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Mini-TR Turns into Big Adventure


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So I brought my camera to BGW for the first time last weekend. Little did I know that the battery was low so I had to rush to as many different areas and squeeze as many pictures as I could into a short time frame. I managed to cover a decent portion of the park, but unfortunately for me, many of the pictures I took came out blurry.

 

Since I plan on bringing my camera to the park a lot more during the season, I decided to just cut this TR short and select my personal favorite shots I took.

 

No Verbolten pics this time. Other than a few details here and there (and the trains running), not much was going on there anyway.

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I planned on taking some V-bolt pics but I figured there weren't enough Mach pics to go around. I also snagged AC's train.

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I love how this park is so photogenic. Even in crappy weather.

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This bridge looks pretty nice from the old smoking area. I'm glad they opened it up to nonsmokers.

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Next up... Griffon tears up the sky. This would look so much better with the sun beating down.

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I bet you've never seen this shot before... :p The station looks great from the gift shop.

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Am I in a theme park or a street corner?

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Nessie and Griffon. You can spot Alpengeist if you look carefully enough

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I bet you've never seen this shot before ;)

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I tried to get a good shot of Mach/LNM, but the "battery low" message kept ruining it.

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I was originally gonna use this as my temporary FB banner, but the LNM loop shot won out. Thanks for reading!

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  • 4 weeks later...

So in April, my parents planned a last minute trip to someplace exotic. It was quite a drive that we took. The drive itself began Friday afternoon and we didn't really get to our destination until the next morning.

 

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The first South of the Border billboards appear. At one time these things covered this part of the highway. Since then, many of them have been taken down for different reasons.

 

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Its kind of a shame too since this road is pretty desolate. These signs are pretty much the only form of entertainment.

 

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This used to be the "Chili Today - Hot Tamale" billboard. According to Pedro's Facebook group, that sign is being rehabbed.

 

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Nice to see some more colorful billboards dotting the highway.

 

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Sun was setting when I took these. Apparently the wild mouse was gone when I drove past it (it was in pieces last year). I wonder who bought it?

 

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As tacky as this place is, it's definitely worth checking out at least once. We've actually stopped here three times (although two of those three were gas stops).

 

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Strangely enough, two of those three times, this place was dead. The other time, this place was packed with tourists. Crowds must be hit-miss around these parts.

 

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I did score a brochure from this place, but it looked like it hadn't been updated since the 80s. I hear some of the old motel rooms there didn't receive renovations so they look just like the picture in the brochure.

 

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Getting closer to the border. This place started in the 40s-50s as a little beer depot/gas station and has expanded ever since.

 

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We're about less than a mile from the border at this point. You could see the Sombrero Tower from here.

 

Unfortunately I missed South of the Border. We were going too fast to get a decent, non-blurry picture. Going deeper into South Carolina, we hit a massive hail storm which caused 95 to back up - since we were in the middle of nowhere with no place to stop, we decided to press on to Florida anyway. The hailstorm luckily passed up after a half hour, but turned into a massive downpour. Once that was pretty much finished my dad decided to break up the trip a bit by stopping at a few rest areas. it was a pretty long night regardless.

 

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So we made it to our destination, Port Everglades, at around 10 in the morning, getting a little lost along the way and stopping at McDonalds for breakfast.

 

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Tons of Dole crates everywhere, waiting to be unpacked.

 

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No we're (unfortunately) not going here.

 

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Oasis is taunting me. We're not going here either.

 

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The Klassy Kruze? Yes, we're going here.

 

There weren't any signs in the terminal pointing to where the parking garage was (a nice security guard directed us there). Plenty of other people were driving around in circles trying to find the garage throughout the day. A huge crowd gathered around the gates waiting for them to open (some of them arriving as early as 8 AM). That took about half an hour. We were also luckily among one of the first to get our bags checked. After that, we were guided to a waiting area where everyone was held for about 4 hours. Having done Karnival twice before (sailing out of Charleston both times), this didn't happen there. Not sure if this is a common occurrance, a Carnival occurrance, or just a Port Everglades thing.

 

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I'm already planning a nice RCCL cruise for next year.

 

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Still people arriving/waiting to get on.

 

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Looking toward Miami

 

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This is the atrium. I kinda preferred the Fantasy's a bit more because it felt more open, but I guess this one will do for now.

