California Coastal

We have finally finished our weeks of short California cruising!  It turns out four-day cruises are much harder than seven-day cruises, since you have fewer days off and you start to lose track of time in general.  (It’s very unsettling for me not to know what day of the week it is.)

We are currently en route to Hawaii, a fifteen-day trip that involves four straight days at sea the first week and five straight days at sea the second.  Fortunately, we’ve got plenty to distract us: the exciting and slightly overwhelming experience of learning a whole new production show – on a boat!  I’ll blog about that next time (teaser: theatre games are involved, just like college!), but first I wanted to share a few photos from our last Catalina Island trip, for which my brother sailed with us.

In these weeks, we dropped anchor off the harbor of Catalina Island a total of three times.  The first time was with my mom, who came sailing with us, and we pretty much just walked around, absorbing the adorable town of Avalon (yes, it IS the city after which the jazz standard is named!) and eating ice cream at a cute little shop called Scoops.  I highly recommend both the gelato and the ice cream.  So many flavors!  The second time we went to Catalina, I had a short list of errands to do, and that pretty much occupied the whole morning.  Then since it was so yucky hot, I went back to the ship and relaxed in my room.  Very boring, I know.

Well, this time, I was determined to do something cool, as a last hurrah of sorts.  I’d played with the idea of parasailing, but Brian wasn’t too keen on the price (as a fellow freelancer, I can commiserate), so we decided just to walk around the island and let inspiration strike in its own time.

Catalina5On one of the other singers’ recommendation, we went past the casino (NOT the gambling kind, pictured above) to a little private beach village called Descanto, where there was apparently the most amazing ice cream ever at a place called Fresh.  (I will always eat ice cream.)  It was a sweet and quiet little area, with relaxing island music playing and a very low tourist presence, given its distance from the main drag of Avalon.  Here’s a look back towards the beach, with our ship in the background.

Catalina1For the record, the ice cream was, in fact, amazing.  Just as good as Scoops!  Try both if/when you’re there – you won’t regret it.

Then, as Brian and I walked back leisurely towards the ship, we decided to investigate bike rentals.  To our delight, the price was oh-so-very right, and they gave us a good map with a handful of routes we could take.  Naturally, we choose one of the hardest ones, because how hard could a hill be on such a little island?  And off we went.

It was a gorgeous day – not too hot, clear blue skies, and sparkling ocean in front of us.  However, that glorious sunshine, combined with tiny little “Mount” Ada (seriously, it’s just a hill), pretty much destroyed us on the way up.  Here are some very somber shots capturing our focus and fortitude.

Catalina2Eventually, with many, many stops along the way and no shortage of comments about how out of shape we were, we made it to the top.  (Along with four golf carts that had zipped up past us gleefully.)  Jubilation commenced:

Catalina3Seriously, though, it was a really beautiful view.

Catalina4And we really, really enjoyed the biking.  There’s such a satisfaction in driving on the open road with a simple vehicle and the wind through your hair (that is, on the ride back down the hill, hehe).  I gave away my bike after living in New York City for several months, because it could only be stored in our entryway, wedged halfway up the walls.  (Definitely the world’s worst wall décor.)  I’d forgotten how much I could miss my bike and the feeling of freedom, of empowerment, of movement that comes with it.  Also, it reminded me of childhood, because we four kids jumped on our bikes and rode circles around the cul-de-sac a LOT growing up.  It still doesn’t make sense to have one in our apartment, but one day, when we get a real house, you’d better believe a bike will be high on my acquisition list.

 

We finished off the day by sunbathing on the front deck of the ship (the crew pool area – much quieter than the passenger ones).  It was a bit silly to expect any results, given that we were both caked in SPF-50, but it was a lovely day just to sit in the sun and swim lazily around the pool.

The next day was in the “beautiful” Mexican city of Ensenada.   Honestly, there’s not much to say about Ensenada, other than “It’s in Mexico!”  However, there is a small seafood shack/stand/tent called Yiyo’s Mariscos, right on the beach, that alone makes the trip worth it.  I give you, tostada de camarron (a.k.a. lunch):

Ensenada3Not only are the folks who work there nice, friendly, and thoughtful hosts, the food is absolutely amazing.  I never thought I was a ceviche kind of girl, but apparently in Ensenada, I am.  The ceviche was made fresh as we sat there (they even did a batch without cilantro for me), and the flavor was bursting.  They also have these tasty bottled drinks called WaterFruit, in flavors of horchata, cucumber (with bits of cucumber in it, so refreshing!), lime, and something red called Jamaica which I have no idea what that might taste like.  And my whole meal was $5.  I’m sure the Mexican Riviera will have more to offer, but Yiyo’s Mariscos is my favorite part of Mexico so far.

Ensenada2
Mexico, folks. With brothers and lunch.

So that was what these California Coast Getaway cruises were like – short, sweet, and quite sunny.  I did have one other noteworthy day that I plan on blogging, but I’m waiting for the photos, since I hadn’t brought my camera that day.  So stay tuned!  More to come.

Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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