Last year at BlogHer11 in San Diego, there was a session called "Boomer Bloggers" and seriously, it called my name. I was born in 1956, so I am smack dab in the middle of the Baby Boomer generation. For those of you who don't know, or haven't heard of us, we are the Baby Boomer generation, we were born between 1946 and 1964. We are now a huge segment of the population.  

 
The funniest thing about attending the Boomer session last year was the TV outside the room stating that this was the classroom for "Elder Bloggers". I chuckled to myself and probably said a few words out loud about my sudden entrance to elderhood.  
 
The meeting itself was an awakening for me.  I realized that there were quite a few of us, women and men, who blog.  We are also consumers, and I can definitely see a shift in advertising targeting us Elders.  We have opinions, and advertisers want to hear from us. 
 
The Boomer meeting was also the brainchild for Anne-Marie Kovacs and Chris Bradshaw to create BOOMbox Network, a place for baby boomers to network and connect.  
 
I'm proud to be a member of this group of wonderful ladies.  When I attended BlogHer12 in NYC a few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a party just for us boomers.  I must say I was thrilled to be invited!  However, I am extremely shy in person and I didn't do enough networking while I was there.  I'm disappointed in myself for being so backward when I had the opportunity to meet sponsors and possibly attract more paid writing.  I love it when I get paid to give my opinion!  
 
The party was wonderful and Anne-Marie was a gracious hostess. She is just a lovely woman.  But because I was alone, I felt strange.  Everyone seemed to be with someone there, except me.  I did have a ticket for hubby to attend, but he said no at the last minute.  So I didn't stay long.  While I was there, I did my best to thrust out my hand proclaiming "Hi, I'm Karen Sandoval" and handing out my cards to other bloggers.  
 
But soon the shyness consumed me and I found Anne-Marie and told her that I needed to head back to the Hilton.  She gave me a hug and a few jars of delicious brittle to take back to hubby.  
 
Thanks so much Anne-Marie and Chris.   

Underwear Man

On the cab ride to the party, we passed Underwear Guy.  The cabdriver pointed him out to me.  I've seen him on TV a few times and it was exciting to get his photo! 

FDNY 24

 I'm not sure how I got my times messed up but I arrived a half hour early. That gave me time to walk around a bit and take some photographs. The party was held at OffSite Parties, halfway between 5th and 6th avenue in New York. This firetruck was parked a few buildings up from the party.

 

Since I had some time to kill, I walked around the block and snapped a few photos. 

Early for the Party

I also had time to go into Lord & Taylor and find a souvenir. If you know me, you know what that might be, right?  

Souvenir From NYC

Michael and I were texting, I was a little unsettled about being alone in New York City, and I got some security knowing he was actively communicating with me.  When I told him I was at Lord & Taylor, he told me to buy a purse.  This is the photo I sent him, and yep, this is my NYC souvenir purse. Lately I've had a thing for Michael Kors, mainly because the logo is MK (Michael Karen). Michael approves, he likes the MK thing too

 

Fifth Ave, NYC

I must say I had a wonderful time, before during and after the BOOMbox party. 

 

I love NYC!   

 

When I was in NYC for BlogHer12, the first session I attended  was an off-site program put on by Adorama called "Blographer". I am a photoblogger, although I use this term loosely to describe my blog.  I don't write about photography, rather I showcase a photo or two (or ten) in my blogs. This session called to me, as I want to be a better photoblogger and was very interested in learning new ideas.  

1st Annual Blographer

 

I'm a long time customer of Adorama, and I was excited when I opened the email from them about the first annual Blographer. At the time I signed up, I had never heard the term "outboarding" and I did not see the harm in attending as it was scheduled on Thursday: Pathfinder and Healthminder day at BlogHer, neither of which I had planned on attending. (I'm sorry Elisa and Lisa, next year I will attend Pathfinder, I promise).
 
All that being said, I am glad I decided to attend this session. The classroom was well appointed with tables and chairs and Adorama also provided refreshments in the morning and a wonderful lunch in the afternoon.
 
I didn't balk at the price for this session, the fee was minimal at 69 dollars for me and 30 dollars for a guest. My guest was probably the only man attending Blographer, but hubby is a good sport and came with me. Once we got settled and started, Joel announced that he would be refunding the fees we paid for the course. That was a nice gesture, and much appreciated. Thanks!
 
The sessions were given by women photobloggers and were chock full of great information. In the beginning of the session, I was typing like crazy trying to log all the excellent information given to us. And then I realized that I could just take photos of the powerpoint presentations and be able to refer back to them later. Ah, technology. 

