Hello! I am so excited to share this post with you today! I just got back from a fantastic vacation to beautiful San Francisco. We spent 5 days there and never ran out of fun things to do. In fact, there are so many things to do there that I thought I would share the things we did and the lessons we learned so you won’t have to research and make the same mistakes we did. You’re welcome!:)
Here is a list is 20 things to do that are all amazingly fun. Most of them are free or very inexpensive which is also an A+! Pick and choose a few, or do them all. Whatever you choose, you are sure to have a GREAT TIME!!
Amtrak Coast Starlight Train
Walk across Golden Gate Bridge
Fort Point National Monument
Walking Tour (includes #7-12),
Cable Car Ride
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factoey
Boudin Sourdough Bread Factory
Giants Baseball Game
Haight and Ashbury Streets
Japanese Tea Gardens
Oakland Latter-day Saint Temple and Bridges
1. Amtrack Coast Starlight-
Instead of flying, if you have time and can take the train up or down the coast, I highly recommend it. We boarded at Union Station in Los Angeles. We relaxed and visited as we went up the coast. What a way to travel!
We didn’t get a sleeper car. It was an 11 hour ride and cost $80.00 per person. The seats were roomy and we could walk and move all over the train.
The push of a button opened the doors between the cars. The ground is extra shaky here! Watch that step!:)
There was a water station on the wall of our car. There was also a snack bar available for munchies. We weren’t completely happy with the food, so we called ahead for a pizza to be delivered to one of our stops along the way. Woo hoo! Hot gourmet pizza on the train! We felt so smart:)!
While we could see the pretty view from our seats, there was also a glass observation car that was available to everyone. Gorgeous!! I loved traveling on the train❤️
We arrived at Jack London Square in Oakland and hired an Uber to take us to a car rental company.
2. Muir Woods-
Muir Woods is a Redwood Forest National Monument. It is like walking in a Faerie Land. The trees are majestic and the greenery is soft and enchanting.
You don’t need hiking shoes, but a nice walking shoe is a good idea. The paths are flat and paved. There are hiking paths, but the walking trails were plenty for us.
The hardest part about Muir Woods is the parking. Unless you get there before 9:00am or earlier, don’t even plan on parking there. The lots fill up quickly and the parking lines on the side of the road literally can be MILES long!
Take the public transit shuttle. It is FREE with your receipt for entering the park:). How slick is that?! They drive you right to the front entrance and drive you back. Easy! Donahue and Pohono are the two pick up points. Check online for more info of times and directions.
3. Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge
Walking across the bridge is a “bucket list” must. It is 1.2 miles from edge to edge. The roaring sound of the traffic, the slight movement of the bridge, and the spectacular views make this a favorite activity. There is a walking and bike riding path on the edges making it very safe. This is a FREE adventure!
If you are with a group, it is a good idea to have a “designated driver” here.
Park on the North side of the bridge. (We did this right after Muir Woods and took the exit right before the bridge and parked in the parking area there)
Walk across. Have your designated driver only walk halfway and walk back. He or she can drive to the other side and park there to pick you up:)
The south side has the visitors center and lots of pretty photo taking places.
4. Fort Point National Monument–
Right below the Golden Gate Bridge on the South side is Fort Point National Monument. It is a good idea to combine this with walking over the Golden Gate Bridge.
This was an interesting Monument. I liked seeing the old canons and canon balls they used to defend the old city. We enjoyed exploring the little caverns and staircases.
If you can only do one thing in San Francisco, this is the must see attraction. It costs about $40.00 and you need to book your reservations in advance. You may need to book your reservations months and months in advance if you are going over a holiday.
The ferry ride over takes about 10 minutes. Once you are there, the National Parks Service gives you a headset with a WONDERFUL audio tour of the old prison. The voices and sounds of the prison make the place come to life. You can go at your own pace and linger, take pictures, and visit all you want. Don’t miss it!!
If you don’t like to walk, you can just check out the locations on that post and drive to the ones that interest you:). But, if you like walking and really seeing, and feeling the pulse of the city, definitely give this tour a try. It is about 5 miles long with A LOT of stairs!
13. Lombard Street-
Lombard Street is claimed as “the most crooked street in the world”. It is located on Presidio Blvd. and ends on the Embarcadero.
You can walk down the street, but I recommend driving. The walkers don’t get to enjoy the fun of the eight hairpin turns, and isn’t that what it’s all about? But if you are with a group, you may want to send one walker down a bit before you start the drive to get your picture 🙂
14. Fishermans Wharf-
There is a lot of shopping and fun hustle and bustle here. There are street entertainers and lots of good food. Yum! I recommend eating at the Boudin Bakery. They have the best sourdough bread in the city:)
15. The Boudin Bakery-
This is the place to get your clam chowder in a bread bowl. Believe me, we tried other places, and the bread was tough. The bread here, tastes like it was almost hot out of the oven! That’s probably because it was.
