


Stay tuned for next episode: Italy.