Monday, August 31, 2009

The 19 Year Old Cake

We exited the cruise ship back at Civitavecchia dock outside Rome at approx. 7:00am on Monday, July 27th. We took a cab to our airport hotel then took a train into Rome. We spent a good part of the day walking around Rome savoring our last hours there. We stumbled upon a great restaurant for lunch and had delicious food and a cheap bottle of wine that Joey picked out.

We departed Rome at 11:30am on Tuesday, July 28th and arrived back in Portland at noon. Gotta love a 9 hour time difference. If only we could get to Rome in a half hour. That would be awesome.

Anyway, we were home for almost exactly 22 hours and then Michael and I got back on a plane and headed to Los Angeles. For some reason I had my heart set on actually spending our anniversary at the Bel Air Hotel. The very spot where we spent our wedding night 20 years before.

The hotel is absolutely gorgeous, just as I had remembered it.

We walked out on our patio...
and enjoyed our welcome snack of iced tea and fruit plate

We hung out by the pool, which was right outside our room

and I thanked my newest favorite shoes one more time for hanging in with me on the miles and miles of walking we did in Europe
while Michael received Happy Anniversary wishes from his parents
Here I am showing off my new "anniversary bracelet" Michael purchased for me in Mykonos (remember the Murano glass beads I fell in love with)
We also enjoyed a ridiculously expensive yet gloriously delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant.
They prepared for us this special chocolate dessert which we had to take back to the room with us because we were so full even though we shared.

Oh yeah, why the blog title?
Well, a couple months before our anniversary, I decided to give our wedding cake bakery, Rosebud, a call. Their policy is... that you do not freeze the top layer of your wedding cake, you eat it on your wedding day along with the rest of the cake (because it tastes horrible after being frozen for a year). Instead, you come into the bakery on your 1st anniversary and they give you a new little 'top tier' cake to enjoy that is fresh and delicious. Well, on our first anniversary we were in Portland, not Los Angeles. We never went in for our little anniversary cake, but since we were going to be in town on our 20th wedding anniversary, I thought they might still honor their policy... and they were happy to do so.

The little cake was so pretty...

and the inside was exactly like the cake we picked out for our wedding: chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, chocolate ganache & chocolate chip filling.
We enjoyed it thoroughly and didn't even smear it in each others faces :).

Moving on with my life....

Yes, this is the last blog (by me, at least) to be posted from our summer trip to Rome & the Mediterranean. I know, I know... its all very sad, but nothing compared to the feeling when I was quarantined and alarms went off when I tried to exit the ship for our glorious day on the Amalfi Coast. Okay, Okay, I promise I won't bring it up again (wink wink).

Joey took most of these pictures. They got to go on a boat ride along the Amalfi Coast and then stop in the really cute town of Amalfi in the Salerno Province.

It appears as if everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

Below: St Andrews Church
Chocolate dipped citrus candy, a specialty of the area:
They also visited Pompeii where they learned about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD which buried everything alive, but left voids in the ash. They discovered that if they filled the voids with plaster they could make molds of exactly what things looked like beneath the volcanic destruction. There are molds of people, animals and other remnants of normal daily life.
They all had a really nice time, or so I hear...


In an earlier August post, I explained why I like cruises, so here are some pictures to go along with the reasons.

We had 10 days on this fantastic ship and one thing I realized when I started going through pictures is that I didn't take very many of the Celebrity Solstice. I actually had to borrow most of these from my brother, Chris and sister-in-law, Akiko.

The Solstice is a very large ship.

There were so many gorgeous sunsets to enjoy from our decks:
There were two formal nights although I only got to enjoy one of them. The pictures below were taken on our 3rd night on the ship and the 1st formal night--which also coincided with our day at sea sailing between Sicily and Athens.

The below picture is of the Sky Suite that Akiko, Chris, Joey and Sammy shared. Turn down service with chocolates. One thing they did not do on this ship that they have done on EVERY other ship we have been on is: NO TOWEL ANIMALS. What? Where were the towel monkeys, and elephants and dogs. I missed that.
Below is one of the pictures from my 'chocolate covered strawberries and baklava' photo shoot that I did on our deck after Mykonos. The strawberries were a regular perk of the suite and the baklava was purchased at a coffee shop in Mykonos town.

