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My First Cruise Since Covid-19, 2020

I've got my first cruise under my belt, after a year and a half of no cruising. Sailing on the Carnival Breeze, August 7-12, 2021. My friend Carmen & I sailed out of Galveston, TX with stops in Cozumel & Progresso (Merida), Mexico.

It was a fabulous trip. I took an Inside Guarantee cabin for us. I love to take guarantees. They don't necessarily upgrade your cabin, but they do give you a better location. In the case of this cabin, we ended up in the center of the ship on Deck 6. Best spot ever. All the action & activities were on Deck 5, so we were fastest to the action.

Our boarding was like any other boarding on cruises. The only difference was the mask wearing. We were only booked to 70% for our cruise. All adults on board were vaccinated. Some children were allowed to be exempted, but no un-vaccinated adults. We did not need a Covid-19 test prior to our departure, but future sailings now require it.

After we checked in, we went to our muster station for individual safety briefings. I liked this much better, quick & fast.

Time for lunch-self service buffet! Masks are still on until you get to your table or by sitting outside. The ice cream machines were in place and again, this was also self-service. I look forward to this ice cream every day on my cruises.

Every cruise, I say I'm going to participate in more activities and there were plenty available throughout the cruise. I'm more of fun in the sun gal!

Vaccinated & un-vaccinated cruisers took separate tours. I have been to Cozumel many times, so this time I went to Mr. Sancho's Beach Club (above). An all-inclusive beach club that you reserve online for $10 per person. Total cost $60 payable per person at the resort-well worth it-great day. In Progresso, I didn't take a tour. Instead, I took the complimentary bus from the pier to town, got an hour massage for $20 and then went and had a cocktail on the beach, before heading back to the cruise ship. Of course, I stocked on pharmaceuticals (Amoxycillin & Z-Packs) while I was in town.

Dinner time-nothing has changed. Everything went really smoothly on this cruise.

My next cruise adventure is coming up very soon. I will be sailing on the American Queen with the American Queen Steamboat Company, September 5-13, 2021. Originally, sailing from New Orleans to Memphis, but due to Hurricane Ida, now sailing round-trip from Memphis. More info to come-stay tuned.



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There's a Fine Dining Restaurant Hidden Behind A Painting and I Know Where To Find It!

Tucked away behind a painting in a Greenwich Village art gallery, Frevo is hidden from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

New York City knows how to keep a good secret. From clandestine cocktail bars and tucked-away gardens to exclusive parties and hidden pieces of history, its list of classified gems is reserved for those in the know — and getting in on a good scoop can feel wholly satisfying, a privilege that puts you in a select circle of privy, clued-in New Yorkers.

But sometimes, the best secrets are those you don't keep — the ones you share and enjoy in the company of others. Enter: Frevo, a contemporary restaurant in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Before you start spreading the word, though, you first need to know where to find it. You see, the surreptitious, speakeasy-style restaurant is concealed. Upon arriving at the West 8th Street address, you'll find a small art gallery, not a restaurant. You may pull out your phone to check if you're in the right place — and you are, as the young woman standing in front of the colorful canvases, created by French artist Toma-L, confirms.

From there, the surprises only continue: Pulling open one of the paintings reveals a secret door, inviting those lucky enough to have scored a reservation to step through and sidle up to one of the 14 counter seats.

"My business partner, Bernardo Silva, and I always dreamt of opening a restaurant in NYC since we were younger," says Brazil-born, French-taught chef Franco Sampogna, the brains behind the entire operation. Silva, from Portugal, met Sampogna while working in a restaurant in France. "When we found this space, it was larger than we initially planned…That's when Bernardo came up with the idea of using almost 30% of the space as an art gallery in the front, using one of the artworks as the gateway to the restaurant."

Though the idea of attracting business to a restaurant that's in disguise naturally drew some skeptics, the concept proved to be a successful one. Just take it from me: Vanishing behind the portal-like painting and into the secluded, warmly lit restaurant is pure magic, the type of thrill often found only in fantasy films and novels. But be prepared to be transported with your taste buds, too, starting with the welcome glass of Champagne the sommelier pours to perfectly pair with a palate-opening amuse-bouche: for us, an artichoke-stuffed arancini ball kissed with truffle and parmesan.

If it seems as though Sampogna and Silva have thought of everything, it's because they have, down to the custom-made cutlery and glasses and soulful playlist. With such precision and perfection going into the whole experience, you might expect a formal feel, but the open kitchen and communal counter encourages casual interaction and camaraderie between the guests and chefs, waiters, and bartenders, keeping the mood laid-back yet elegant and intimate. (There are also two separate tables in the back for those wanting privacy.)

As for the name Frevo? It comes from the Portuguese word "to boil" — a nod not only to the language Sampogna and Silva share, but also to the bubbling spirit and energy of the city. And in a place like New York, which has it all, Frevo finds a way to stand out even when out of plain sight.

I will be stopping here, next time I get to New York City!


That's all for today. Until next time. Happy Trails!

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