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Old 07-04-2009, 10:26 AM   #286
nenner1
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Originally Posted by kileybeth View Post
Been lurkin' and learnin' on your trippie for awhile now, just thought I would delurk and tell you I love the picture laden reports. Your pics are fabulous but then your family is quite handsome, makes the shots so much nicer!

Can't wait to see/hear more.

Already planning on Margarittaville and Coconuts!
Aww, thank you so much!

LOL, I try to stay out of as many pics as possible...

There is much more to come, hopefully soon (I miss my laptop!!!!)
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Old 07-16-2009, 08:36 AM   #287
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Where are you??????????
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Old 07-17-2009, 06:20 PM   #288
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Where are you??????????
LOL, I went AWOL!!

I am so sorry for the delay...we have been computer-less for the last couple of weeks. Finally I got one of them back today. They junked our other one and we have to go back to get a replacement next week and things will finally be back to normal.

I should have another installment up this weekend ...maybe tonight.....we'll see!
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:45 AM   #289
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Yeah!!! You're back!!!!
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:24 PM   #290
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The Great Filling Station Holdup

The Great Filling Station Holdup

When I last left you, we were heading west on Transversal Road, heading back to the port area after a fun and relaxing trip along the rustic east side of Cozumel. It was already well into late afternoon, and we would have to return our car soon. Lucky #13 had done us well, we did notice two young touristas in a jeep get pulled over right after we left the Mezcalitos area, and we were quite happy that wasn’t us.

After a short ride viewing more scenery of the“real” Cozumel, we arrived at the world- famous Pee Pee Station. I don’t know what I expected (I had seen signs for this place); I guess something akin to a highway rest stop, but nope. Just another shop, albeit a shop (I assume) with bathrooms.
Here’s the visual:




The trip along Transversal Road was very quick, a testament to how small this island really is. It took only between 5-10 minutes to drive from one coast to the other, at the widest part of the island.



Arriving back in town, we discussed how to handle the car “drop”. Since we had so much stuff with us, And the walk to the car rental agency was so long, we decided that Ron would drop me and the kids (and the stuff) off at Margaritaville, and we could hang out there while he gassed up and returned the car, and then he would jog back to meet us. We thought this would be the best plan but it didn’t really work out so well, especially for Ron!

Margaritaville Cozumel is located a few blocks south of the port right along the coastline. The street view:





We headed in and got settled at a large table along the rear of the restaurant overlooking the back patio. We ordered drinks (sodas for the kids and something frozen, fruity, and boozy for me) and Ron headed off to take care of business.

Part of the deal renting cars in Cozumel is you have to return them with a full tank of gas (or get charged some random exorbitant fee). Gas stations in Mexico (all of them full service) are well known amongst internet travel message boards as one of the most common places to encounter a scam. We read extensively about how they pull the gas station scams (starting without the pump reset, adjusting the numbers when you aren’t looking, etc.) so we felt we were prepared for whatever they might possibly pull on us. Usually the pump scams are a two person job (one pumps the gas, one tinkers with the pump to employ the scam), so it is always recommended to have more than one person with you at a Mexican gas station to have a set of eyes on everything going on. We already violated that rule by sending Ron alone so you can guess where this is going.

Ron pulled into the pump and opened his door to watch carefully. Right away he noticed the operator preparing to pump without it being reset. It was on about $10 USD, and Ron said “No, it needs to be on Zero.” Of course the pumper claimed to not understand English (yea, right) and so Ron said “Cero! Cero!” and pointed at the pump. The guy said “Ohhhh! Cero!” And sheepishly nodded as if he forgot. He reset the pump and pumped the gas. The total ended up being about $8 USD. As Ron prepared to pay, a second guy approached. Honcho #2 told Ron to turn on the ignition to make sure the gauge read full. Of course in the split second he averted his head to turn the key, the price on the pump shot up to $18 USD. Ron immediately said to them, “Oh NO it said $8 before!” And so honcho #2 just shrugged as if to say “Ok you got me”, and proceeded to try and give Ron his change in Mexican dolares. “No, I want American money” he said to them. I guess they understood that, as finally he got the proper change- in ones of course to better accommodate a tip, which he explained to them: “I’m not going to tip you since you tried to cheat me”, and away he drove.

