Category Archives: Travel

Tampa/St. Petersburg (day 1)

Okay, I will start my trip review!

Chris and I decided to cruise the Carnival Legend out of Tampa, Florida on August 22.  The easiest and cheapest way to get to Tampa was to fly Southwest, and we decided to go a few days early to sightsee and visit our friend Ginny who lives in St. Petersburg.

We used priceline to rent a car and get a hotel near the airport.  We got in Thursday night and were exhausted, so we just checked in and ate a nice dinner at the hotel (Doubletree Westshore).

The next day we worked out in the hotel gym (gotta keep it up!), ate at the hotel restaurant (really nice breakfast buffet)and went over the bridge to St. Petersburg, about a 20 minute drive.  We drove to “The Pier” and ate lunch at the Columbia restaurant there, a cuban restaurant.  It was tasty, and the views were very nice.  We met up with my friend after that and she showed us around a few other places.  We then drove out to Madeira Island and ate dinner at a seafood restaurant by the water.  I had the she-crab soup, which I had heard of but never eaten.  I had assumed that it was made from female crabs, but evidently the “she-” is simply an abbreviation for sherry.  The soup was creamy and delicious!  We also had a couple of excellent pina coladas, wanting to get the week off to a delightful tropical start.

at the Pier

We rode the trolley from "the Pier" to our parked car
The rental car--a kia!
My friend's violin playing gnome
It was a hot and humid day, so pina coladas were in order.

Back in the USA!

What a fantastic vacation! We made it home safely this evening, and we are completely exhausted, but had such a wonderful time. I will try to do a recap of the week’s events in the upcoming posts, and include some pictures as well. Basically all my planning really paid off–the excursions I booked NOT through the ship worked out fantastically (thank you cruisecritic!) and I even got to eat iguana. I took over 500 photos, and need to go through them and pick out a few to share.

This week starts slow, but it starts tomorrow nonetheless. I have a meeting with my new parents and students at Good Shepherd Lutheran School and hope to meet a few more of the students. I’ve basically got my schedule worked out, I think, though no real progress was made while I was gone. I have quite a few emails to go through, though oddly no calls (unless my voicemail is acting up?). If you called me, please call again!

My running is behind schedule. I managed to do a lot of working out on vacation, but the treadmills on the cruise were really too hot to use for long (very much in the sun) and for a few days before the cruise I had managed to hurt my shoulder, so I’m a bit behind. I will just have to buckle down for the next five weeks.


I was thinking yesterday how lucky I am that I am able to go on a fun vacation every year.  Not everybody is able to get away for a week or two and do something different, and I am really appreciative that I can.  Sometimes I get a bit jealous of other people’s travels, but I am glad to be able to experience what I can.   It’s always good to put things in perspective in your mind, and be sure to appreciate what you have!

When I was a child, we traveled quite a bit in the summer as well–I have been to many of the 50 states and visited many National Parks, along with lots of SC and FL beaches.  I have many journals and scrapbooks from my childhood travels.  These days I blog instead of journaling 😉 and take pictures.

Additionally, I have friends and family who travel and bring me back nice souvenirs.  I was given a beautiful (yet a bit overwhelming!) blouse from China for my birthday.  I took a picture of it yesterday as I wanted to share this picture with the person who gave it to me.

I have been working hard the last week, both preparing for my upcoming cruise, and getting ready for the beginning of school.  I am gone until after school starts, which is fine as it’s nice for the kids to get accustomed to their new school schedule and then start violin lessons or classes.  It just means I will need to basically hit the ground running, or at least at a brisk jog.

I have mentioned my upcoming cruise several times in my blog.  Let me tell you more about the plans!  We are going out of Tampa on an “Exotic Western Caribbean” itinerary.  We will be visiting Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; and Isla Roatan, Honduras.  In the Caymans (where I have been before!) we are planning to do a jet ski excursion where we will jet ski around the island, visit “Stingray City” where we will be able to pick up stingrays and “pet” them, and probably hit up a beach as well.  We should also have time to get lunch where I really want to get some conch fritters.  In Cozumel we are going to a beautiful beach resort for the day and might also do parasailing!  Belize we are going to Xunantunich Mayan Ruins, and in Roatan we have a private island tour booked.  Roatan seems to be the least built up of all the ports (though Carnival just built a gigantic complex on the beach there) so I am particularly looking forward to it!  We have several “excursions” that I booked through private companies versus paying a premium for the ship tours.  I haven’t done this before, but I read many many reviews online of various activities and feel pretty secure in my choices.

