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Off on the Epic, the Dancing King

Okay, the Epic titles and making reference to epic things may be getting old at this point but trust me there will be more and they will be epically cliche. Upon boarding the ship, it was luck time so I headed to the buffet like usual and sampled a bit of everything. Apparently, from the buffet on the first two days of a trip makes up about half of all food waste for the entire week long voyage.

The food was pretty good. Nothing outstanding from most buffets in most ships and restaurants. I was also disappointed that Washie-Washie was not as happy-happy as my last trip. This may seem like complaining, but it is not. The Norwegian Epic is very good, and far superior to not traveling in the first place.

After lunch, I grabbed a drink and explored around the ship until it was time to meet up with the Solo Coordinator at the meetup in the solo lounge. The solo lounge on the Epic was really good and better than the Getaway. It had an espresso machine and was amazing coffee. From this meeting, I went to dinner and then called it a night.

The next day I did a lot of relaxing, and whiskey and rum sampling. After dinner I went to the whiskey bar for a Jack Daniels tasting but was convinced by the bartender that a hour later the Scottish Macallan tasting was more worth the money and had a better quality pairing. So I decided to stay at the bar and socialize for the hour.

The tasting was an incredible experience to learn more about the whiskey notes. (Despite being a certified Jameson Irish Whisky taster) Most people at the tasting and the head bartender seemed to be making flavours up. Anyway after the tasting, we were told of a Martini tasting. This seemed like a great idea.

At the tasting there was 3 gin based and 3 vodka based martinis to taste. The younger woman sitting across from me with her mother was not enjoying at all the non-fruity and classic martinis. From the collection the one that stood out was the Cucumber Martini. It became my friend many times that voyage. The only downside was it was hard to walk around the ship with a martini glass. The glass is just not the best at countering let’s blame it on the ocean swells.

Then it was time for dinner. It was good even if it wasn’t memorable. After dinner was spent between the martini and whiskey bar. Followed by the highlight of the night. The dancing king and queen competition at the Bliss night club. To be honest, with my bad ankle dancing is not the best idea, but there were so few people dancing that I started off the dancing and then sat for a drink. Then come competition time I was dancing back up to the bar and was spotted and selected as the dancing king! From this I won a bottle of wine. Since I had the drink package, I spotted a couple in the back corner on a date night and gave away the bottle.

I then called it a night and went to bed.

The next morning was not the greatest as it was about 11am before I emerged and it was a window that finding food on the ship was hard. I went to the mini-buffet and found a quite place on deck 18 to catch some sun. Which left me burnt for the week. The rest of that day was a blur of activity and fun. I knew I didn’t want it to be a “big night”, as the next day I was off to check the only new county off my list, the British Virgin Islands.

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MoCo Downtown– The Best Italian Style Restaurant in New Brunswick

The following is a repost of my review for MoCo Downtown that appears on TripAdvisor.

I was there for the first time on Saturday and I was floored by how wonderful this gem of a place was. I ordered the Sussex Sausage Risotto and for a side paired it with the Sliced Brussel Sprout with Prosciutto and Pine Nut side.

It was so creamy and spicy and flavourful that it blew me away. The Brussel Sprouts we very salty, but that is exactly what you would get in Italy. Unlike many Italian restaurants that simply mimics what you would get in various parts of Italy, this place cooks like a Tuscan or Venetian chef would with access and highlighting of New Brunswick ingredients.

The food was so good but I would not want to not mention how friendly the wait staff was and how efficiently the kitchen was putting out plates. Definitely going to go back and explore more of this menu.

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Mobile Ordering

Today I visited the local coffee shop in the mall. The line was very long and the people started to appear frustrated or tired, but there was the pot of gold at the end of the line to make it all worthwhile. Correction, it was coffee, not gold but in the eyes of the patrons waiting it was more valuable than gold.

Meanwhile, I enter and walk past the line and pick up my coffee there waiting for me and leave to sit in the mall and watch the people and write this. The people watching began before I could even leave the restaurant. The scowl of disgust on their faces as I did not lime them join in the ancient, or present-day British, the tradition of fair queuing.

I participated in the modern “there’s an app for that” method of placing my order using my phone and picking it up. Although I used an app this is nothing really new. For all my life you could call up and arrange for pick-up of take-out restaurants.

