Royal Caribbean Chops Grille

The Finer Things Aboard Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean:  The Finer Things

In the world of cruising, family and budget friendly usually come to mind when thinking of Royal Caribbean cruises, not the finer things.  I want to share with you two experiences I recently had on the Vision of the Seas that were quite grand events and elevated my perception of service and epicurean significance.

Royal Caribbean

Vision of the Seas


Lafite Wine Tasting

When reserving the tasting, I did not realize it was Lafite and assumed it was the usual tasting offered on board most ships.  It was not!  Royal Caribbean has exclusively partnered with Domaines Baron de Rothschild Lafite and this program presents the history and details of these exquisite wines of the region of Bordeaux.  Chateau Lafite is a wine estate in France owned by members of the Rothschild family.  It is renowned as one of the most famous wine properties in the Medoc.  Producing primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, some Lafite Rothschild vintages are the most expensive wines worldwide for purchase.

We had a small group and an excellent sommelier.  As is usual in tastings, everyone is quiet at the beginning but are much more chatty as the wine continues flowing!  The sommelier is key.  Ours was very knowledgeable, but also a lot of fun!  I really enjoy wines and informative tastings, but I do not take them too seriously.  I want to learn and have a good time.  Since the wines are primarily reds, we started the tasting with the one white wine and moved up to the fuller bodied reds and ended with a classic dessert wine.   The wines tasted are below.  I loved the Bordeaux Blanc which is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc and the Medoc red which was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  They were all interesting to taste.  The wines flowed very freely and we were sent home with a beautiful folder packed with information regarding Lafite and the wines we tasted.    This is a perfect afternoon endeavor on a day at sea as long as you have time for a nap at the pool before dinner!

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Beach - The Traveling Gals
Ashley World Travel

5 Ways to Fight the Post-Vacation Blues

Tips for Fighting the Post-Vacation Blues

You get home from the airport. It feels so great to use your own bathroom and sleep in your own bed. You head back to work, get back into your routine, and all of a sudden it feels like you never even went anywhere.

Anyone who has been on a trip, particularly a long trip, knows this feeling. It is kind of strange when you are sitting work thinking, ‘Wow last week at this time I was snorkeling/hiking/lounging next to the pool drinking a Mai Tai.’

Beach - The Traveling Gals

Would rather be here.

While this may seem like a ridiculous problem to have, post-vacation blues (or post-vacation depression) is actually considered a real psychological thing that people experience.

Here are some tips that we use to try to not get so dang depressed after coming back from a trip.

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Halloween Celebrations Around the World

Halloween Around the World

Learn about Halloween celebrations in a few different countries around the world! Happy Halloween!


Did you know Ireland is considered the place where Halloween originated? The Gaelic pagan festival called Samhain marked the end of summer and beginning of winter, which was considered the darker half of the year and meant death for many. This period is when the dead were thought to return so villagers would light fires to ward off spirits. Irish immigrants brought the idea of All Hallow’s Eve to the USA.

Bunratty Castle Halloween

By: Kathy

Popular Events
Banks of Foyle Halloween Carnival in Derry

Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin

The Masquerade Mystery at Malahide Castle

Family Fun at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park


Halloween in England has become rather commercialized as well. But they do have many haunted castles and buildings to visit as well as some interesting celebrations that focus more on the end of the harvest and honoring the dead.

Ottery St. Mary Tar Halloween

Ottery St. Mary

Popular Events
Halloween in Cheshire

Guy Fawkes Day

Ottery St. Mary Tar Barrel Festival in Devon

Punkie Night in Hinton St. George

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Quick and Easy Pumpkin Rice Recipe

Pumpkin season is upon us! Although it certainly doesn’t feel like fall here in Florida, we still enjoy the change of seasons. By now you have probably seen a lot about pumpkin spice. We wanted a quick and easy way to add pumpkin to a meal, and decided to add it to rice! If you love pumpkin, this is a great way to get your pumpkin fix.
autumn pumpkin rice recipe

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Carol Cruising

Top 10 Tips for First Time Cruisers

Top 10 Tips For First Time Cruisers!

10. Fly in the night before to be on the safe side. It will give you more of a cushion in case of weather delays, lost luggage, etc.

9. If traveling abroad, look into an international call package before leaving (contact your cell provider for suggestions)

8. Stay on board on one of the Port Days. That ship will be less crowded and you can enjoy the onboard amenities and maybe have the hot tub to yourself!

7. Make reservations ahead of time for spa treatments and special dining options.

6. Pre-book special Shore Excursions before the cruise. The ones you want may be sold out once you get onboard.

5. Skip the elevator and take the stairs (if possible). This way you can burn off some of those extra vacation calories.

4. Pay attention to the time when going ashore. You don’t want to miss the ship because you didn’t realize you were in a different time zone!

3. Bring a small duffle bag or carry-on bag for the first day of arrival onboard with incidentals that you may need for those first few hours, like your bathing suit and a change of clothing. Usually your staterooms will not be ready when you first get onboard and luggage can sometimes take several hours to be delivered.

2. Bring your important documents (passport or birth certificate, visas, credit cards). Check and double check with the ship for individual requirements. You will not be allowed onboard without these!

1. Enjoy every moment! The days go by very fast on a cruise and soon you will be back to reality.

What tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

The Traveling Gals




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Top 10 Tips for First Time Cruisers


Book Reviews: North of Naples, South of Rome and Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria

Book Reviews: North of Naples, South of Rome by Paolo Tullio and Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria by Mark Rotella

I have switched gears a bit lately and my reading has been devoted to Italy.  The following are two books I enjoyed reading and made me long to spend time in Italy!


