I thought that on this dance cruise I would experiment with the structure of the Travelblogue with respect to the Sipping and Supping aspect of my posts. Instead of interspersing the food talk and pictures with my dance and travel experiences, I plan to keep a Culinary Sampling of the meals, mainly dinner, aboard the Queen Mary 2 on this trip.
Since my firm resolution on this trip was not to gain a pound, and to lose inches by virtue of all the hip and core work I would be doing during my Dance Boot Camp, my culinary choices obviously represent a somewhat slanted view of the range of dishes provided at each meal - my sample is appetizer rich and dessert poor. But here goes:
553 Church Street,
Ph: (416) 926-2501
After a really busy day with lots of walking around downtown Toronto, four of us met for dinner at Smith on Church Street. It is the sister restaurant to Wish that we had visited earlier.
With our meal, the four of us shared a bottle of the 2010 Geretto Delle Venizie Pinot Grigio.
I was intrigued by the Foie Bone item on the appetizer menu. It turned out to be a blend of the bone marrow with foie gras, replaced in the bone cavity and roasted. It was rich and delicious but really just enough to get an idea of the flavours.
3 Charles Street, Toronto, ON
Ph: (416) 935-0240
On our second day of rambling through Toronto downtown neighborhoods we headed north towards Yorkville. Again on a recommendation of a friend, we dropped in to Wish on Charles Street, to see if we could get lunch.
Although all the outdoor patio tables were taken we were comfortably seated at an indoor table right at the open door and joined the fresh air. All three of us wanted a light lunch but or definitions of light lunch differed somewhat.
356 College Street,
Ph: (416) 500-3852
On a short visit to Toronto, we had three days to explore three downtown neighborhoods. Our first choice was to walk down College Street and then walk around Kensington Market and Chinatown. Knowing that for me a rare treat is lox and a bagel, while my friend loves the Montreal-style smoked meat sandwich, Caplansky's Delicatessen was recommended to us.
36 Wellington Street,
Ph: (416) 504-9990.
It was a balmy evening in Toronto and we took a leisurely stroll down Yonge Street to Lucien. We were a little early for our reservation but I had just arrived in Toronto after an early morning flight from Vancouver, and was really hungry.
I was happy that we were seated immediately, and ready for my first glass of wine in a couple of weeks. While we were perusing the menu I sipped a glass of Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.
There are a number of specialty restaurants, cafes and a bistro on the Eclipse. The one I knew we just could not miss was Qsine. As it turned out, the time went by so fast we did not make it to dinner in either Murano or the Tuscan Grille though I heard glowing comments about the food from other diners. We did get to the Champagne Tea in Murano on the last afternoon of the cruise.
But I am glad we made a point of trying Qsine. The dinner at Qsine was definitely the most interesting and innovative dining that I have enjoyed in any specialty restaurants aboard during my recent cruising experiences. The variety of tastes and textures was simply fantastic and the novel way each dish was presented was exciting to see.
The Eclipse was only due to arrive in San Juan around 3 PM so that meant the morning was full of potential on-board activities. The time zone changed to Atlantic time, an hour ahead of Eastern Standard. I really intended to sleep a bit longer anyway, but no luck. We have had our sliding door onto to the verandah open each night so we get lots of fresh air so I wake to the sound of the sea. I took my laptop out onto my “office with a view” and caught up on writing till the coffee arrived at 7 am.
I am actually quite impressed with the wireless internet access on this ship compared to my experience on previous cruise ships. They must have some very powerful routers on board as the wireless access in really good even in the cabin and on the verandah. Hopefully on my next cruises coming up on the Sapphire Princess and the Queen Mary II, they will have improved the strength of their wireless signals too.
Sunday morning early - the first full day on board and I was so eager to find out about the Celebrity Life Activities that I woke up before sunrise. It was 6 am and the Eclipse was moving swiftly but smoothly on her way to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I was writing my travelblogue from the spacious balcony of our cabin, seated in a comfortable chair with a strong breeze whipping up my hair, and listening to the sound of the water rushing by against the hull of the ship. It seems that my internal clock wakes me at 6 regardless of the time zone.