Today’s purchase was at Tim Horton’s using their app. When it comes to ordering their app is pretty good. It is very straightforward and adding modifications is simple. The payment process and choosing a restaurant is also very intuitive. The downside of the app is that the specialty muffins are not in the app and some instructions like double toasting bagels are not there.

However, they are making lots of improvements and when I first used the app you could not have 1/2 sugar. There is a promotion now where you can get a free coffee (Regular, Dark, or Decaf) after 3 orders by the end of the year.

Another app I use regularly is the Cineplex app. This app is good for purchasing tickets, but the number of options to buy a ticket can be daunting. The perk, however, is not waiting in line for the kiosks and 50 bonus Scene points (1/20th of a movie).

The McDonald’s Canada app is of similar quality to Tim’s and is really straightforward to make a complex or simple order.

The final shopping app review has to be the Esso Speedpass+ app. This is really convenient as you do not have to stand outside and swipe your fuel savings card, then your points card, then choose a car wash option, then the on-screen payment. It is simply done on the app with very little effort.

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All Aboard for the Journey to Roma

As the story starts to get more dramatic we need to get into the mood. I have a fitting sound track for this portion. “Walk to Rialto Bridge”

This is the final day September 23rd before things start to go bad. The morning is sunny. We check out of Hotel Park in Ljubljana. Since the elevator is small I walk my bag down with a lot of effort 12 stories of stairs. I’m not feeling the greatest, I drank too much the night before. (Again)

After a small breakfast it is on the coach for a 2 hour drive to the meal stop where I get a better meal, then over an hour to the causeway to Venice, but we hop a boat that drops us off near Piazza de San Marco. (aka tourist trap/pigeon central) I went with a group to have lunch at a small restaurant, then ditched them.


I grabbed a bottle of wine and got lost for the afternoon. I really didn’t do any of the big attractions since I’ve done most of them before, and the 3 hour line to see in San Marco was not a useful waste of time. I spent most of my time exploring parts of the island I have never seen, and try flavours of Gelati (you can’t just have one Gelato) I had not tried. My heals were bleeding from cracked heals at this point, 25-35k steps a day in sandals will do that.


Late afternoon the group reconvened and went on a gondola ride. This time around they didn’t sell wine to drink on the gondola which was disappointing but still an opportunity to get more canal photos.


After the trip we had a free hour to get more Gelati, and I found the supermarket that I could stick up on bottles of wine for half the price. Also a perk was I could weigh the bottles and knew exactly how much weight allowance I had to make for it.


The next plan on the Itinerary was a tastes of Venice tour where we went to 3 different restaurants and sampled the food and had a glass of wine at each. Most of the food was great but there was a battered seafood place and some of them made my tongue go a bit weird, but not really as bad as an allergy. I think in hindsight that this may have been an accelerator factor of the symptoms to come.


After the tour we had about two hours and the sun had set and Venice at sunset then night is much cooler than Venice in the daytime. I started by going to the Aperol Spritz party in a piazza and with the wine a bit tipsy. Then I went to see the Academia Bridge that I didn’t get to see on this trip yet. I was starting to run out of time so I hurried back to San Marco’s Piazza as we were warned that they would leave without us. At past stops, this was an empty threat as people were late all the time.


Not this time we actually left two people on the island. After a boat ride to the other side, we got on the bus crossed the causeway and checked into Hotel Vienna. This place was a place to sleep and that is about all.


The next morning after breakfast it was on the road again, off to Rome! As the saying goes “All roads lead to Rome” and the tour I was on was even called the “Trail to Rome”. The adventure as well will end in Rome. As we left Venice we had some goodbyes as a few were not destined for Rome and rented a car and drove around for a few days.

The trip to Rome was short, and my feet were hurting a bit so I was fortunate it was a bus day. With only one stop we arrived in Rome around 2pm and had an hour to get settled and then go on a walkabout.

We will leave it here and the next post will be the last of the Europe Trip 2016 story, but not the last of this series.

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A Crazy Time

We arrive in Budapest around 5pm on September 20th. We were staying at Wombats Budapest and I was hungry. I needed to find a currency exchange place since I had too much Polish Zlotys left and the receptionist recommended this place around the corner. (Ibla Change) I did very well, I got close to 12,050 Forints. ($55 Canadian) Most of the other places were giving 8,700 for it. Now this place was really cheep! (Think the waiter from EuroTrip that would open his own hotel on a US Nickle.)