North of Naples, South of Rome

North of Naples is a recommendation from the Crystal  Cruises website.  The author was born in Gallinaro in the Comino Valley, but was educated and resides in the UK.  He returns to his family home in Gallinaro for summers.  It was written in the early 1990’s so it is interesting to have an older time period and the point of view of a non-American.  Paolo’s take on Italy’s economy was a time of Italian prosperity with an influx of foreign investors.  The politics were scattered and based heavily on the favor system, so not much has changed!

The stories told are typical Italian, but very interesting.  They offer an insight not often covered by many of the romance laden travel journals.  I found myself laughing and at the same time getting a deeper understanding of the passionate Italian people.  Paolo’s take on Naples for example goes beyond the typical, scary depiction of theft and non-safety.  It endeavors to make you think of Naples as a place for the ultimate hustlers, therefore only scary to the naïve.  Apparently, this book inspired a PBS mini-series in the 1990’s and I would love to see it!

Traveling Gals Tip:  When looking for interesting travel journals to read, I check upscale and river cruise websites for their recommended reading suggestions.

Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria

Stolen Figs has been on my reading list for some time.   I was happily entertained by Mark Rotella’s recounting of discovering the hometown of his family, Gimigliano.  I have never visited this part of Italy located in the toe of the boot.  It is much less traveled by tourists, which makes it very interesting to me.  Although life seems less prosperous and perhaps more difficult, it is easy to be drawn into the welcoming and charming family of the author.  Life in Calabria seems to be relatively unchanged over time for better or worse.

After arriving unannounced in Gimigliano, Mark and his father are welcomed with open arms by extended family and residents.  Particularly Giuseppe, an informal guide and postcard salesman, introduces Mark to the real Calabria.  Their adventures and fun and make me want to hop on a plane to visit immediately.  This is always the sign of a good book!  Apparently, figs right off the tree are the best in Calabria.  I never think about eating them, but I am now inspired to try a recipe with fresh figs!

Interested in reading one of these books?

North of Naples, South of Rome *

Stolen Figs: And Other Adventures in Calabria *

*These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these, we may make a commission.

Or check out your local library!

Let us know your favorite travel books in the comments!

Canoe Florida Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage in…Florida?!

Fall Foliage in Florida?!

We are starting to feel cooler breezes reminiscent of fall. Of course, this is Florida so that means a drop in humidity…not temperature!  Obviously Florida is not the first place that comes to mind when you think Fall Foliage.  When living in Chicago, Fall Foliage meant a weekend trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to see the beautiful leaves turning colors and hiking around the lake for the final time before winter.  Living in Florida, the colors are subdued but there is foliage nonetheless changing into muted hues of yellow, orange and red.  Fall colors can be seen on such trees as Cypress, Red Maple and Sorrel trees among others.  Since the evenings do not cool off until well into October/November, the leaves tend to change colors here sporadically and not until long after northern leaf changes have peaked.

Torreya State Park Fall Foliage

Torreya State Park – from

The Traveling Gals Tip:  Try something new and view foliage while canoeing!                                    

The panhandle and northern Florida are the best for viewing in places like Torreya State Park. This is a wonderful place for hiking, fishing, etc. and you can even spend the night camping or rent a yurt!  The stretch along I-75 north of Tampa is surprising hilly and can display a multitude of color, at least by Florida’s measures.  The I-10 corridor through the panhandle can some deeper hued color changes especially in the most northernmost part of the state.  Although Florida is not a conventional choice for Fall Foliage, it is a wonderful time of year in the Sunshine State to get out and experience nature.  If that is not enough for you…you can always travel!!!

Canoe Florida Fall Foliage

photo via Flickr user LOLren

Where are your favorite places to see Fall Foliage? Let us know in the comments!


Liebster Award Nominee

Liebster Award Nominee


Thank you Hannah from London Girl Lost for nominating The Traveling Gals for the Liebster Award! Since getting more into blogging I have seen other Liebster Award nominees’ posts and thought it was a great idea and now I get to write my own post!

Liebster Award is an exclusive online mark of recognition given to new bloggers by other bloggers. It is a way to discover new talents and help promote them. Those who have been nominated and choose to accept the award, should follow a set of general rules that come along.

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Tofu Shrimp
Healthy Living Kary

Grilled Sweet + Sour Tofu “Shrimp” Recipe from Australia

I am always looking for ways to take great recipes and make them healthy.  This adaptation is from the Grilled Shrimp served at the Australia booth in this year’s Food & Wine Festival.  All the ingredients are healthy and while I will eat seafood on rare occasion, I wanted to try an alternative.  I did a lot of research and found that tofu can be a viable alternative. I have never worked with tofu, but now is the time to give it a try.

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Alesund, Norway
Kary World Travel

Norway: Land of the Midnight Sun

Norway is known for its world famous fjords, majestic mountains and spectacular glaciers.  Norway encompasses a beauty so stunning it almost does not feel real.  The other two gals and I were lucky to visit Norway as part of a trip to Northern Europe.  We visited Bergen, Alesund and Geiranger.  Cruising the fjords to Geiranger felt like I was part of a movie.  The scenery was unbelievable.  When we arrived at the bottom of Geiranger fjord we embarked on the most memorable hike of our lives so far. The climb to the top was steep and physically demanding, but entirely worth it.  You could drink the crisp, cool glacial water streaming the waterfalls.  The view from top evoked a feeling that our small group was the only people in the world.  It was July so it was misty, but warm enough to wear pants and a light jacket.  The hike down was the most treacherous part as the mist created a slide of mud and foliage.  It was thrilling, exhilarating and unforgettable.

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