Two of our dinners on the ship were spent in the specialty dining restaurants. Below are a few pictures from our favorite: Murano.
Below is their famous Cheese Souffle appetizer.This picture of the flambe dessert at Murano is not one of my favorites, however, I included it because I just love Akiko's floral dress and scarf and I didn't get a better picture.
Another souffle specialty at Murano:
The rooms were spacious enough to be able to enjoy some relaxing down time just sitting on the deck, reading a book from the comfort of the bed or taking a nap.

This huge port hole window was a great aspect of the Sky Suite as this allowed a view from the room of the port side of the ship. The suite also had a great view of anything going on at the back of the ship from the large deck.

Grammy and Grampy's room was basically identical to ours however they had a view of the starboard side while we had a view of the back of the ship.
Below is a picture of me trying to document my crazy hair after a day at the beach. I wasn't very successful (probably should have taken it out of the pony tail), but you can see our room and my little desk where I am happily going through the pictures I took that day.
Chris and Akiko in one of the many lounges.

This is why I did not spend one minute in a swimming pool on "at sea days" on the Celebrity Solstice:

Below: Grampy and Chris on the 2nd "at sea" day enjoying a little poolside relaxation. It is very difficult to garner a deck chair on these days. You get there early and break the cardinal cruise ship rule by putting a towel and any reading material you can find on the chair as early as possible. Just come back whenever you like. It is written all over the ship that you are not supposed to do this, but EVERYONE does it. When I was quarantined to the ship, I went out to sit by the pool for a bit and guess what--even on a port day, at least 2/3 of the chairs were reserved for when people got back from their excursions.

A unique aspect of this particular line of Celebrity cruise ships is the lawn area. Chris, Akiko, Joey and Sammy took full advantage of the lawn bowling. I love these pictures Chris and Akiko took:

The below picture is my favorite. I think Chris should have blown it up and submitted it to the photo contest on the ship:

Another nice aspect of the suite: breakfast served by the butler on your balcony.

Below: The second formal night

Sammy, what a jokester....

Below: our dinner waiter and his assistant
(Alexandra and Sashko)
GRRRR.... when I see the below pictures it still makes me mad. Anyone that kept up with my Facebook updates knows that I got sick on our cruise. I started feeling bad the day we visited Santorini. Some stomach cramps, etc... by Saturday, a sea day, I was feeling worse with a fever and sore throat and the tell-tale signs of pneumonia. I have had pneumonia a few times before and it is debilitating, however, if I can get on an antibiotic right away, the symptoms are seriously diminished and it takes a lot less time to fight the thing. So, Michael talked me into going to the infirmary. BIG MISTAKE!!! Long story short, with this whole international swine flu thing going on, they have this "rule" that if you have "flu like symptoms" you have to be quarantined to the ship for 24 hours. Well, I did not have swine flu, but I did have pneumonia. They gave me the antibiotic. I thought the 24 hour quarantine was a "recommendation". Well, it isn't, its REQUIRED! I was feeling bad enough on Saturday that I stayed in all day and did not go to dinner even though it was formal night--or maybe because it was formal night. I went to sleep at about 6:00pm and slept for 12 hours straight. I got up refreshed on Sunday morning ready for our 9 hour tour of the Amalfi Coast. I was so excited. This was the last day of the cruise and a destination I was so looking forward to.

Unfortunately, when I tried to exit the cruise ship, alarms went off everywhere. I begged and pleaded with the infirmary staff to let me off--no luck. I held up the tour for way too long. People were getting angry. I was upset, but it was not fair for me to ruin the excursion for the rest of our family, so I went back to our room and cried tears of pure anger.

Below is a picture of my experience of Naples. A view from our deck. I never got off the ship that day. I missed a lot. I will be back.
I was so upset I went into frantic mode. It was our last day on the cruise ship, so this actually served me well. I packed everything. I was packed and ready to get off the ship by noon. Ha, we weren't leaving the ship until the next morning. As it turns out, and I do have to admit this, it was better that I stayed on the ship. My 15 minutes by the pool spiked my fever and sent me back to bed for a nap. The rest of the day I loaded pictures to my Facebook and drank plenty of liquids. I guess it was close to 100 degrees at Pompeii and even healthy people were feeling sick from the heat (or so they tell me, possibly to make me feel better?)
Well, when we left Naples, we had some great shots of Mt. Vesuvius
and even though I was still feeling very sick, we celebrated our 20th anniversary with a champagne toast.
I WILL return to the Amalfi Coast.
The pictures that I am about to load for my next post just make me want to do that even more. But hey, if Michael were with me right now he would be singing his favorite Stone's song that he has been singing to me for the past 25 years:

"You can't always get want you want... "

I have been proving that song wrong for 25 years.