We went for a river tour that night and it was an amazing buffet and was as pretty as Budapest at night. On the cruise there was one couple that had been fighting the past couple days made up and got engaged!


After the cruise if you read the past posts in this series it was Shots and Beer time. We walked though this ally of restaurants and bars that was incredible. There was this amazing grunge looking place we went to that had many stories and bars in it. It was so packed, after a few beers, I just left everyone and walked back to the hotel. This is when I was approached by a woman of the night, we talked a bit, but I turned her down. She then got upset and started yelling something in Hungarian and then spit on me and said I was cursed.

Totally freaked out I went back to my room and showered. My giant bubble on my head bursts at this point and was filled with yellow puss. I decide to shower and go to bed. As I move the sheets there is a little black bug moving along the sheets. I move the mattress and there is more and then so look at the joints of the bunk bed any there is even more. Then I check the other sets of beds in the room and there is none.I go to reception and they address the problem by cleaning my stuff and giving me a different co-ed shared room for the night as they are fully booked, and would get a new room the next day. As I enter the room it is dark and I use my phone as a flashlight to make the bed (check for bugs) and then I fell asleep.


As I awoke the next morning I awake and look around the room, and there is a Australian blonde laying on the sheets, like Copenhagen, naked. I had a tour in the morning so I got breakfast and placed my stuff in storage until I got my room. The tour was okay we walked all around the Pest part of town, seen the statues, buildings and learned the history. The tour ended in the Terror Museum that was okay, but there are better things to do like the baths


After the tour some of us went to a fancy Italian restaurant that was so good. I then left the group and wandered to the Buda side to climb up to the castle and take photos. I then went to find a restaurant in that ally that was the most expensive local cuisine as I had so much money left (about 5000 forints).


That night everyone was going out again and I joined them for pre-drinks but was not feeling going out. So I just sat and talked until late with those who were sitting around.

The next morning we drove to Slovenia, we were close to the Croatian border where there is a fence and fields to keep out the migrants. Kind of felt like the Berlin Wall in theory. We got to see the biggest tourist trap in the area Lake Bled that has a famous cake. Let’s face it you had me at cake, that was what I was doing getting coffee and cake. The cake was good and the patio views were good too.


We then ended up at the destination city of Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia. Most of the group ended up going to a Mexican restaurant that was really good. Then we ended up at a very cool dungeon bar for drinks. As half the group went to a club, I went with the other group for drinks at a kind of sketchy packed place. It was the most fun I’ve had. I got waisted… again.


As we headed back it was hilarious everyone was following me as I was waisted trying to find my way back.

The next morning it was off to the final country, Italy.

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Parkway Mall (Review)

During the golden era of malls this was one of the finest in Saint John. Now it hosts very few places for shopping. A collage and call centre take up most of the building but there are still a few stores and restaurants.

212 McAllister Drive
Saint John, NB E2J 2S5

This Review was originally posted on Yelp, in 2019 I deleted my Yelp account and moved the reviews here.

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Voyage to the Caribbean Part 2 (Fatty should lose some weight)

While we left off on the last post I had arrived to San Juan but had no luggage as at this point it was still in Toronto. I got up later about 8am showered and went to the free continental breakfast buffet at the San Juan Airport Hotel. It was not the greatest of breakfasts but it was typical of other hotels I have previously stayed at. Before leaving the hotel I made a call to American Airlines to see if my bag was on its way on the flight I was explained last night. I was assured it was scanned and was in the air on its way to Miami. Since the bag was going to be delivered to the ship there was no point in waiting around the airport on a beautiful sunny winter’s day.

I decided to go catch the bus but when I got to the bus stop I seen some people walking so I decided to as well. I was not sure which way I was headed from the airport as many of the signs were in a language I would later learn was Spanish. I had a map on a brochure that had only 7 roads and 2 dots to go off of but I know if I could find the coast that I could follow it to the cruise port. Since the sun was behind me I knew that had to be east and since tall hotels are usually built along a coastline I figured the tall buildings on the other side of the airport had to be north. With that in mind I followed the side-walk around the airport until it ended then to the dirt trail along the fence until that ended too. I ran across the exit ramp and under the over pass then I ran out of places to walk. In hindsight that could have been the reason all the cabs had honked and gesture if I needed a cab. From there I climbed a grassy knoll and jumped a concrete barrier and ran across a busy off-ramp.

