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Grand Princess Martini of the Day – Toasted Almond – Gastric Bypass Review

NOW we’re talking MARTINI!! toastedalmondmartini.jpg

I know, I’ve badmouthed martinis all week long so far.  They were not going to impress me with a martini if Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson carried Brad Pitt into the dining room to serve the martini off of his washboard abs. 

But this one has Amaretto!  And Kahlua!  And Brogan’s Irish Cream!!  Oh, yeah, and vodka, which honestly, if they had left it out, the drink would have been perfect.

Cold and creamy, with all of the good stuff working over time to kill the gasoline burn the vodka causes as you swallow, this martini is the one to order if you are at a martini bar and all of your alkie friends are guzzling down drinks as if there is Beyonce’s diamond ring in the bottom of every glass.  It’s the least alcoholic tasting of the martini’s I’ve tried, and I’m sure if you slip the bartender at the martini bar, he’d be willing to leave out that nasty vodka without telling your friends you are a booze baby.

My fellow gastric bypass patients – yeah, if you’re a sugar dumper, just have the smallest sip of this one.  But if you want to try to make it at home with less alcohol (and less sugar), you could use the DaVinci sugar free Amaretto syrup.  If you can tolerate a little sugar, this is worth trying.  This was a nice drink.

Grand Princess Drink of the Day – Ultimate Cooler – Gastric Bypass Review

The ultimate cooler cocktail is billed as the drink that will cool down your senses.  I don’t know about cooling them down, but I would say one too many of these, and your senses will be dulled at the very least.

I have tried to find out what might be in this cocktail by looking up drink recipes online, and I cannot find anything that describes itself as an “ultimate cooler”.  But since the drink we were served was sort of like drinking the pretty blue Listerene that fools you into thinking it won’t taste like Listerene but it does anyway, I found a recipe for a drink actually called Cool Mint Listerene.  That has to be this drink.
Basically, this drink is Blue Curacao and Peppermint Schnapps (or Rumpleminze – the German version).  It is a gorgeous blue, and it reminds you of the cool, refreshing Caribbean water on a hot day.  And then you drink it.  And you realize you are drinking gasoline.  Or turpentine.  Or that pretty blue Listerene that fools you into thinking it won’t taste like Listerene.  But it does.  And so does this.

If you’ve had gastric bypass surgery – I beg you, please don’t waste drinking on this!  If you HAVE to drink something, get a fuzzy navel or a nice strawberry daiquiri.  Save the anti-freeze for your car.  Other than the sugar in the alcohol, there’s nothing else in here that will harm you – no bubbles, no added sugar, no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Skip this drink of the day.  You can gargle at bedtime.

Penny Lane is In My Ears and In My Eyes and Out the Bus Window

August 22 on the Grand Princess, and we are in Liverpool, England.  I have to admit, I don’t know anything about Liverpool other than the fact that is it the birthplace of the Beatles.  I even have a difficult time choosing an excursion here, because there isn’t anything that jumps out at me as something we would all enjoy doing.  There are 7 of us, and while I’d love some of the Titanic history, or even a walk in the Beatles footsteps, not all of us would.  We end up doing a city tour, and it turns out to be quite interesting.

The architecture in Liverpool is stunning.  There are old buildings that have all the fine detail buildings had back in the day interspersed with modern buildings and even a building that serves as moveable art.  I am so busy snapping pictures of the gorgeous things we are seeing that I honestly don’t hear very much of what the tour guide is saying.

This is another half day tour, so we don’t get to see a lot, but we do stop at two amazing churches.  One is a Catholic cathedral that has some of the most beautiful stained glass I have ever seen – until we go to the Church of England cathedral, which has even more stunning stained glass.  We see Albert Docks, and the Cunard building, and then we take a trip to see the heart of Beatles heaven.  A quick drive past the bronze Beatle statues, and a look down the street to see The Cavern Club, the venue where the Beatles first played – and were told to “cut out the bloody rock” when they played Elvis Presley songs. 

We drive around the city, and I am most fascinated by the Lamb Bananas that exist everywhere!  These are odd little Japanese sculptures, which I thought were dogs, but apparently they are half lamb, half banana.  They are painted in different colors and patterns, depending where they are in the city.  I thought they were cool.

Lamb Banana

The last highlight on our tour of Liverpool is to go down Penny Lane.  This is not an easy task in a large motorcoach, as Penny Lane is a rather narrow street.  The worst part of the whole experience was when our tour guide decided to play the song “Penny Lane” for us all to listen to as we drove down the street.  Except he played it on an old cassette player, and then held his microphone to the speaker on the cassette player for us to listen.  It was like listening to one of those “lost Beatles tapes” – you know, where someone taped them and they were in a bar somewhere with a really bad sound system. 

Interesting fact – our tour guide’s mother was in charge of organizing a street party in their Liverpool neighborhood.  She had to come up with some activities for the children, so she paid a young John Lennon 50 cents to do a few songs for the children.  She claimed it was Lennon’s first paid gig!

Back to the ship for the whole lunch time routine.  Eilis enjoyed the afternoon in the kids’ club, and we enjoyed the afternoon hanging around and relaxing. 

The best part of Liverpool?  Our deputy cruise director, Stu, is from Liverpool, and his Mum still lives there.  He had not seen her in 7 years, and he got to spend the day with her while we were in port.  I couldn’t wait until the Grand Princess morning show the next morning to hear how it went – and believe me, I welled up with tears when he talked about his visit!

The Incorruptibles and a Visit with St. Vincent Pallotti at San Salvatore in Onda

This really does have something to do with our recent vacation, although it comes a little out of order. 

