Monday, November 12, 2012

Big Waves off Kangaroo Island, Australia

One of the days we toured Kangaroo Island, Australia, the waves were as high as 45 feet.  We, at are Aussie Specialists.   We can help you with your visit to Australia...both land-based and cruise vacations.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bon Appetit Culinary Center

During my time on the christening cruise of the new Oceania Riviera, my friend and sales manager from Oceania Cruises talked me in to taking a cooking class.  I agreed to do so in order to be able to better explain the concept to my travel clients.   Being one who does not cook I wasn't sure what to expect.  Not only did I greatly enjoy the class, the paella we made was delicious!  

As far as I know this is the only such program at sea.  The photos in this blog post show the classroom on the ship.  There are three rows of "cooking stations" where five or six teams of two in each row have their own utensils, heating unit and set of ingredients.  

Throughout the class, students move to the front of the room to observe the cooking instructor as he or she prepares the particular dish designated for the class.  Students then return to their own stations to prepare their own dish.  

For those sailing on the Riviera or Marina from Oceania Cruises, I highly recommend taking one or several classes through the Bon Appetit Culinary Center.  

Celebrity Chef Cat Cora welcomed us to the class.   She was on board the inaugural cruise as she is the godmother of Oceania Riviera.

Teams of two share a cooking station. 

At several times during the process, students move to the front of the room to observe the instructor's process.

Each team of two gets their own set of ingredients for their dish.

As each ingredient is added, the instructor explains the order and the method of preparation.

To further assist, a large screen monitor is located at the front of the room.

Yours truly creating his first paella.

Our finished product!
Each participant is given a "Bon Appetit Culinary Center" apron to wear during the duration of the class period.

Throughout the class, assistant chefs are on hand to help each individual team of two.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sites of Barcelona, Spain

Here are a few of my photos from our two days in Barcelona, where the Oceania Riviera was christened.  This is one of my favorite cities in Europe, despite the mishap I experienced on this visit.  

I had just finished telling some people on the ship to be very careful with their belongings because Barcelona is known by some to be the pickpocketing capital of Europe...if not the world.  Ten minutes later my pocket camera was gone.  I was on my way to have dinner with two friends of mine who live in Barcelona.  I was determined not to let the theft affect my time with my friends or my liking of Barcelona.   

I'm a very savvy, cautious traveler who had my camera in my front pocket and my shirt-tail covering the opening to my pockets.  I'm always aware of who is around me and who is getting too close.  I know most of the "schemes" they use to distract people.  Yet they "got" me.  They are masters at their work.  I decided to pray for them rather than let them ruin my trip.  That said, I had more photos than the ones you see here to share on my blog...they were on the missing camera.  

The most famous landmark in Barcelona is La Sagrado Familia, a church that has been under construction for decades.  The facade of the church facing east has more traditional art depicting the nativity and the one facing west has more modern, contemporary designs of the passion of Christ.   This photo was taken on the traditional side.  Antoni Gaudi, the famous architect, took over this project in 1883 and devoted most of his final years in the 1920's to this building.  At that time it was less than 25% complete.  As you will see in the following photos, Gaudi's influence is present throughout Barcelona and the surrounding area.

Gaudi's original plan called for 18 spires...12 for the apostles, 4 for the evangelists, 1 for the virgin Mary and the tallest for Jesus Christ.  The scheduled completion of the church is still years away.  If all goes as planned, it will be the tallest church building in the world...but will be one foot lower than than the hill that towers over Gaudi did not want his creation to be taller than God's creation.

If you look closely at this photo you'll see a large bubble floating through the air...the woman approaching it has no idea it is there.  

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip as this child gazes in awe at the giant bubble floating by.

For those visiting Barcelona, I recommend you go to the park overlooking the city of Barcelona.  Here you can really see the influence of Gaudi.  In this photo and the one below you can see two buildings that are part of this park.

On our excursion we stopped at a small church that also was designed by Gaudi. Most of the photos I took of that church were on the camera mentioned above, but I did manage to get this photo of the exterior of the church with my second camera.  

This is the other most famous site of Barcelona...Las Ramblas.   It is a street lined with shops, vendors and street performers.  This photo was taken early in the morning, but in the afternoon and evening the walk becomes alive with activity.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Look at the New Oceania Riviera

I was lucky enough to be invited aboard the brand new Oceania Rivera for her Christening Voyage.  Only 250 travel agents worldwide were invited to take part so we were honored to be among those invited.  Here are a few photos of the new vessel.  In our opinion, this is Oceania's most impressive masterpiece.  Since we are Oceania experts, please let us know if you want to sail on this or any of Oceania's other ships.

A view of the pool area...this is what a brand new ship deck looks like!

The living room area of the Owner's Suite which spans the entire width of the ship...port to starboard. 
The entry area of the Owner's, seating area and player piano

The living room area of one of the other suites on the Riviera.

A view of the brand new Oceania Riviera before anyone boards her in Monte Carlo.

Mosaic artwork overlooking the pool area.

Fountain near the pool.

Oceania's logo on the ships funnel (smokestack)

The stern of the Riviera...the three Owner's suites span the width of the ship at the stern.  The full-width ship decks can be seen in this photo.

A view of the bow of the Oceania Riviera on the day she is christened.

The moment the champagne bottle breaks against the hull of Riviera.

The Riviera on the day of her christening.

The champagne bottle set in place prior to the christening event. owner at the christening event in Barcelona. 

l to r -- Leslie John, Oceania cruise director; Kunal Kamlani, president of Oceania Cruises; Captain of the Riviera; Frank del Rio, founder of Oceania Cruises; Cat Cora, RIviera's godmother.

Confetti flying just after the Riviera is christened by godmother Cat Cora;  Many of Riviera's crew members can be seen on the decks of the ship. 

Carl Dreizler, owner of with Oceania's President Kunal Kamlani.