The factory is right there with a little museum and views of the actual Bakery below. The smell is amazing!
If you like fish tacos, they make their own sourdough tortillas. Amazing!! The fish and chips were fantastic as well. Give this place a try, you won’t be sorry:)
16. Ghirardelli Square-
If you like chocolate, and really, who doesn’t, this is the place for you! It is located just west of Fishermans Wharf on Beach Street. There are lots of shops in the square, but the best is of course Ghirardellis!
They don’t offer tours of the actual factory, but they have a demonstration in the back of the shop. The sundaes are so delicious and the give free chocolate samples to everyone who enters.
17. Giants Baseball Game –
If you are visiting the area during baseball season, be sure to pick up a game at the beautiful AT&T Park. They have tickets ranging from cheap to expensive. We spent $17.00 and were in the top tier. We could still see great though.
The food at the stadium wasn’t that good. We all wished we would have just tried the classic sausage hot dog offered in the hallway. Oh well, next time:)
I bought a hat outside of the stadium from a vendor for 10.00 and felt quite smart because my hubby bought his at Target for 17.00!
18. Haight and Ashbury Streets
Groovy! This area is recognized as the place where the hippie movement began. The shops are all eclectic and bright colored. Far out, man!
And of course, I would never let my fabric loving friends down by not finding a fabric store on my trips:) I went to Mendels fabric store on Haight Street. While most of the store was more of a craft store, there was a fabric section in the back. I think it geared more toward fur and fabric on rolls, but there was some cute cotton by the yard in the back.
19. Japanese Tea Gardens-
If you have never been to a tea garden before, you are in for a zen like treat. The oldest public Japanese Tea Garden in the United States is inside the Golden Gate Park located between John F. Kennedy Dr. and Martin Luther King Dr.
The quiet serenity is palpable here. The manicured hedges and soft bubbling fountains really do bring a feeling of peace and well being.
And, if you get here before 10:00am it is FREE! Even more serene for your pocketbook:)!
20. The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints Temple and Bridges –
Up on the hill on the Oakland side of the Bay, you will see the Latter-day Saint temple. It is a beautiful building with spectacular views of the city and Bay Area. It is especially stunning at night. There is a free visitors center there as well.
It is fun to take a drive over the Bay bridge to get to the temple. Enjoy the temple and views, and then complete the tour around the Bay by driving over the San Rafael Bridge and finishing with the Golden Gate Bridge.
There you have it. I hope this list is helpful to any of you who are thinking of taking a trip to San Francisco. Enjoy your trip!
It is easy to find a lot to do in San Francisco, but it is crazy hard finding a free self guided walking tour. But never fear, I have organized one for you that is totally fun, easy to follow, and is FREE! Yea:)!!
This tour is about 5 miles long with A LOT of steps. You will want to start in the morning around 10:00 or 11:00am so you can see everything. The tour includes the following:
The Ferry Building
Ride a Cable Car
See China Town
Eat a fresh fortune cookie
Rest by St. Peter and Paul church
Stairs to Coit Tower
The Filbert Stairs
Visit Pier 39
Doesn’t that sound fun? So, if you are ready, put on a nice pair of walking shoes and let’s get started!
1. The Ferry Building–
Let’s start at the Historic Ferry Building and Market. The Ferry Building is at Pier 1 on the Embarcadero. You can park nearby or take the BART and exit at the Embarcadero stop.
If you take the BART, come up to the street and look North. You will see the Ferry Building. Walk over to it and go inside.
The building was built in 1898. It now has a market place inside with lots of vendors and good food.
I recommend getting an ice cream cone at Humphrey Slocombe. It is ranked one of the top 5 ice creams in America! The “Secret Breakfast” is wonderful❤️. Yum!!
Shop around for a while and then head outside the front exit. Be sure to check out the views of the Bay Bridge while you are here. If the walking Pier is open, that is right next to the Ferry Building, you might want to walk to the end and take a picture or two.
2. Ride a Cable Car–
Head back up Market Street to the Cable Car station pick up. It is located right next to the Hyatt Hotel.
Hop on board and enjoy the ride. The conductor will collect your fare. It costs about $7.00 a person. You can sit or stand as you move along.
Get off at Grant Ave. You will be in China Town.
3. China Town –
China Town is so pretty with all of its red hanging lanterns. Walk down the street and check out some of the trinket shops. Everything is so inexpensive here. It is a good place to buy your souvenirs.
4. Golden Gate Cookie Factory–
A trip to China Town would not be complete without a fresh Chinese fortune cookie.