 

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So our sinking ship drill took at least 45 minutes to complete. We literally just stood there like this for a good chunk of that time. If the ship was sinking, we'd be screwed. Now I see why Costa's sinking was such a disaster.

 

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The better ships sailed out before we could. If only we could be on that ship.

 

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There was a sailing away party after that. Everyone danced the electric slide.

 

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The pool deck had a nice jumbotron that played movies, concerts, news, and tropical music. I actually think this is pretty cool. You can chill on a lounge chair and watch a movie. The ship also gave out popcorn for the late movies. I surprisingly didn't see many of those smokestack drinks onboard though.

 

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One last look at Port Everglades before we leave.

 

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The Celebrity ship sailed out before us too.

 

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Looking toward Miami. I'd love to spend a bit more time in Ft. Lauderdale. It seems like a really nice city. Maybe next time.

 

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Goodbye!

 

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One last look at Miami and Florida before we leave.

 

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Perfect shot to end the day. Sunset at sea.

 

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Showing the pool deck

This pool was actually bigger than the one on the Fantasy. The mini golf section also looked a bit better-made, but was on the highest point of the ship that you could walk on so it was always incredibly windy. Not to mention that it was tucked away from the main decks so it was a bit hard to find.

 

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The main atrium from the pool deck. Most of those floors are for passenger cabins.

 

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The main atrium from the inside. Third floor was shops, second was photos, and first was the bar/mini stage.

 

The ship itself was laid out similar to the Fantasy, so it was easy to get around. Problem was, nothing was connected so you really had to do a lot of walking to get around the ship. Also there aren't very many outdoor walkways like the Fantasy so you had to go to the pool deck or have a stateroom with a balcony. That said, the theming was cheesy in some places, not as much in others. Since I haven't gone on other cruise lines, I can't really compare Karnival to anything else.

 

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This was on the night of the huge moon. At sea, it looked really cool.

 

Thanks for reading

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Not much happened on the first/second day of the cruise. There were two nice stage shows that were different from the one they had on the Fantasy. Other than that, not much happened outside of a bit of sleeping, chilling on the pool deck, and the occasional game that involved winning a plastic trophy/medal.

 

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There was an ice carving on the pool deck.

 

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I most definitely saw this at least twice now. Hopefully the people on the other ships know how to carve other things.

 

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These guys were all over the ship, singing cover songs. I thought they were pretty good. They also played during the stage shows.

 

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The towel animals were pretty cool. Here's the lobster one we got on the first night.

 

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These guys were hanging out by the pool deck.

 

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So we landed in Grand Turk, which was a really nice port. We unfortunately didn't venture too far outside the port, but I have no problems with that because the port itself was beautiful. Maybe next time when we land here, we'll travel a bit further out.

 

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Dad, brother, mom walk off the ship.

 

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Biggest Duty Free shop I've seen. This thing was huge.

 

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Apparently Grand Turk is well known for cacti. They had these growing all over the port.

 

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Signature shot 1

 

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Signature shot 2

 

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I ventured outside the port a bit to find a few beach rental shacks/small bars.

 

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Some of these places give out free wifi too!

 

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Noted!

 

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Signature shot 3

Dad teaches Mom to swim.

 

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Wastin' away again.

 

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So my finger snuck its way into some of these shots. I'm kinda mad they turned out this way. I'll probably crop it out when I have the chance. I've been a bit lazy to do it though.

 

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No ugly brown LA haze. Just clear blue skies.

 

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This place had an upcharge Flowrider too. I didn't do it though.

 

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Thanks for reading!

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The adventure continues...

 

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I'm really annoyed that my finger got in the way of otherwise (IMO) good shots.

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Apparently a space capsule landed not too far from the island. There was a nice little exhibit to display cool facts and tidbits about the landing.

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One of many attempts to be all artsy fartsy.

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Less artsy shot of the rocket.

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Since a lot of people enjoy pictures of flowers, I decided to take a few.

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This side of the port was really quiet and tranquil. I really liked it here. Plus you got some amazing views.

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The beaches around this area were pretty rocky, but unlike Key West's rocky beaches (probably one of my least favorite beaches for that reason), these rocks were smoothed down and covered with sand so you could step on them.

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NO Mr. Sand Whale! The ship is not dinner.

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Going back to the port.

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The usual shops were here. Nothing too special to write home about.

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A view of the Flowrider machine.