Returning the car was quick and easy, no hidden fees or unexpected charges. The gas scam had really soured Ron though and after the several mile trek back to Margaritaville (and well over an hour later) he was still fuming about it.

Meanwhile we were soaking up the Caribbean atmosphere inside Margaritaville. It was relatively quiet when we were there with just a small scattering of tables occupied. At the time the newest restaurant in the chain the inside was large with huge towering ceilings, plenty of sun-spilling windows, and all the kitschy tropical décor you can stand. Outside a large wooden deck with plenty of tables overlooked the coastline, port, and towering ships, flanked by a large tiki bar affixed with rope swings instead of barstools.



Indeed:




Instead of a waterslide, this Margaritaville advertised a large water trampoline, accessible by swimming about 50 feet into the ocean. Unfortunately, upon inquiring we were told that the trampoline had acquired some damage and had been deflated. We relaxed at our table, enjoyed the occasional Buffett tune interspersed with loud Mariachi, Ranchera, and Marimba tunes. The most prominent interior features included a massive coral reef replica sculpture towering above the seating area and a rather amusing DJ booth situated in the mouth of a very massive toothy shark.






Our server was friendly and efficient and was content to let us relax and inhabit his table as long as we desired. A balloon artist happened by to make creations for each of the kids (notice the prominent tip bucket? Luckily I had a couple of bucks on me… (We weren’t planning to settle the check until Ron returned so it was all I had).








Not long afterwards Margaritaville was interrupted by some ear piercing “Banda” music, and much to my surprise the servers climbed up on a small platform in an adjacent window and performed a short, amusing dance.
Must-see TV here:



One of the few pictures taken of me this day and I do look worse for the wear!




Ay Caramba!




Chillin in the 'Ville:





Not long afterwards Ron arrived, still more than slightly perturbed from his adventure, and reiterating what an extensive distance he had just traveled on foot. After a short (and relatively cheap by our Margaritaville purchasing standards) stop in the gift shop, we headed back to the ship.

Of course we made a few stops along the way...

Frankie and Lola: (not on their second honeymoon in Pensacola…haven’t really figured out the tie between that song and Cozumel but whatever)



OF COURSE no one could resist this invitation:









The walk back was much more enjoyable. It must have been siesta time, since the city streets were quiet and fairly empty. I began to wonder about the nightlife reputation of Cozumel since it was already dusk and the city seemed to be going to sleep, not waking up. Our cruise mates proved that Cozumel apparently does have plenty of nightlife, however.
A local coke machine, reminiscent of Club Cool: We should have bought one of those weird sodas at the bottom, don’t know why we didn’t.



In the plaza outside of the Punta Lagosta mall , we found the photo-op hanging shark (where entrepreneurial hawkers were snagging like $10/pic -with your own camera of course- earlier in the day) completely deserted. Obviously we jumped on our chance for a “free” picture:



**Continued in next Post: Where's The Party?**
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:28 PM   #291
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Where's The Party?

It was about this time, we decided we would not be able to make the long trek across the dreaded mall and long pier back to the boat without using the restroom. There were public restrooms right at the Punta Lagosta Mall plaza, which we were happy to discover we were in the immediate vicinity of.

The boys returned with no tales to tell about their experience in the men’s room, so Savannah and I ventured in with no hesitation. This bathroom was pretty busy, but it appeared to be occupied by locals and not the tourists you might expect. Not that I cared but we were quick to discover that these were not “Americanized” Restrooms. Yes, there was quite an odor; presumably because the toilet tissue in these bathrooms was not to be flushed but was supposed to be deposited in a neat lined wicker basket in the stall. Okey Dokey. Of course it was apparent that many tourists HAD been in the bathroom earlier and had not followed this direction as many stalls were out of order and there was water all over the floor. You also flushed the toilet by pulling on a little chain. Very interesting.