Walk down Grant Ave and turn left on Washington Street. There will be a small alley way on the right called Ross Alley. Head down the alley and near the end, on your right, will be the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.
Go inside and watch how they make fortune cookies. You can buy a bag of cookies to share with your friends back home. They also give free samples:)
When you are finished head out of the alley to Jackson Street and turn left.
5. Washington Square / Saint Peter and Paul Church–
Walk down Jackson Street and turn right on Stockton Street. Follow Stockton Street all the way to Washington Square. You will pass by a lot of good Italian food restaurants. You may want to grab a bite to eat here.
Don’t get confused at the three way crossing at Columbus Ave. and Green Street. Just keep going on Stockton Street. You will run right into Washington Square.
Take a moment to rest and enjoy the view. The church is so pretty.
6. Stairs to Coit Tower-
Take a deep breath and get ready for a real workout. Walk right, up Filbert Street, to the Stairs to the Tower.
This is a steep climb with a lot of stairs. So take your time and take breaks when you need them. Enjoy the views of the Transamerica Pyramid as you go.
7. Coit Tower–
When you finally reach Coit Tower, you will want to stop and take a breath or two. The views here are spectacular.
There is a free art gallery inside the tower filled with depression era art that celebrates the worker of American industry.
You can pay to go to the top of the tower if you would like. The tower closes at 6:00 p.m. So plan your walk accordingly.
8. The Filbert Stairs –
Exit the tower and head back along the road using the walking path that is divided from the road by a rock wall. Walk to the end of the rock wall toward the steps you came up earlier. Turn left instead of right.
You will see a blue fire hydrant next to a staircase walking path. These are called the Filbert steps. There are 400 steps here!
The residents have built beautiful homes and planted lovely gardens. It is hard to believe people actually live here and have to walk these stairs everyday!
Turn around and take a look at what you just walked down! Give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it! Keep walking for a short bit then turn left at Sansome Street.
9. Pier 39 –
Follow Sansome all the way to the Embarcadero. Cross the street and turn left. Walk to Pier 39.
We are at our final stop, but what a place to stop! There are so many things to see and do here that you can stay for quite a while. There is a carousel in the back, vast amounts of shopping, and the food options are numerous. From hot dogs to crab they are all here.
Be sure to walk around the outside of the pier. The views are beautiful, but the most unique part of the pier is the sea lions. There are hundreds of them here that like to rest and bask in the sun!
When you are finished at the Pier, catch the Embarcadero street car that is in the middle of the street. It will take you back to your car or to the BART by the Ferry Building .
I hope you have enjoyed your walking tour. San Francisco is such a fun place to visit. If you want more ideas of things to see and do, check out my list of 20 Things to Do in San Francisco.
I hope you have a GREAT trip and would love to hear about your walking tour:)!
I was looking through my old paintings, and came across this happy flag that I painted a few years back. It made me smile:).
For all of my Stateside friends, I wish you all a happy holiday! Are you planning anything fun? I am excited to head up to a cabin for a few days of cooler weather. Temperatures here in Arizona have been hot hot hot with the gage about 105 every day and sometimes more! I can’t wait for the monsoons:)!
I had the best week last week:). I was able to spend some time cruising with my son and daughter in law in celebration of their graduations. Yea!
Our ship left from Galveston, TX. I like road trips, so we left a couple days early and drove there. We stopped at the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch along the way. It was majorly beautiful!
They even have the small jet they call Airforce Half that he used to travel in! It’s not very big inside.
We wish we had more time to spend there. If you ever get an opportunity to go here, definitely plan a full morning or afternoon.
The actual cruise was so fun:). We went to Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. Each place was simply beautiful. We went on the Royal Caribbean Liberty Ship.
Here is what we did, just in case you ever decide to go and need some ideas of what there is to do:
Be sure to go to Diamonds International at all of the ports. There are one or two or three at each of them, If you go up to any worker and say you would like a charm, they will give you one and a free bracelet! Each store has a different charm. It is a fun treasure hunt:)
Roatan, Honduras– We went to West Bay and hired a boat to take us to see dolphins, starfish, and snorkeling on the coral reef,
Dolphins— definitely pass on this unless you pay to get in and actually swim with them. Our boat just puttered around the outside. –lame:(
Starfish— also a bomb. Don’t waste your time here. There is just a bunch of sea grass and sand. No, no , no!
Coral Reef–Snorkeling. Oh my, oh my, Yes! Yes! I have been diving in many many places and the clarity of water, the formation of coral, the colors and closeness to the top of the water is spectacular. All you need here is just a snorkel and fins and the beautiful Roatan water. This is GREAT!!:)
Belize— We prearranged a tour with Major Tom who was the originator of cave tubing and many other tourism sites in Belize. I highly recommend contacting him online and having him organize your shore excursions. He makes things happen and is so nice!