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Hopefully next year Adorama can be an official sponsor of BlogHer and have a class like this at the convention. There are a ton of people who would really love this course! (and I won't feel guilty for attending a non sponsored class!)
 
I want to thank Joel Meisels and Adorama for putting on this wonderful class for bloggers. Even though it wasn't an official BlogHer event, I did enjoy the learning experience.  
 
Thanks so much Adorama
 
    
 

A few weeks ago, I did a video interview with Pepper Schwartz for Replens.  Truthfully, it is probably a few months ago.  I've had a very hectic, busy and wonderful summer and I have been putting off posting this follow up to our interview for various reasons, mainly time constraints and a bit of self imposed pressure.  


Laura Giardina asked me to come up with a few questions to ask Pepper about menopause related issues that women face, and what to do and how to feel once you go from that stage of young vitality into menopause.  If you remember, I put this out to you, my readers, a while back, to help me with questions you might have for her.  And you came up with wonderful questions.  
 
My most pressing question was: "how do you still feel sexy when you're going through menopause?"  When I look in the mirror I don't see the same person that I saw just yesterday wasn't it just yesterday when I was in my 20's and 30s? Now I see an old lady looking back at at me who resembles my grandmother!
 
Pepper told me that although we can't turn back the clock, we can strive to be the best we can be at whatever age we are at. This was such a very profound statement, and has led me to more self acceptance since I spoke to her. 
 
Here is my interview with her.  
 
Replens can help us have the confidence that everything is right "down there". Because as we know, the more you worry about your response and sexuality, the harder it is to achieve intimacy. 

Replens helps to put your fears to rest. 
 
Are you interested in finding your sexuality confidence?  We would love to send you a  box of Replens and a copy of Pepper's book "Prime".  Please email me at karenlsandoval@gmail if you are interested.  The first five requests will be filled  

And remember, you can't reverse aging, but you can still feel sexy and confident whatever age you are. 

For more information on Replens, please visit their website and Facebook page

Replens Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/replens 
 

Replens web site: 
www.replens.com 
 

Replens® Ask the Expert 
 Have an intimate question but you’re not sure where to turn? Submit your question ANONYMOUSLY to Replens® and it could be answered by a leading sex & relationships expert. Some of the answers will be posted on the Replens® Facebook page. Be sure to stay connected with Replens® on Facebook so you can see if your question is answered. Visit www.facebook.com/Replens and click on the “Ask the Expert” tab to submit your question.

 
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☮Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman. -- Marian Anderson  
 

When did I become such a sissy? I've been fearless mostly all of my life, until recently.  Last night was the Perseid Meteor shower and I was afraid to go outside alone. Hubby was sleeping. So I just laid in bed wishing I had the courage.  

 
We live in the middle of nowhere, our back yard butts up to a nature preserve. There are neighbors on the left and the right of us, but spaced fairly far apart which is cool because we are not right on top of each other.
 
A few weeks ago, hubby and I were in the living room watching tv, at about 10:30 BANG BANG BANG hammering pounding at the front door. Immediately, my limbs turned into jello and I couldn't move, other than the shaking from the fear. Who would be pounding on our door at 10:30pm? 
 
Hubby called the cops and told them what happened and they came to patrol the subdivision. That calmed my nerves, knowing that the police were driving around.  
 
Then just the other night, ding dong at 10:30. Who the heck is ringing our bell at 10:30 pm? Same thing happened, I turned to mush as hubby went to investigate.  No one was there either time. Maybe it's the neighborhood kids playing? 
 
So hubby called ADT, and we are going to have a security system installed. One with a camera that works with my iPad and so I can see who is at my door. 
 
Maybe I watch too much Investigation Discovery and Walking Dead. I know for sure we are toast if zombies find our house. We have floor to ceiling windows everywhere. Thank goodness that the ADT comes with a glass break alarm.
 

                  Security System

                  Killer Shih Tzu
Now I just have to train the dogs how to jump high enough to eat zombie brains.     

                                    Watchdog

                                    Zombie Protection

 

Make that one ten and an eight please.  Here are my yay's and nay's from BlogHer12.  

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Things I loved about BlogHer12

  1. The hugs.  
  2. POTUS, Martha, Katie, Soledad, VOTY
  3. Elisa and Lisa knowing who I was
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The Poise Comedy Show
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Having hubby along
 
Meeting my lady friends from Chatter
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The incredible leaning unicorn cake at Sparklecorn
Someone said she fell over
Having the Em's stick people along to help me break the ice
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Sitting on the floor with Nikki outside Social Fiesta and catching up
She Broke Her Phone
 
Seeing "underwear man" in NYC
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Things I Loathed
  1. The elevator situation
  2. The food at the VOTY reception
  3. 26 dollar chicken burger in the lobby bar (how would I like that done?  cooked please)
  4. Noise level in the Grand Ballroom during Speed Dating
  5. The cattiness (just one incident, that was enough)
  6. The lady who pushed her way past me in the food line at Social Fiesta 
  7. The cab driver who charged us 70.00 from Laguardia to the Hilton
  8.  Saying goodbye 
 
How about you?  What did you love?  What did you loath? 
 