We got in and out of there ASAP and headed up the elevator to brave the mall. We were very pleased to find the mall a completely different place. Mostly deserted, and there were no hawkers outside of the shops- NONE! We could actually browse in peace if we so desired. As much as we really did want to find some cute Mexican “tchotchkes” or even some handy antibiotics, we were too exhausted to bother looking. The kids did become enthralled with “flying” rubber bats (Brendan) and Butterflies (Savannah) on a wire at a kiosk, which we stopped to buy for them. When we inquired on the price the merchant said $5/each (yikes! In the US these things would be $1) but managed to barter down to $7 for both. We made our way back to the Magic with the sun setting and the dusk enveloping the now lit city of San Miguel.










Back onboard we soon realized we had missed our opportunity to see Twice Charmed, as it was already well after 7 PM. We cleaned up for dinner rather quickly and headed into the bustling Atrium. We found a charming Mariachi band serenading passengers from one of the overlooks:

(Click to Play)








Tonight was originally supposed to be Pirate Night, but due to the fact that we would be staying in port til 1AM we would now be having our regular rotational dinner in Animator’s Palate. We stopped in Shutters to locate and organize our photos and then it was already time to line up for dinner.

We were quickly seated at our table in AP, in the same undesirable location in the back of the restaurant directly underneath a serving station. Candice promptly brought us our drinks and we chit chatted about how we spent our day in Cozumel.





Animator’s Palate Menu was my absolute favorite when we took our first cruise in 2007, but it has slowly declined over the years (okay- year at this point, and the new menus are absolutely terrible IMO). My absolute favorite appetizer- the Mushroom Puff Pastry had already evolved into something entirely different; the Wild Mushrooms Risotto and Porcini Wafer. We both ordered this and hoped it would compare to what we were used to. While the mushroom risotto did retain the original mushroom flavor of the original puff pastry appetizer, the Porcini wafer was disappointing. It wasn’t a wafer at all but more like a mushy cornbread slab underneath the soupy risotto (had they run out of Porcini wafers and replaced it with a Polenta cake from the Roma tomato appetizer? I didn’t ask so we will never know!)
For salads we both chose the Confetti Tomato Salad (Confit tomatoes and bell peppers with olive oil, Jerez vinegar, and herb dressing). This was good enough, a very small portion as I recall and I believe it had lettuce making it seem more like a regular garden salad than just a tomato salad, but it was fine.
For entrees, the kids both had their usual Minnie’s Mini Burger and Fries. Again Ron & I mimicked each other by choosing the Filet with Seared Scallops and Port Wine Demi Glace. I used to really enjoy the fish shaped potato cake with seafood in it that they used to serve in Animator’s with the Filet, but sadly this was a menu casualty also and had been replaced with scallops. I don’t care for scallops unless they are fried, so I passed mine along to Ron. The filet was edible but nothing special and I recall I noted what appeared to be a decline in the quality of the meat. It was also served with mashed potatoes and crab meat which I had to scoop off. Ron’s recollection of this meal is that it was not memorable, and I think that is a fair description.
Our service was stellar as always and well paced (we like to eat fast and Candice and Jakob kept it flowing nicely). We were just digging into our delectable desserts (which ARE memorable- the sinful Chocolate Peanut Butter pie) as the lights dimmed for the show.
The light show in Animators was as we had remembered it. Although we had heard rumors of a huge multi-million dollar renovation of AP in dry dock, it was not noticeable to us. Maybe that meant it had been done, as we did observe that all of the LCD screens were working with crisp color, and that all of the bulbs and lights appeared to be functional. Candice did hint to us that the show on the Magic was better than on the Wonder, since there is a “Big Surprise”, which I immediately realized what that would be…

(Video- spoiler alert!)




We could hardly see a thing from our vantage point in the very back of the room. The kids got up and walked around the service station to watch while we devoured the pie. This pie was just amazing. Like a thick dense brownie with a hint of peanut butter and a smooth accompaniment of vanilla ice cream, it was a slice of sin on a plate. I am so sad to say the Chocolate Peanut Butter pie met its’ demise and has been excluded from the new menus (Mention this on your comment cards- I am!).