We went cave tubing and visited the Mayan ruins.
Cave Tubing– I absolutely love, LOVE this excursion. We hiked for about 25-30min through the beautiful jungle. We bought a coconut to drink on the way, but we wish we would not have. It was awkward to carry the coconut, the tube, and hike. It was definitely not necessary. — The cave was AMAZING with brief moments of illuminating jungle views shining through the darkness. BEAUTIFUL!!
Altun-Ha Mayan Ruins— The ruins are on the opposite side of the city from the caves. It is a long, windy, bumpy ride, but so so worth it. Major Tom bought us a delicious lunch of chicken and rice to eat in the van along the way. Yum! Although, a white tee shirt, greasy chicken, and a bumpy road don’t make the best of combinations, lol:). — The first view of the ruins is somewhat spirtual. They are large and grand. We had a wonderful time here. We were able to climb to the top of the largest ruin. It was spectacular!
There is a lot of very good shopping right off of the ship. The prices were better here than out of the port area.
The main thing to do here is dive and snorkel. I have been here numerous times and have yet to find that great dive spot. I know they must be there because I have heard others talk about them. I just haven’t found them. Next time I go, I am going to rent a 4wheeler and go to the other side of the island and go to the Chakunaab area. I hear there is great water over there…..if you go there, let me know. Plus, the drive should be fun:)
We walked the Main Street and found a cozy little tide pool area to explore. It was relaxing, beautiful, and free! There is something to be said for that right?
Activities on the Ship– The Liberty of the Sea is not Royal Caribbean’s largest boat but it isn’t the smallest either. It is like a floating city with over 4,000 people aboard! I like the openness of the ship. It doesn’t feel tight or claustrophobic.
There are so many things to do on this ship.
Rock climbing is always a fun thing to do on the ocean!
How about knee boarding on the waves?
And I had to use my cake decorating skills at the cupcake decorating class:)!
There is also golf, multiple huge slides, kids water park, ice skating, pools, entertainment, and lots and lots of food! I must say though, I much prefer Carnival cruise line food. The dinner food was excellent, but the lunch selection here is all cafeteria style, and very much the same every day. So if food is your thing, go Carnival. But the Royal boat itself is much better:)
And of course, any road trip or cruise would not be complete without some crochet or hand work:)! I brought along white yarn to crochet up a baby blessing afghan for my new grandson:)
I’m not using a pattern here. It is just alternating rows of 1 dc in each stitch – row 2 skip two sc, 3dc in next st. Looking good!
We had a fantastic time. I just love spending time with my dear, SWEET family. Now I am home and starting that diet!!!
I am one of those moms who enjoys being with my kids so much that I will go on two spring breaks just because two kids have different spring break schedules. Can’t they all just coordinate their schedules? The bad thing about these spring breaks is that they both go to ASU. One is in law school and the other is an undergraduate. And they STILL have different spring breaks! Ugh!
Oh well, more driving time to crochet on baby blankets:)!This blanket is taking quite a bit longer than I anticipated. I didn’t remember the double ended crochet stitch going so slowly, but it does. And I have another one to do…
Oh well, it is worth it. The blanket has lots of texture and lots of little holes for fingers and toes. I love how it is different colors on the front and back. The instructions for this stitch are here if you want them.
The drive through the spring desert was so beautiful. The flowers were purple, yellow, and orange. I just love road trips. I especially love springtime in the desert road trips:)!
Last week we did Disneyland. This week we spent a few days in Las Vegas. We do Vegas different than probably most everyone. I did not spend one penny at the casinos. Not one! But we did enjoy a few shows. We went to the Blue Man group and the Cirque-Ka
We loved the shows, but especially liked our hikes in Red Rocks Canyon just outside of Las Vegas. It was beyond beautiful!
We did two small hikes. One in the Red Rocks area and one to Willow Springs. Both were easy, short hikes that everyone could enjoy.
Those red sand stone rocks were beautiful!! We even spotted a caterpillar nest! I wonder what kind of moth or butterfly they will be?
The hike to the waterfall was shady and cool. It was only about 1.5 miles of fairly easy trail.
And lastly we spent some time at the Las Vegas Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Temple.
We had a super SWEET trip, but I am definitely ready to stay home for a while!
The happiest place on earth wouldn’t be that happy if there wasn’t happy, delicious food to enjoy in the parks. Any of you who have followed my blog at all know that I am a major foodie.
It is spring break at ASU, and at our house that means Disneyland. Yea!! A few years ago we started the hidden Mickey search that a friend told us about — so fun! We enjoyed the “searching and finding” so much that I thought it would be fun to go on a Disney Dining Food Quest this time.