I am fascinated with the Incorruptibles.  The Incorruptibles are the bodies that have not decomposed as other human bodies would.  Although I do not know at what rate incorruptibility occurs, there are a handful of saints and blessed Catholics who are incorruptible. 

There is a long list of things I’d like to do before I die, and I won’t say that seeing the Incorruptibles is high on the list, but it’s definitely something I think would be interesting to do.  If it were possible to see all of the saints who remain in an incorruptible state, I’d want to go.  If I can’t see all of them, the ones high on my list are St. Bernadette, who died in 1879, but looks like this today:

St. Bernadette

Pope Pius X, who died in 1914:

Pius X

Grand Princess Martini of the Day – Sour Apple Martini

sourapplemartini.jpgI’m just beginning to think there really is not one redeeming quality to a martini anywhere.  I just can’t handle them! 

A sour apple martini – a pretty standard martini nowadays – is made with vodka and sour apple Schnapps (hmmm, do they do a fuzzy navel martini?).  It’s sour.  And throat burning.  And very alcoholy tasting.  Ewww. 

Please keep in mind that these drink reviews are from a non-drinker.  And it’s important for non-drinkers to know that if you are ever out socially and you want something to sip on while everyone else enjoys a cocktail, there are some that just are not meant for palates that do not appreciate the merits of a good strong drink.  I wanted this drink to be somewhat fruity – maybe a little like a Jolly Rancher candy.  It’s not.  It’s yuck.

Grand Princess Drink of the Day – Grasshopper

Ahhh, minty fresh; but I like it too!  Oh, wait, that’s Irish Spring soap.  Or is it this drink?  Never mind.

grasshopper.jpgThe Grasshopper – a green drink to celebrate our day in Dublin.  This drink is made from green Creme de Menthe; white Creme de Cocoa; and either milk, fresh cream, or for a really decadent drink, vanilla ice cream.  I’m thinking the one we had was made with cream.

This isn’t bad, but I’m not a big fan of things like mint chocolate chip ice cream.  I like the creamy consistency of this drink, and the alcohol taste, while definitely there, is not the kind that burns your throat when you swallow.  It is definitely a refreshing cocktail. 

The best thing about this drink in terms of your gastric bypass patient is that it does not contain any sodas, but of course, the creme de menthe and creme de cocoa are both loaded with sugar.  Take a sip or two, but you don’t want to over indulge with this one.

There’s Quare Things In Dublin – But We’re Leaving At Dinner time…

Again with the land of my people!  We arrive oh so early this morning in Dublin’s Fair City, Where the Girls are So Pretty – and I know you all know that song, despite the fact that apparently my husband and 2/3 of my children did not.

After another buffet breakfast – featuring a bowl of grits this morning!! – we head to the Princess Theatre to meet our tour group.  Dot and Russ don’t take any chances this time, and they wait in the back, as instructed, to head down ahead of the rest of us.  We opt to stay with the group, because if they board the bus too early, the kids will be way to antsy before it’s time for them to be antsy.  Not that there’s a good time for them to be antsy, but you moms know what I mean.

The tour guide in Dublin is really great – she’s funny, she’s knowledgable, and I have to say that I find on nearly every excursion, the guides really have a sense of humor about things, which makes the trip much more enjoyable.  We visit Trinity College, but not before we drive past the General Post Office – Ard-Oifig an Phoist – the headquarters for the Easter rebellion in 1916.  Allegedly, you can still see bullet holes in the building, but this is a bus tour, so we didn’t get to see the holes.  We did get out and tour the grounds of Trinity College, but we didn’t get to see the Book of Kells.  The tour of Dublin, while interesting and informative, was probably my biggest disappointment, as there is SO much I want to see in Dublin that we didn’t get to see.

After leaving the college, we headed out to the Phoenix Park, the Dublin Zoo, the Pope’s Cross, and then we saw the home of the President of Ireland, who apparently has heard a few of the Motel Six Commercials.  You know the ones where they say, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”?  Well, there is always a light on in the home of the President to let Irish people everywhere know they are welcome home at any time.  I love that.  I think it’s a beautiful thing, and maybe it helps contribute to the very warm welcome we received everywhere we went in Ireland. 

They talk about cruising like this as kind of an appetizer sampler.  You get a little taste of a few different things, and then at some other time, you might come back for the full entree.  I think Dublin – and all of Ireland – is going to be that for me.  I love that I am here, but now I’m dying to go back and see everything I missed.

Our visit here is over WAY too quickly, and we head back to the ship right around lunch time.  Again, we have a great lunch – how can you not with so many options open to you.  We really try to eat in the dining room for lunch each time we are on the ship.  Not only does it keep you from over indulging on the buffet, but it’s just a nice way to relax and reconnect.  The kids are learning what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate on this voyage, and it’s not always an easy lesson.  There are a few meltdowns along the way, but I think they really did come away from the trip with some valuable lessons.

Anyway, Eilis, again, wants to go to the kids club, and that’s fine.  Granuaile is starting to want to spend time there as well, and they have a lot of crafts and activities for the kids to do.  They stay until it’s time to shower and get ready for dinner, which is again the Smart Casual attire. 

Dinner is great, as always, and the service and attention is unparalleled.  The shows tonight are A classical Concert with a string quartet, or a show featuring Billy Richard’s Coasters – the people who sang Charlie Brown and Yakety Yak.  We skip the shows, check out the pictures, and have a little break before we have to go pick the kids up at kids’ club.  Our night time routine is to pick them up, walk to get a snack (salad for me, and pizza for them), and head to bed.  They aren’t getting as much sleep as they probably need, but they are enjoying every minute.