While in Tampa we will be visiting a good friend from when I lived in Cleveland, and spending a few days there as well.  Several years ago Chris and I spent a week in St. Petersburg, Florida, and one of our favorite places was the Salvador Dali Museum.  I think we might go back there!  On that previous visit we also went to several Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now just the Rays) games and the Holocaust Museum.  The Rays are out of town, and while I remember the Holocaust Museum being very good, it was of course very sad and depressing.  We’ll also see what our friend recommends to do, as she now lives there year round.

We got a great deal on the cruise since we are going after school starts up (it seemed the rates dropped then).  I used priceline to get a hotel and a rental car, and felt good about those rates as well.  Can you tell how excited I am?

I hope to be able to continue my half marathon training while on vacation.  I will get a little behind on the long runs, I think, but should hopefully be able to run 4 or 5 miles every day or two.  I plan to eat as much as possible though 🙂

Back in town, for a bit

Okay, I’m back now. Two more weeks of summer teaching left, then cruise, then it’s back to school/fall schedule. I still feel at odds as I don’t have my schedule set, but I’m just going to have to try to relax because things are out of my control right now as far as that goes. I’m sure by the beginning of September I will know what days and approximate times I am working! (teeth gritted, palms sweating).

I had a great time visiting family in South Carolina, both in my hometown of Clinton, and also at Surfside Beach. I was able to just relax for a few days and read a few mystery novels instead of my usual education books 🙂

Vacation time approaches

This weekend was busy with weddings, as usual. Saturday was an incredibly hot day, but luckily we only had to play one hour outside towards the end of the day. It was exhausting being outside for even that hour due to the intense heat and humidity.

This week I only have one day of teaching and then I am off to South Carolina to visit my family and hit up Surfside Beach. I’m looking forward to it! I will particularly enjoy the weekend of NOT playing a wedding 😉 I haven’t driven from St. Louis to SC yet so I look forward to the drive. I used to drive everywhere but as I’ve gotten older I’ve been flying more. I decided to drive for this trip since I was also visiting my parents at home in Clinton in addition to the beach in addition to allowing more flexibility with dates.

I am still reading the Rewards book I mentioned earlier. Additionally I have put aside a couple of nice fiction books to read at the beach. Two more days, two more busy days.

Cruise planning

July is looking to be a super lazy month for me.  Today I spent two hours at the gym, and then the rest of the day at home.  I did SOME housekeeping, but primarily I have spent the past few hours researching for my upcoming (August) cruise to the “exotic western caribbean.”  I was just refreshing my memory on all the activities I originally wanted to do this summer, and so far have fallen painfully short.  Nonetheless it has been a nice summer so far, even though I will end up doing only two more trips.  One is the cruise and the other a family vacation in South Carolina (my home state).

I am making plans with another couple for a Cardinals game and still want to hit the science center and zoo, but the other things on my list might not be happening.  Several of them were June only events and I just ended up being too busy!  July is quickly becoming my lazy month, plus there are a couple of interesting movies (Eclipse and Inception) that I really want to see in the theater.  I have a lot of running and workouts ahead of me, and also want to try some yoga.  I have a coupon for a week of bikram yoga that I should use this month and another coupon (one is a Groupon, one is from Living Social) for five sessions of yoga from another place.  Yoga and violin seem to go really well together, from what people say and what I’ve read.  Perhaps I should consider practicing the violin as well.

My pottery “journey” is finished for now.  I ended up with a couple of nice, almost round bowls!  I don’t know what to do with all my stuff–I have 20 or so containers of various sizes.  I don’t really feel most of them are nice enough to give away, and the ones that are nice enough I want to keep for myself!

It looks like I will be teaching violin classes at two new schools in the fall.  I’m taking over from a colleague who seems to have done an excellent job and is super organized!  They are both private Lutheran schools, one in St. Peters and one in Collinsville.  I look forward to a new challenge, and I know that I will need to do a bit of preparation to be ready.  I am not as experienced in class settings as I am in private lessons, but I am always improving.  I also have been reading quite a bit about classroom management and various learning styles and all that good child education stuff that I didn’t get as a performance major.  It seems that each year of my adult life I take on a new challenge in my career, and this year is no exception.

I’d love to hear from any readers with advice on Violin class teaching or any advice on cruising!  This is my third cruise so I have the basics down, but any port advice or thoughts would be more than welcome.