Sooo…I researched online and made my “Disney Dining Bucket List”. SWEET!! I had no idea my list would be so long! I started with the foods that we always eat as our 5 Mickey Ear 🐭must haves, and based on others raving reviews, added many, many more mouth watering delicacies.
To qualify for the list, the food item had to be mentioned in at least three different online or word of mouth sources. My “Mickey Ear” 🐭rating is based on the very scientific rating of my family as we came to an agreement on the “Do Not Miss This” factor of the taste test. 5 ears is a Disneyland repeater!
Let’s face it, I couldn’t possibly eat all of this food by myself! So I bought one item and we split it four ways.
Soooo…after all of this introduction, here are the reviews followed by the complete bucket list in case your family wants to go on a quest of your own. This list may, and probably will, grow with our future visits:). These are not in any specific order except in the order of the time we saw them and ate them….
3.5 🐭🐭🐭–Oreo Churro at the California Churro Company @Downtown Disney
This churro looks and sounds like it should be the churro to end all churros. When I read all of the rave reviews I immediately put it on the bucket list, but I’m sorry to report that it tasted more like a cake doughnut and the filling was overpowered by the chocolate flavor. I will be just as happy if not happier with an ordinary churro inside the park. BUT they do have an ice cream sandwich churro that I will be trying next time that sounds promising:)!
5🐭🐭🐭🐭🐭- Lobster Nachos and Tri-tip Sliders at the Cove Barin California Adventure by Ariel’s Grotto
Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT miss these!! Wow! That just sums it up. We stopped here for a light lunch. There were four of us. We ordered one order of nachos and two plates of sliders. It was perfect! We halved all of the sliders and shared the nachos. Perfect! By unanimous vote, this will be a part of every trip to Disney from now on:)
5🐭🐭🐭🐭🐭- Hand Dipped Corndogs at the Little Red Wagonin Disneyland at the end of Main Street
This one took us all by surprise. I am not a huge fan of corn dogs, but hold the phone…! These corn dogs take it to a whole new level! We bought two and split them for dinner, but we could have each eaten a whole one. They are big, but so so yummy. That breading, wow! It was soft, thick, and just a little sweet. I will be adding this to my annual trip. Yumm!!
4🐭🐭🐭🐭 – Bacon Wrapped Asparagus at the Bengal Cafe in Disneyland by Indiana Jones
These little morsels are just that. Little. They taste good. I mean ..bacon, hello! But the portion size felt way too small. It was good, but I think I will try to make my own at home. I will make a lot of them:)
5🐭🐭🐭🐭🐭- Matterhorn Macaroon at the Jolly Holiday Bakery in Disneyland at the end of Main Street
This Macaroon is absolutely beautiful. It seems almost too pretty to eat. My daughter and I shared one. At first we thought it was good, but….after the second, and third bites we knew that we would be having another. In fact, it is the only treat we ate that we really wanted to go back and buy another! Love, love, love it❤❤. I am on the hunt for a copycat recipe now…..
5🐭🐭🐭🐭🐭- Monte Cristo Sandwich and Pomme Fries at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland behind Pirates down the walkway
It is a good idea to make a reservation at this restaurant. It’s not always needed, but it sure makes it easier to get in. We ate here last year and being a 5 ear restaurant , we of course had to eat here again!
The Pomme Fries and sauce are to..die..for! We ordered two baskets for 4 people, but one would have been plenty. Our waiter brought us extra dipping sauce. Yummy!
But the gem of the menu is the Monte Cristo sandwich. It is a French toast sandwich that is stuffed with ham and cheese. It is dipped in a batter and deep fried to achieve a beautiful crunchy crust. It is dusted with powdered sugar and served with raspberry jam. Really?!!
One order has four large halves of sandwich. You really want to share one plate. Unless of course, you want to be uncomfortably full the rest of the day:)!
4🐭🐭🐭🐭- Soft Serve Ice Cream Cone at Paradise Pier in California Adventure
Now don’t get me wrong, this is a very good ice cream cone. If you are into soft serve ice cream, this is really the best there is. But I have tried the Dreyers hard pack ice cream at Clarabelles by Soarin’ and like it much much better. My grandson may not agree though:). He loved it!!
—We had a super fun Dining Adventure Quest at Disneyland this week. Here is our complete Disney Dining Bucket List if you are interested in starting your own quest.