Ouch holy cow ouch.  I burnt my tongue the other day on coffee (what else?) and I'm just not liking the healing process.  If I eat it hurts.  This could be good for weight loss.  Ha.  No thanks.  

 
Have you ever done it?  If I had been by the sink when I took that sip I would have quick spit it out but I wasn't.  I figure I can tough it out and it's going to cool to mouth temperature soon, right?  Well sure it cooled down enough to swallow and good thing I didn't try to really tough it out and swallow it right away because my throat would be burnt too.  This sucks!  
 
So I've been googling around on the net looking for quick remedies for a burnt tongue.  Advice I've read includes, suck on ice, drink lots of milk (it'll coat the burn) eat ice cream (dang we don't have any) and be patient, it will heal.  
 
Any day now please.  Aye carumba!  Anyone got any home remedies for tongue burn? 

Big Bend Fire Company

 

I could do without them if you took them away from me, but I wouldn't be happy.  Here they are, my can't won't give up.  Ever.  Unless there is no power, then I'm kind of screwed.  haha

 

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1. Electric Can Opener.  It took me a while to come on board with this as I never saw cranking a can open with a hand can opener was a big deal.  Hubby bought this when I came home from the hospital after my spine was fused.  I'm not sure why I didn't want one before!  I never have any problems opening any can and it sure saves my hands.

 

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2.  Keurig Coffee Maker.  I know this isn't the cheapest way to make coffee, but I love having a selection of coffee in the morning.  There is nothing that tastes as good as that first fresh cup of coffee in the morning.  I love being able to have that experience with each cup.

 

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3.  Nespresso Aeroccino Plus.  This is a recent addition to my small kitchen appliance arsenal.  It came as part of a set when I bought my Nespresso C100 on Amazon.  I love that I can add skim milk foam to all my coffee drinks.  I just drop a few stevia flavor drops into the milk before I turn it on to froth and I have a nice sweet skim foam on top.  Another great feature of this frother is that it will either heat your milk up when it foams, or you can hold the button for 2 seconds and you will get a nice thick cold foam for those cappuccino fredo's I love.

 

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4.  Nespresso C100 Espresso Maker I ordered this after being spoiled rotten in Europe on good espresso, real espresso.  I love the bright gem colored capsules all lined up in my Discovery Box (sold separately when you join the Nespresso Club).  

 

And now, drumroll please, my Favorite New Appliance:

 

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5.  Broan Trash Compactor. I don't know how we lived with out this.  Michael and I make a lot of trash, mainly due to my shopping addiction.  (I swear I'm not a hoarder).  Anyway, one afternoon hubby suggested we go to the casino, and I retorted with "let's buy a trash compactor instead" and he said "sure!".  I ordered it on Overstock and it was delivered to my door for 1.95 shipping!  We had an electrical outlet installed at the end of our breakfast bar and Viola, I have more flat surfaces to put things on.  Not really, I'm just kidding.  

 

This trash compactor is amazing.  All of our trash, from all the rooms in our house, for an entire seven day week, fit into just one trash compactor bag.  It has a deodorizer disk inside of it that does a wonderful job of controlling odors.  Although I haven't been throwing stinky stuff other than banana peels into it.  In one week, we fill one small garbage bag.  It's amazing.  I feel like I am reducing my carbon footprint.  Now if only we had one for the Amazon boxes that arrive just about daily (my bad).  

 

So there you have it.  My five don't want to ever live without appliances.  What are yours?

 

On disembarkation day, we checked into the Pullman in Barcelona, dealt with Michael's lost bag (it was found) and just hung out in the hotel room until dinner.  So on Saturday, we were both antsy to get out and explore the city.

 

Barcelona

We asked the concierge if he could give some recommendations on a guided tour we could take, and he recommended the Barcelona Bus Hop on Hop off tour.  It had 2 separate routes, a green line and a red line.  The cost to do this was 24.95 euros each, and we got to use the bus all day long.
 