Sarah was long since asleep, and we decided to take a stroll along the deck to enjoy the unusual sights of nighttime in port:












As I gazed across the black water to the shining bright lights, I wondered how my cruisemates were faring at Carlos 'N Charlies. Where's the party indeed...not onboard the Magic, at least not tonight!


Back in our rooms, a pair of dangling monkeys with large towel grins and chocolate eyes greeted us, one in a swimsuit, one naked save for a pair of sunglasses)..




Yeah, I don’t know what this guy has been smokin’…



We got Sarah snuggled in her bed, and Savannah quickly fell asleep too. Night Owl Brendan was content to watch over the girls while watching some Zack and Cody on TV. We gave him a radio, told him where he could find us if he couldn't reach us on the radio and headed up to the Quiet Cove to relax.

It had been raining a bit ago, so deck 9 was cool, wet, and virtually empty. One hot tub had a group of folks inside but the pool and the other hot tub was vacant. We stripped down (to our suits of course! ) and jumped in the hot tub. It was a little too hot, but very relaxing. Needless to say, we didn’t want to get out but we eventually did and headed back down to bed, yet again exhausted.

Up next: License to Chill
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Last edited by nenner1; 07-18-2009 at 12:54 PM. Reason: The missing link!
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:41 PM   #292
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YOur Cozumel excursion over all sounded great, Except for poor Ron and the gas station but good for him on holding his ground. Maybe next time we will venture out on our own since I have my own translator and all LOL

hmm that dessert sounded great too, wonder why I never got it LOL. OH well too late, someone put it on your comment card so I can sample next time LOL.
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:49 PM   #293
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what a great update!!! Wow, I would have never known about the gas scam. I'm way to trusting!
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Old 07-18-2009, 02:20 PM   #294
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RIP- Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie!
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Old 08-06-2009, 04:33 PM   #295
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License To Chill

We awoke rather late on Thursday morning, enjoying the opportunity to sleep in and relax a bit after two busy port days. Today was our second-and final- sea day and we planned to relax and enjoy it to it’s’ fullest!
We dressed in our swimsuits and prepared to head first-not to breakfast but to the pool! The earlier you arrive at the Mickey pool the better and we had already overslept! Brendan had an activity in the Lab he wanted to get to, so while I got the girls ready, Ron took him for a quick bite to eat and then dropped him off at the Lab.

We headed up to deck 9 and grabbed a table while Savannah jumped in the pool. Right away she made a friend and the girls had fun going from the splash area to the pool and back again.








The deck and pool were rather empty considering it was already mid-morning.





A stop for breakfast!





The obligatory foot shot:



Beautiful Blue Seas



Then for the first time of many this day, the pool was closed due to the appearance of an UFO- unidentified floating object. Most of the kids that were displaced headed for the goofy pool, a few stayed behind to enjoy the toddler splash zone.
Sarah soon woke up from her morning nap and we took her in the splash area for the first time. She really liked it a lot!








How to make a baby burrito:



Brendan had joined back up with us after his time in the Lab. Now here’s a happy face!



The kids went back & forth between the pools all morning and afternoon. The Mickey pool was closed repeatedly- the plague of the UFO’s. The yellow-suited folks were really getting a workout today:




Savannah riles up the crowd as they await the 3rd or 4th grand re-opening of the afternoon:




Meanwhile Ron went for a walk up on Deck 10, and my cruise mate Val stopped by for a chat. Before too long we grabbed lunch, Ron from Topsider’s and me from Pluto’s:




I didn’t like the taco so much, but the chicken fingers never disappoint! Ron wasn’t too thrilled with the buffet offerings either. And he usually loves sushi, but he said it was “just OK”. They did have some decent desserts, a really yummy carrot cake!

When you’re on a cruise it’s OK to just eat french fries if that’s all you want!



A little after lunch, both kids had activities the go to in the Lab/Club so we dropped both of them off. We had tickets for the Galley Tour but Flounder’s was closed and Sarah was not allowed to go (over 18 and no exceptions). Ron decided to hang out with Sarah in the Promenade Lounge and watch the baseball game (it was the Rays so it must have been playoffs) while I attended the tour.