Hand dipped Corn Dog @ The Little Red Wagon
Green Chili Cheeseburger w/an egg @the Carnation Cafe
Lobster Nachos & Tri-tip sliders @ Ariels Cove bar
Chocolate dipped cone@the cone motel
Brioche French Toast @ Flos V8
Apple cheddar pie @ Flos V8
Fields cookie bit or Sea salt caramel sundae @Ghirardellis
Chili lime corn on the cob on the Boardwalk
House Biscuits @Carthay Circle
Jalapeño cream cheese pretzel @a cart
Churro Ice cream Sandwich @California Churro Cart
Chicken and waffles @Jazz Kitchen
Shrimp & Grits @Jazz Kitchen
Carnitas Nachos @White water Snacks in Grand CA Hotel
There it is! I have done all of the research for you! Have I missed any of your favorites? If you are headed to Disneyland, I hope you will give some of these a try and let me know if they are 5 ears or not.
Until then, I hope you are thinking wonderful, happy little thoughts….:)!
One of my favorite things about crochet is that is easy to throw a project in a bag and take it along wherever you may go. I have taken projects to waiting rooms, kids volleyball tournaments, long road trips, and most recently around the world to Greece and Israel. Some people say that they are dancing through life. – I am crocheting and quilting through mine!I decided that this trip would be the perfect time to start my Peacock Bag from lilabjorncrochet. It made the plane ride over to Athens literally just fly by! Lol:)
It was an especially fun moment when as I was crocheting along, Tasiana shared a postcard picture of her trip to Greece right in the CAL!! Yea!! I was so excited:)! I had definitely brought the right project for this trip:)
I was very pleased with my new thread cutter fob. I bought it on amazon and put it on a long silver chain. I wore it as a pretty necklace and walked right through the airport screening with no problems at all. I loved that when I needed to clip my threads, this handy cutter was right there, waiting around my neck. It was great! (Isn’t it funny that I am holding the fob as if it is the yarn? I’m definitely a crocheter!) It was somewhat surreal to sit out on the balcony of the ship and stitch away with these beautifully matching, ocean toned threads. I was in crochet heaven to be sure. I even brought it along on our day of snorkeling and relaxing at the Beach in Mykonos.
I was able to finish both the front and the back of my bag up to the joining section on my trip. I want to add a few beads to my bag, so I decided to stop and wait to complete this beauty at home. But of course, I had brought my camel hair yarn just in case this situation poked its head out.
I started a lace shawl that I will definitely give more post attention to in the next few days. But I was glad I had the extra project to work on while flying home. My stewardess just was amazed at it and wanted to buy it right there!But no sale! This shawl will be a gift for one of my daughters. Maybe I will make several if it turns out as pretty as I think it will:)
As you can see, I literally crocheted myself around the world and back. I had a wonderful trip filled with SWEET memories. Some of those memories are of my time with the needle and thread.
Oh my, oh my, oh my!! I have just had the best trip of my life! It was AMAZING!!:)!! I have enjoyed seeing exotic places, eating spectacular food, and falling in love with my fabulous husband once again.
There is so much to talk about that I will divide it into two posts. Since we traveled without large organized tours and big buses, I will be sharing the things that were a success, and also those things that I wish I would have known about the countries and islands that we visited. I hope that this will help any of you who are free spirit travelers and may want take a trip to Israel or Greece one day. (If anything, it will help me to remember, lol!)
The second will be about the Oceania Riviera ship itself. I know That I was so excited and wanted to know more about the ship, so I will try to give a quick review and overview to help get others excited about their cruise:)
So…. If you are still interested, here we go:)!
The airport is on the other side of Athens about 1 hour away from the port.
DO NOT rent a car or try to use the bus system. Traffic is CRAZY!!!!
Oceania does not offer a free shuttle. It is 89EU each way per person. Others on our flight took the shuttle and had to wait five hours at the terminal without ever seeing the Parthenon!
Have a ride planned and waiting for you at the airport or terminal– We used Diamant Minibus–. Viscilli, our driver, was waiting for us with a sign as we exited the airport. He gave us a FANTASTIC 4 hour private tour of the city. We saw the Parthenon, The original Olympic Stadium, views of the city and more. He even bought us an authentic Athens lunch! All for 200US total. What a deal!!:). I wish our friends would have come and then we could have split the cost:)
The Island of Patmos-–
This is the island where John the Revelator was banished and where he wrote the Book of Revelations.
There isn’t a whole lot to do here. There were taxis available to take us to the two sites. We made some fun friends on the tender ferry who shared the taxi fare making it 20EU. Others on the tender walked, but it was a steep 2 hour hike. It can be done, but I was glad we hired the taxi.
St. John’s cave was interesting, short, and free. It is the must see attraction on the island.
The other attraction is the monastery at the top of the hill. It is also free and has lots of great views.
There is not a lot of shopping or dining here. Save your money and buy your souvenirs later.
Israel-(this is my longest section)
Oh, I learned a lot here! We docked in Haifa for two days.
