Snails at sea and other adventures

View from our hotel in north Miami Beach

When I introduced myself last month, I talked about my desire to collect experiences. While not all firsts are good—breaking my first bone, first trip to the ER with my son, my first car accident—I’m always looking to try something new.

Last week, I added a few more firsts in one fell swoop with a trip to Miami to catch a Caribbean cruise with most of my husband’s family. (My first vacation with the in-laws in 16 years of marriage.)

This was my first visit to Miami, and after two-and-a-half days of driving, I hit the beach for a run before we met everyone for dinner at a Cuban restaurant. Later in the week, we took a four-hour bus tour through South Beach, Key Biscayne, downtown, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, and Little Havana.

The really, really big first though, was my first cruise. I’ve avoided them for a long time, but it seemed like the perfect way to travel with family while still having some “escape room”. Plus, my boys got to roam freely with their similarly-aged cousins, and hang out in the teen lounge.

Our ship docked in Nassau

I’m still not sure cruising is quite my thing—I’m not big on bars, gambling, karaoke, or getting lobsterized next to the pool—but we had a good time. There was plenty of great food, the staff was friendly, the gym was decent with an amazing view at sunrise, and the view of the stars at night was spectacular from the upper deck.

I skipped the experience in France, but I ate my first escargot on the cruise. Our friendly waiter, Iggy from India, liked to bring out appetizers and desserts he thought we should have picked, so even though we all ordered something else, he couldn’t let us go without trying the snails. Honestly, it was like eating a tiny scallop smothered in thick, garlicky, buttery sauce.

How could it not taste good? I’d probably eat rubber covered in that stuff.

Barefoot Beach on Coco Cay, Bahamas

The three ports we stopped in were Nassau, Coco Cay (Royal Caribbean’s private island, also in the Bahamas), and Key West. So now I’ve been to the southernmost point in the continental United States, and I’ve driven by Hemingway’s house on the Conch Train in sweltering, sticky heat.

The last first that’s worth talking about was our jet ski ride on Coco Cay. Hot damn that was fun. It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had on the water. Ever.

When the guy in front of me put too much room between us, I just had to catch up with him. I have no idea how fast Taz and I were going, but I had the throttle on full and we were absolutely flying. We sped over the water bouncing from swell to swell, catching air, laughing and giddy from the rush. Worth. Every. Penny.

So that’s a recap of my week of firsts. How about you? Had any firsts lately—good or bad—that you want to share?

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21 Responses

  1. i would love to go to the bahamas looks wonderful!
    http://sandbetweentoes.wordpress.com/

    • Laura: It was nice, but very, very hot this time of year, which made it hard to explore as much as we wanted to.

      We went to St. Lucia a few years ago in January and the weather was perfect. It’s the quintessential mountainous Caribbean island covered in rainforest. Absolutely loved it.

  2. […] Friday of the month post over at Everybody Needs a Little Romance. Today I’m talking about Snails at sea and other adventures. Stop by if you get a […]

  3. Oh, that sounds like such fun. Especially the jet ski.

    I’ve had escargot – liked it just fine (and I don’t like icky stuff)

    Did my first and only cruise a few years back. Didn’t think I’d like it, but I did. Can’t think of any other firsts, other than finally making it to NYC. I’m mostly a girl of my repitition.

    Thanks for taking us on vacation for a few minutes 🙂

    • Liz: I’d be ecstatic to have your first of making it to NYC! I can’t wait to be blogging about that one. I hope you all have a few years to wait…

      I didn’t think I’d like the cruise either, and while it wasn’t totally my thing, we had fun and would do it again under the right circumstances.