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My brother. He didn't really swim that much on our beach days.

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Looks like a container ship being un-crated (if that's even a word).

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Family shot

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Noted

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One last photo op before we leave.

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Goodbye Grand Turk! It was definitely a lot of fun! Hopefully we'll get to see more of you on our next cruise.

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Almost sunset. We were eating dinner when the sun was actually setting so I couldn't get a good shot. We were headed to our next stop, the Dominican Republic.

 

Thanks for reading

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dominican Republic stop... The Dominican Republic pretty much looks like most of the other Caribbean islands I've been to. Beautiful, warm, many parts of the island dressed up for tourists while other places not so much. I noticed there were some really nice looking villas overlooking huge golf courses throughout the island.

 

The cool thing about this port was that we actually got to do a nice excursion. The cruise provided a tour for $45, but we decided to just scrap the tour and do a self-guided tour instead, saving us about $30. Not too bad really.

 

Altos de Chavon was apparently built in the 70s as a recreation of a traditional Mediterranean village. There's museums, gift shops, restaurants, and live entertainment. It's pretty cool to explore the little alleyways and shops scattered throughout the village. The architecture is impressive and you get quite a view of the surrounding area overlooking a river valley and a jungle.

 

Like the other ports of call, I went into stereotypical tourist mode and took a billion pictures. I've tried to narrow it down to the best ones.

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Landing in the Dominican Republic. You can see the huge *I think* cigar factory spewing out smoke.

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There was a baseball diamond near the port. The houses in the back are the fancy villas.

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The port didn't have much. Just a duty free shop and a bus stop.

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Cool-looking water craft

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Looking into La Romana

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Cool house on the water

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More factory shots. The cruise had tours going here, but we decided to do something else.

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They had these in Key West when I went

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The Klassy Kruise

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Bananas

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I think these are mangoes

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Altos de Chavon is beautiful

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Checking out the sights

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There are so many good photo ops in here

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The art gallery wasn't very big, but had some nice pottery inside

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One of the restaurants

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This is an actual church that still holds Mass every Sunday

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Look at this great view!

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You can see the golf courses and stuff in the distance. I'm pretty sure sunsets are amazing.

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Thanks for reading! The journey continues later

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's the last of the DR pictures. More to come....

 

I added captions to some of the pictures above. If you care to read them, feel free. Thanks for reading again!

 

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Even the parking lot in the back looks great. Some parks should take note about this (SFMM).There's a huge ampetheater around the corner where concerts are held.

 

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I love photogenic places like this.

 

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There are so many cool little back alleyways to explore. Just too bad the village itself isn't that big.

 

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Some actors came out and did dances/posed for photo ops.

 

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You could climb to the top of the church and get an even better view of the village.

 

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Inside the church.

 

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A random attempt at being artsy

 

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Close-ups of the local wildlife

 

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I keep thinking this is a donkey. Mule? Horse?

 

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Back at the port. We're going to Aruba next.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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  • 1 month later...

Aruba

 

Aruba was the biggest, most touristy island we visited on our cruise. Unfortunately because of that, we didn't get to explore much of the island. As our family usually does on these kinds of trips, we did lots and lots of walking (and not really going anywhere). It's too bad really because there was a really awesome bus thingy parked outside the cruise terminal that I hear is pretty cool.

 

There are malls and jewelery shops all over the right side of the terminal. To the left, an industrial area that looks kinda scary.

 

Overall, Aruba was the island I really wanted to explore the most, but didn't get to because we did more walking than necessary. Hopefully we'll get to spend more time down there in the future. It definitely looked really impressive sailing in.

 

We did one of the beaches close to the port. It was beautiful. Like always, it was better than Virginia Beach. I really feel like I've been spoiled.

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Coming into port. As you sailed into port, you could see the island's megaresorts and touristy stuff. Just too bad we didn't get to see it.

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The port itself was small. There was a huge duty free mall at the entrance.

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Huge mountain thing in the background

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That's actually an outdoor shopping mall.

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Goodbye for now Klassy Kruise

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The area near the port was lined with high end shops and t-shirt stores

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Bananas are awesome!

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Still bigger than Disneyland's castle, but about as well themed as a Chinese knockoff

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Raptors don't just open doors, they advocate delicious imported beers too.

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Still nicer than Atlantic City. And in a better climate too.