Plan and prepare a taxi and tour guide BEFORE you arrive! I recommend Nidal from Palestine. Here is his Facebook page. You can contact him and he will help you line everything up. He speaks perfect English. — We did not have a tour guide or taxi prepared ahead of time. When we got off the ship, we expected to see taxis and shops waiting for our business. This is what we saw:Nothing! We were sick!!! Really, EVERYONE on the boat had taken a tour on a big bus and we were left alone to find a way to get to Jerusalem two hours away! We asked around and found our way to the taxi station. Luckily, they had a wonderful, friendly, Arab driver that hardly spoke any English. He really was kind and sweet though. But, not cheap. They held the upper hand for sure. –We hired him for two days for about 800EU. That was about what everyone else paid for their very crowded bus tours. Ours was still a bargain if you consider we had a private tour that didn’t spend a lot of time stopping for bathroom breaks. He drove us to Nidel in Bethlehem who stayed with us the rest of the day. So– to make this long story short, arrange for your taxi and tour guide BEFORE you get to Israel!
Wear long pants, a modest shirt, and bring a hat for shade and reverence at Jewish places of worship.
We went to Bethlehem, The Mt of Olives, Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Wailing Wall, The View of the City, the Garden Tomb, and The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints Jerusalem Center. All of these sites are fairly close together, besides Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is in Palestine. Who knew? You have to have a special guide or taxi driver to drive into the country.
The Mt of Olives has 3000 year old trees and overlooks the city.
DO NOT MISS Via Dolorosa!!! It was a surprise to me. It is the street they say that Jesus carried the cross to Calvary. They say Caiaphus’ Palace was here as well. It felt the most authentic to how I imagined it might have been. I was glad I was with my taxi driver and tour guide. I think I would have been intimidated by all of the Arabs and commotion.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is at the end of the Via Dolorosa. Many Catholic faiths believe Jesus was buried here. It was interesting to see so many Christian sects share the same building.
The City Gate and Wailing Wall is a must see. You are divided to enter. Men in one line, women in another. I thought the wall, which is the actual remains of Solomon’s Temple, was only for men, but it is also divided men on the left, women on the right. You need your hat here.
I am a member of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints or “Mormon”. I was most excited to see the Garden Tomb and the Jerusalem Center.
If you are LDS, here is what you must know: the Jerusalem Center is CLOSED on Sunday and Monday! And the Garden Tomb is CLOSED on Sunday!!! Our ship was only there on Sunday and Monday. We knew the Center would be closed, but we were bummed when we found out the Garden Tomb was closed. We could only look over the fence. Bummer! So if you can, plan your trip Tuesday-Friday. Friday would be best. Everyone says the preparations for Jewish Sabbath are something to be seen.
In the Northern part of Israel is where Galilee is. I would liken Galilee and Judea to counties in the United States, Nazareth and Jerusalem to cities within the counties.
It was fun to see the biblical cities of Nazareth, Cana, Tiberius, Magdala, and Capernaum. Crazy! Here are the things I learned:
The Sea of Galilee is a lake, and not a very big one. You can see from side to side and end to end very easily. It is fresh water. I didn’t know! I guess I always pictured a huge lake or ocean edge.
Capernaum is destroyed. There are ruins of an ancient synagogue and the Capernaum homes that date back to Jesus’ time. They are right on the edge of the lake or Sea of Galilee. Why have I never heard of this before?! I bet Jesus was in this very church!
The Mt of Beatitudes is just as I pictured it. It is very quiet and right up the hill from Capernaum.
The River Jordan isn’t very wide and it kind of glows like the water at Havasu in the Grand Canyon.
Many people bought baptismal clothes and were getting re-baptized.
There are also small fish in the water that nibble your feet!
And really, I can’t leave a place without trying the local food. Our driver was so excited about falafel and kanafa.
Falafel is a chick pea ball that they put in a pita with some fries and sauce. Yum!
The kanafa is a sweet cheese that didn’t look appetizing, but was very good:). It is a mozzarella type cheese covered with shredded philo dough, drizzled with sweet syrup, and sprinkled with nuts. Our driver took us to two shops for this. He said that this is the big deal treat in the country!
We had a great time in Israel. I felt very safe and was happy that I was not on a big tour bus. We could wander and do whatever we wanted to do. In fact the driver stopped and let us take a small walk in the hills on the way to the Sea of Galilee. He even helped me find a yarn store so I could buy some Israeli wool:) I’m not crazy about the quality of yarn, but hey, it is my Israel souvenir.
Now, back to the Greek Islands–
If you are a “foodie” like us, this is the stop. The taxi was cheap. Our driver was confused that we didn’t want to do the normal touristy stuff. But I think we made a believer of him by the end of the day:)
Go to the Carob factory. It is nestled in the most beautiful little village with colorful boganvilla hanging over the walls. Carob is a pod that grows on a Carob tree that makes a syrup similar to chocolate.