We had ordered room service breakfast for later this morning – coffee for me, tea for Pat, and some fruit. As well I thought I would try out their plain yogurt. The tray arrived on time. The yogurt however was a no-fat variety and had that slimy texture that comes from thickeners. That’s why at home I love the thick Greek style yogurt that has no additives. Crossed this brand of yogurt off my list for the rest of this trip. But the sliced pineapple was sweet and delicious. And the coffee was hot.
Today was my first opportunity to check out the Celebrity Activity Lets Dance Program. The dancers who perform in the shows teach these lessons. The first one listed was a waltz lesson with Vitaliy and Anna. It was held in the stunning Sky Lounge at the front of the ship on deck 14. There is a medium sized circular dance floor there. It’s a marble floor – so not great for the legs but certainly a nice space. The problem is that it does not come with dance partners!
Maybe twenty-six people showed up for the lesson. I was curious to see what they would cover in the time allowed. They demonstrated a basic box and a turning box, a hesitation step forward and sideways, and a promenade step. At the end they played one waltz for people to practice what they had learned and I sat and watched. It was fascinating to see the difference in what people had picked up and how they moved in time to the music – or not.
Shortly after that the next class was scheduled in the Foyer on deck 3, which also has a marble floor. This class was cha cha cha with Philippe and Remy. About the same number of people crowded onto the floor.
Remy, who is English, said that they would be teaching International style cha cha cha and indeed they taught the basic step, the New York step and an underarm turn. I decided I could lead those steps so I partnered with Pat to practice.I am not a very good leader though as I have not developed that aspect of my dancing and in fact, my main objective these days is to be able to follow anyone on the dance floor easily.
Our concierge at the hotel arranged for Raul, a taxi driver with a fair command of English, to drive us around the island. We originally decided that a 5 hour excursion would be fine but as it turned out we added another hour at the end because the water at Playa Corona was so great.
We started going north on the coastal road and then turned east along the center road that runs east-west across the island. We turned off for six kilometers along a not-so-great road to San Gervasio, the best preserved Mayan ruins on Cozumel. There were six different cruise ships docked in Cozumel and on the road we were passed by people racing in jeeps along the dirt road. As we arrived at the ruins tour buses were also pulling up disgorging hordes of tourists. I guess next week we will be part of the hordes if we do any excursions off our cruise ship.
Compared to the magnificent Mayan ruins at Chetzen Itza the site here was smaller and far less well preserved. But we still took about 70 minutes to walk around the site.
The most important temple left there was dedicated to the Mayan Goddess Ixchel. According to the handout written by Ric Hajovsky, she was associated with the moon, sex, childbirth, disease, beekeeping, planting, water, writing, and weaving. Obviously a woman of many interests- actually rather like me – except for the disease and beekeeping – although as a retired doctor I suppose disease would have also been considered one of my interests. Hmmm...
This 7 day visit to Cozumel was not originally on my travel agenda for 2012. My travel plans for the first six months of the year were aimed more at making up for the year of ballroom dance that I had lost with my severe back pain that culminated in emergency spine surgery. So I had planned to start the New Year in the South Pacific taking a dance cruise on the Ocean Princess. Shortly after getting back from that, I had to head off to New York for an exciting family event - and the added bonus of a theatre and restaurant blitz.
But a chance call from the timeshare exchange that I use, offering a great priced cruise and resort deal, caught me in a reckless moment and before I knew it I was signed up for a 7 day stay at a resort in Cozumel, to be followed by a 7 night Caribbean cruise.
Although I have stayed in Cancun and several times in Playa del Carmen, I had never stayed on the island of Cozumel. The map shows the beaches of Cozumel as well as San Gervasio, the local Mayan ruins. The hotel we were booked into was located at Playa La Ceiba - and called El Cid La Ceiba Beach Hotel.