As I emerged beyond the highway to Pueblo Supermarket in the very Spanish town of Carolina neighbouring San Juan. I decided to go to the supermarket because I decided that I needed water in the heat. While walking across the parking lot some random guy started to yell at me in Spanish. I said that I did not understand Spanish and only spoke English. Then he said “I’m sorry. I said that Fatty should lose some weight.” That caught me first by surprise that someone would say that and secondly, what neighbour hood did I get myself into? I then sold him about my recent weight loss, and he gave me some more tips before we pith went on our way. When I entered the grocery store I was grateful for the air conditioning and then picket up a fresh local tangerine then noticed how processed and fake most of the other food actually was compared to what I am used to then I also picked up a litre bottle of water and proceeded to walk along the was westward bound to the cruise terminal.

As I proceeded along Avenida Isla Verde and found impressive the resorts and hotels on one side and the bars and restaurants on the other side. When I got to the end of this street I came across a stretch of  gated neighbourhoods keeping me from the coast until I came across Barbosa Park that was the 1st time I got to see Caribbean waters even though it was technically still the Atlantic Ocean. It was here that I received the first automated call from American Airlines that my suitcase had made it to Miami. I then proceeded to walk further until after drinking the entire litre of water I needed to find a toilet. I then came across a restaurant but it looked busy so I kept walking then on McLeary I found the Yogen Früz. I decided to stop there and get a frozen yogurt and then hit the toilet. I stayed there enjoying the frozen yogurt and air conditioning. I got some Wi-Fi access here and decided to load a map to determine if I was actually going the right way.

When I left here I shortly ended up in another hotel district. I was walking past a large group of people loading into a van to head to the cruise terminal and I could tell by the tags that they were going to the same ship as me. I got a little nervous as I knew I had another hours walk at least to get to San Juan. I eventually made it across the bridge to San Juan and then decided to walk to the coast again to check out the fort that ended up being gated off. At this point my feet were very sore since my walking sneakers were in my suitcase that was just departing Miami. I then by this point was getting tired and dehydrated. I walked down Ave Juan Ponce De León and came to enjoy the shaded benches along Parque Luis Muñoz Rivera. I found a store but it was locked and the guy inside did not open up so I kept walking. I eventually got to the cruise port and then found the CVS where I got water, juice, and Aloe Vera Aftersun. As I was waiting in line I started to feel like I was going to pass out. I left the store just in time to find a bench with some shade and drink all the juice and water before I passed not in the sun.

While on the bench I called American Airlines the final time to see if my luggage was scanned on the flight to San Juan and it was so I decided to go board the ship, the Carnival Valor. The first thing I did when I got on the ship was found my room and it was bigger than I expected for an inside cabin. I then decided that I needed lunch considering I had a late dinner reservation and I found the Burrito Bar, and it was amazing. I then explored the ship and received the call the my suitcase was in San Juan and would be delivered to the ship at 6pm. I then went to the welcome event at the Ivan Hoe theatre and then to dinner where I met a diverse group of people. I then had a few drinks and went to bed.

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2013 the Year of Firsts!

After the mess of a year 2012 was my New Year’s resolution was that 2013 was going to be a year of firsts. This year also seemed to acquire a slogan as well due to my Contiki trip, and that was #noregrets.

Now I know that I have ignored updating here as often as I should in favour of quick tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagrams. For the year-end post I thought I would take a moment to list my firsts for the year (in no particular order).

1. Had a real birthday celebration.

2. First time in Monaco and Liechtenstein (small enough to be a single first).

3. Went to an adult costume party for Hallowe’en.

4. Exceeded my custom’s limit.

5. First major out-of-town music festival. (Osheaga)

6. My first “snowboard”.

7. Tried out a few new restaurants. (Decimal 81, Britt’s, Lemongrass)

8. Volunteered for my first theatre event. (Fundy Fringe Festival)

I have also included below a gallery of some of this years best moments that I have photos of.