We went to the Oleastro Olive Park. It is a little “cheesy”. You can buy olive oil there. But don’t buy too much . I found fancier oil cheaper on Santorini.
On the way we saw an old monastery and had the driver stop. We walked around and took pictures. The driver said he was going to recommend this as an optional tour for others who want to see the real Greek lifestyle in Cypress
By far the best local dining experience was here in Cypress. Our driver took us to a local restaurant, ordered what seemed to be everything on the menu and filled our table with the most delicious Greek food:). All three of us ate with plenty of left overs for only 20EU! The cook kept coming out with another plate and asking us how we liked it. We LOVED it!!
Snorkeling at this rocky get away was nice, but they did not have snorkels to rent. Our driver took us to a shop to buy some. I don’t remember the name of the cove. It was nice though. I liked being on the rocks
So, if you plan on snorkeling on your visit to the isles, I recommend bringing your snorkel and mask in your suit case.
This is a very modern city with a very modern shopping district close to the ports.
Do not hire a taxi here. It is a very easy, and pretty walk to the shopping district. There is a map along the road that shows you where to go.
Here is the place to buy yarn. (You knew I would get to this, right? Lol!). I reasearched for hours online before I left and had the hardest time getting a good idea of shops for natural yarns. We were walking the outdoor shopping mall, and there it was…pure yarn heaven! I bought 5 skeins of Kangaroo brand wool for 3EU a piece. What?!! I wish I had A bigger suitcase:)!!!
Oh Santorini, I love you!! This was my favorite island. It was so beautiful and had so much to do. Really, I could point my camera anywhere and have a postcard worthy picture.There is so much to do here, and everything is fun, beautiful, and reasonably priced. You can’t go wrong. Here is what we did:
Ride a donkey up the mountain and walk back down. It was only 5EU and the donkey or better said, mule, took me up the 750 stairs to the city. He only tried to ride me into the wall twice. Lol!
Wear good walking shoes.
This is the island to rent 4 wheelers. It was cheaper to rent a 4 wheeler than hire a taxi to get to the town of Oia on the other side of the island, and really- if you can choose between the two, 4wheeler every time!There were lots of little side roads to go exploring on. It was so much fun!
The views in Oia were amazing. It was way worth the drive. But the dining there was very very expensive. Skip it if you can.
There was a dive shop here. We wish we would have known, or at least brought our snorkeling stuff. The water was so clear, we just wanted to jump in!
Santorini is a great place to shop for souvenirs. There is a wide selection of shops with very good prices. I loved the oil and vinegar shop at the old part of the islandYou just can’t go wrong in Santorini. It is wonderful!
This was our final stop. We went with our new found friends to Paradise beach. For a day of snorkeling and relaxation. This is what I did!-yea!
The Tropicana resort had a shuttle service near the port, but you have to ask around to find it.
The snorkeling here was the best. The ocean floor is cracked and there are lots of colorful little fish and crab to look at. You can also dive here.
Back in town, have fun exploring the quaint streets and shops. I especially liked the bakery we discovered in the basement of a building. We bought fresh cookies and baklava. Yum!
This was an absolutely wonderful cruise. The places were phenomenal, but being with my super wonderful husband and our new found friends made it the SWEETEST of trips:)
Thank you for stopping by. I hope I have given you a little taste of the Mediterranean.
The day has finally come! We leave tonight to start our 30th anniversary cruise:). Yea! Yea! We will be traveling to the Jewels of the Aegean on the Oceania Riviera. Well, that really means we’re going to Greece and Israel!! Can you tell that I am excited?
Oceania has been so nice to work with so far. They sent us a very nice itinerary booklet with our names printed on it. It is very customized to us. We feel pampered already!
This is a 5 1/2 star ship that is geared to food lovers like myself. I really am a foodie so I am excited to see what makes this ship known for its dining.
I of course am gathering my travel projects. I would never let 19 hours on a plane go without some handwork. You get me, right? We crocheter/quilters are a keep your hands busy breed!
I figure that now is the time to start (and hopefully catch up) on my peacock bag. Aren’t the colors pretty? They are the originals from the CAL. I love my little starfish stitch markers. They match so well!
I ordered this beautiful yarn cutter to wear as a necklace in the plane. I didn’t even know they made these until one of you fantastic bloggers blogged about it. I wish I could remember who, but I can’t so to all of you, Thx!
I also ordered this fantastic camel hair yarn with thoughts of the Middle East.
It is really soft and pretty, but still kind of smells like a camel, lol:)! I wound these hanks up into two lovely cakes of yarn that I am also going to bring just in case I finish the peacock bag. It doesn’t look that hard…..
I plan on buying Israeli and Greek yarn and fabric to bring home as my souvenirs. Won’t that be fun?