Unfortunately I had forgotten the camera and I thought I was late so I rushed to Lumiere’s not realizing they give several tours in a row and that I could have just joined the next one. As it ended up I was the last one to enter and missed most of the beginning speech the chefs give before entering the galley. It was hard to hear anyway as our guide chef spoke softly and had a thick accent. Our group was about 15-20 people and I was hopelessly stuck at the end.

As we moved into the sparkling clean-stainless-steel-everywhere galley the chef guiding our tour would stop at certain stations and explain procedures and show us examples. There was very little activity going on at that hour. One or two assistant chefs were preparing very large pots of something; vegetables or soup of some sort. The walkway through the galley was narrow so when the guise stopped we all bunched up behind him in a line. It was impossible for me to hear what he was saying and so I just enjoyed looking around at the scenery. My cruise mate Tiffany was actually at the front of the group behind us and she mentioned to me that she would share her pictures since I forgot my camera. I’m still waiting, girl!

We saw a beautiful wedding cake on the counter awaiting a wedding reception later in the day, and that was pretty much the highlight of the tour. We walked straight through from Lumiere’s and exited Parrot Cay, and as we left we were given chocolate chip cookies.

The tour was very quick, no longer than 15 minutes. And I highly advise trying to be towards the front of the group (stay left or toward the galley door when you enter the restaurant to join the group) so you can hear what is being said. I did feel like I missed a lot by not being able to hear. I totally recommending taking time out to see the tour though, I thought it was so neat to see the behind-the scenes workings of the ship! Besides, if it’s free, it’s for me.

I came out and met the boys in the Promenade Lounge. Brendan was back from his own opportunity as chef. (Got to love Disney and the magical pixie-dusted ovens that bake cookies in seconds!)



We had plenty of time to catch the final jackpot bingo that was just getting started in the Walt Disney Theater. We headed in and got seats, and I got in the line to buy cards. It turns out the amusing barefoot guy I was in line behind was our cruise mate Mike-hubby to Arin (our Secret Mickey family) we finally met! We had somehow managed to avoid each other all cruise and I was so glad we ran into each other! We exchanged greetings and hugs and then bought our cards. You could buy like 4 or so paper cards for like $20 (I don’t remember the prices exactly so these are rough estimates) or get the electronic machine that plays 40 cards for $69. I figured how could we not get the electronic card since it seemed like everyone was using those. I had won last time I played onboard and I expected to win again so I was totally going to do what I thought offered the best odds!

Sarah likes to gamble!



This time however did not prove to be as lucky. I only got to stand up once and certainly did not come very close to winning anything. Our cruise mate Melodie got to go up and check the balls, which was very cool. It is so much fun to see people you “know” from your meet thread all around the ship.
The big jackpot winner was surprisingly using a paper card! I admit the electronic machines are not as fun to play and even though they have the better odds, I will probably go back to traditional cards if I play onboard again.


Immediately after Bingo was the kid’s club graduation- Celebrate the Journey. And I do mean immediately, hordes of parents were already lined up outside the theater as we left. Savannah was already there, and we hightailed Brendan back up to meet the rest of the kids so he could participate. Meanwhile I took Sarah back to get ready (5:00 on semi-formal night isn’t exactly the best time to hold the graduation, IMO). Ron stayed to watch the ceremony.


My kids are in there somewhere:



Class of 2007 and 2008! And soon to be 2010!






Up Next: Bank of Bad Habits
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:50 PM   #296
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Yay for an update!!! I loved it!!!!!

We missed the galley tour this time so thank you for the advice!

Can't wait to see more pictures!
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Old 08-07-2009, 01:27 AM   #297
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we missed the galley tour also.. I believe we were beer tasting LOL.

You had great seats for the "graduation" too.

OH and SUSHI how did i miss that.. darn it oh well NEXT TIME i guess LOL.

Looks like yall had a great sea day.
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:28 AM   #298
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Yeah - another update. Sarah looks like she was having fun in the water!!
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:29 AM   #299
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Keep the updates coming! You're closing in on a year...
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:07 AM   #300
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Awesome trip report. I can't wait for the next update.
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