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Stay Klassy

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For all you flower enthusiasts

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At this point we're headed to the beach. We walked around some of the malls they had (there were malls everywhere) and through some of the touristy stuff that was available.

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Ships were docked outside the island. At night you could see them in the distance. Not really sure why they were parked out there. Maybe the port is too small?

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Random attempt at being artsy.

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This was a nice looking hotel/timeshare thingy.

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You could see some of the bigger resorts in the background.

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I like this shot.

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Closer look at the bigger resorts

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Heading back to the ship

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Perfect shot to end our trip to the beach

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There were some interesting sights on the way back. It almost looks like something out of a war zone, not a tropical paradise.

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An abandoned beach resort. I didn't expect to see something like this anywhere in my travels. I'm sure this place was quite the hotspot when it was open.

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The sign was warped from years of wear and tear. I wonder how long this place has been abandoned.

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The restaurant was covered with trees so you couldn't see much of it. I'd love to explore this place one day.

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The area past the hotel is largely industrial. It was kinda creepy walking by some of those boarded up buildings and huge water tanks. It almost felt like we ended up on the wrong side of town.

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Gotta love the towel animals. Overall, it was nice checking out the island, but Aruba seems like one of those places where you have to spend a week. We unfortunately boarded the ship early, which was kinda disappointing to me, but oh well. I hope to definitely return there in the future, whether on a cruise or flying in for a week. - Thanks for reading. Curacao is up next!

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  • 1 month later...

Curacao

 

Curacao was a pretty interesting port. The city was divided in two by a huge river with a high rise bridge crossing in the distance and a floating bridge in the downtown area. Like Aruba, I wish we did a lot more stuff here, but we decided to walk it out and save the excursions for a future vacation. The island itself while not as touristy as Aruba was, still seemed to have tons of stuff to do all over the place.

 

The main downtown area has lots of small shops scattered around narrow walking paths, so at least this port was more walking-friendly. All the buildings themselves are designed to look and feel European (at least that's what I gathered). You had to take a bus to do all the beaches though.

 

We basically walked the downtown area checking out the small shops, then headed to the other side to check out the hotels. The entrance to the port is actually a huge resort overlooking the harbor and an old fort that's been repurposed as a place with restaurants and small gift shops.

 

The sky was overcast for much of the day, so I couldn't get great shots.

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The island seems like it's got power plants and factories scattered all over the place.

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Looking toward downtown

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Not sure what this is. I think it's a government building. The town's city hall/governor's palace sits in front.

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Welcome to Curacao

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Me and my mom looking toward the port.

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This seems like a pretty industrial island. I don't think I've ever seen an island with this many power plants/factories in view before.

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I think this is some sort of oil drilling/refining area

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Like the other islands I've visited, Curacao really knows how to dress a place up for tourists.

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Stay Klassy

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I'm sure these pics would've turned out better if the sun was out.

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Rest in peace

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There was a tour group inside, explaining the history of the fort.

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The entrance to the fort from downtown

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The floating bridge thing was actually pretty cool. It takes about 15 minutes to unhook the bridge from the port and drag it across the canal so boats can pass through.

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Two bridges in one!

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Construction junk or art?

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The downtown area looks pretty cool.

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I guess you could say this is a pretty charming city.

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Every building is virtually a different color. It's like walking through a rainbow.

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I kinda regret not going back into the town to take more pictures later in the day.

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This city sure loves its colors.

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More to come soon. I'll be sure to get to the theme park stuff later too! Thanks for reading!

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A few more shots to end the day.

 

We spent half our time at port touring the downtown are and the other half checking out the hotel side. The Marriott hotel that acted as the gateway to the port was really nice. The other hotels? Not as much, but at least they were colorful.

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I love these small public squares. They look pretty nice.

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Signature shot

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Looking toward the terminal

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The governor's palace

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A better shot of the terminal

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Toward the hotels side of the waterway

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This was one of those combination hotel/casino type places. It looked nice from a distance, but as you got closer, you could easily tell this was an old building. The casino on the inside wasn't the nicest place in the world either.

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HoJo's made it down here too.

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Dad in front of a statue

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There was a little flea market set up on the hotels side of the waterway where you could buy the typical Caribbean stuff.

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The sun's starting to break out. It was still fairly cloudy, though. Like I said before, I wish we spent a little more time at port.

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Thanks so much for reading. Coming soon... Klassy Kruise home and Busch Gardens Tampa

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