      What’s funny is that when I’m home, I’m very much a creature of routine, and a total homebody. But I guess I have to balance that with occasional forays into the unknown. 😉

  4. Wow! Sounds like a wonderful trip! I’ve never done the cruise thing. I have to see land at all times! LOL I’m a home body as well. Love experiencing new places and things for short spurts, but can’t wait to get back home. 🙂 Escargot, not on your life. Jet ski, sign me up!! 🙂

    A BIG first for me was sitting on an author panel last night for a local writing group at Barnes & Noble. Public speaking is so not my thing. It was fun, but talk about terrifying! I’m still recovering. LOL

  5. Melissa: I thought not seeing land would bother me, but it didn’t. The view was a lot like sitting on a beach staring out to see, and the boat pretty much felt like being on the balcony of a hotel on land. I even managed not to get seasick!

    Congrats on your first author panel! How exciting. I understand the fear of public speaking all too well. Three years of Toastmasters mostly cured it, but I still break out in a sweat when the spotlight’s on me. Good job pushing through it!

  6. aaaawesome Gwen! I’ve done a Caribbean cruise a couple times. On my wish list is Alaska and then…a 2-3week long Transatlantic Cruise that leaves from NY, goes across the ocean and hits all over the UK. Haven’t talked my hubby into the last one, but oh, man, i think it would amazing.

    • Keri: Alaska is one of the cruises I’m interested in. We’ve been talking about it, but it’ll probably be a few years. I think that would be an amazing way to see that part of the world. The transatlantic crossing sounds pretty cool too!

      Let us know if you need help prodding the hubby. 😉

  7. “Snails at sea and other adventures”

    Now that’s a title!

    • Ha, thanks, Curtis! Probably better than the actual post. 😉 I appreciate you stopping by. Enjoy your weekend!

      • The “actual post” told me you like action more on the order of a jet ski running flat out rather than the snails pace of a floating mall. Your title didn’t come from no where. Just saying. 🙂

  8. I don’t think I’ve had any firsts lately! 😦

    I went on a cruise about 10 years ago. We’re thinking of doing it again next year, all four of us this time. I loved it, but my husband was less enamored. I’m a total ocean person, and very much into relaxation. He likes to DO stuff all the time. 🙂

    Oh! I know what I did for the first time recently! Rode as a passenger with a newly permitted teen driver behind the wheel. LOL

  9. I went on my first cruise in January (Miami t0 Key West to Cozumel). Like you, the bars, karaoke and gambling did nothing for me. It was all right and I’m glad I did it but for me, it’s a check mark in the “to be done” file. Would I do it again? Only it is was Alaska. Otherwise, no.

    We have jet skis all over the lake. Have ridden one. Reminded me of riding in a bumpy boat, so that’s another “been there, done that, won’t do again”

    (Wow..I sound like that old grumpy neighbor! *You kids get off my lawn*)

    I can’t think if any thing I really want to do that I haven’t! Well except maybe sky diving. I did a glider a few years ago and that was awesome and I loved the quiet of hot air ballooning so I think sky diving might be interesting.

    Public speaking doesn’t freak me out. I was a teacher for too many years.

    • Wow, Cyndi, I can’t imagine not having anything left to try, but it sounds like a life well-lived. 😉

      Skydiving is one adventure that will not be on my list. It sounds amazing, but I’m not into death-defying thrills. Or those with a high likelihood of a leg break. 😉 Now a hot air balloon ride I could definitely get behind though. When I was a teenager, my dad bought my grandma a balloon ride for her 80th birthday and she loved it.

  10. I can’t convince Dr. Stevens to cruise, but I fantasize about writing the great American romance novel in Moleskines while crossing the Atlantic.
    Um…firsts…um…I visited my first haunted midwestern castle (Voorhies Castle in central IL). It was more of a large house than a castle and there wasn’t much to the haunting, but I did pry some weird tales of the locals out of the tour guide, which I’d better not forget since I have no Moleskines.

    • Keri: There’s a cruise out of Baltimore that goes through Newfoundland and hits some other interesting places along the way before landing in England after 16 days. I think one could get a lot of writing done with so many days between ports. You’d probably get a different type of person on that cruise.

      There’s a castle in IL??! I’m sure you can spin some interesting stories from those tales of locals. 😉 I took lots of cruise notes on my laptop via Evernote. I already have a cruise idea churning…

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