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Beautiful Crazy Curved Place in Barcelona

 

When you enter, you pay your money and the bus tender hands you a map and a pair of red earphones.  Either beside or under each seat is a headphone jack, and multiple choices of language.  My first seat on the very crowded bus was on the very back row, smack in between 2 families.  There was no way for me to bend down and insert my headphone jack.  I just couldn't do it.  Then on the first stop, I stood up and plugged it in while I could see it, and the bus took off again before I could hit the "English" button.
 

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Colorful Way to Hide Construction

 

So I listened to the first 10 minutes of the tour listening to Italian.  Finally after 2 stops, most all of the people hopped off, and hubby and I were able to sit together, and find the "English" setting of the guided tour.  We rode the red line bus to all it's stops, not getting off.  Once the sites started getting interested, we went upstairs to the top deck of the bus and started snapping away at the beautiful and diverse architecture of Barcelona.
 

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Barcelona

 

You'll notice mostly the top part of the buildings of Barcelona, that was our view.  When we came to the end of the red line, we jumped off in the shopping district of the city and I had my cappuccino fredo of the day, and Michael had his local beer.
 

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Pit Stop and Cappuccino Fredo Refueling restaurant 

 

I asked for the bathroom, and was sent downstairs.  Again with the sketchy bathroom instructions… I had to pee so bad and I just entered the first toilet I saw.  I knew I was in the wrong place right away, from the slipperiness of the floor (boys) but by then I was already peeing and just praying that no men came in while I was there.  No, I didn't see any urinals.  My eyes were trained for a toilet.  This isn't the first time I've accidentally used the men's room in Europe.  I'd done that in Germany in 1978… thinking the H on the door stood for Her, but actually it stood for Herren, which was "men" in Germany.  Oh well, messed up and used the wrong toilet in Spain too.  
 

Manchos

Cafe

 

After we were done with our drinks, we decided to walk around the city a bit and go on the "great purse hunt".  This time hubby was very proactive and was trying so hard to find me something I'd like.  But nothing really called me.  That helped me decide I'd just wait till I got home and order something from Zappo's as a souvenir of the trip.  It wasn't that we didn't try!  However, we did not cross the street to the designer strip of handbag stores.  I just won't shell out for a Gucci or a Prada.  My purse habit is bad enough without lusting after bags that cost more than a small car.  
 

Someday, Honey

He can dream!

 

Karen

No Purses in here

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Burger King in Barcelona

 

So after walking around a bit, we hopped the green line bus and saw the rest of the Bacelona tour.  I was starting to burn from riding on the top of the double decker bus and it was hot, so I grabbed my stuff and headed down for the first floor in the AC and stayed there for the remainder of the trip.  I almost lost a hat up top, but someone brought it down with them and handed it to the bus tender and I said it's mine, oops, thanks!  
 

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Steeple

 

The second part, the green bus line, got very tiring.  We were on the buses from 10 am until 4:30 that day.  Our butts and ears were tired.  And we were starving.  
 

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Building

 

We stopped at Monchos for dinner.  I was a little nervous there, the restaurant had a lot of middle eastern people both working and eating, ladies with scarves pulled carefully up to their lower lashes unless they were eating.  And when I went to the bathroom (downstairs again) I passed a green room where I saw someone sleeping on cardboard on the floor.  I'm not afraid to say the whole middle east thing freaks me out. 
 

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my dinner at Moncho's

 

I wish I had taken a photo of the lady next to me, because she was beautiful.  But I figured since she had to be covered, she wouldn't want her photo taken.  Kind of like the Amish who think photographs steal their soul.  But I don't know because I don't understand.  It just breaks my heart that women are still oppressed.  
 
We ended the day, rearranging our suitcases for the flight home, and just relaxing.  I read a few books on vacation, Jodi Picoult's House Rules (very good 5 stars) and Fifty Shades Darker.  Don't waste your time on the 50 shades books.  Seriously, this comes from someone who did.  

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So much beautiful architecture 

 

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On Sunday, the porter called us a cab.  Not just any cab would do, it had to be one that held ALL OUR LUGGAGE (never again).   You know you have too many things packed when you need a special cab.  Most European cars are small.  
 
Back to the cab ride.  Our driver was driving 110k's per hour, tail-gating and texting on the freeway to the airport.  I was certain we were going to die, and begged hubby to ask him to stop texting.  He did, but the driver pretended he didn't understand English.  After a few moments he did stop texting, and we did arrive at the Barcelona airport unscathed, except for our nerves.  
 
The flight home was long, but it seemed to go faster than on the way to Venice at the beginning of our trip.  The dogs were really glad to see us, and it felt so good to sleep in our own bed that night.  Monday we just laid around trying to get over our jet lag.  We made ourselves stay up until 9pm both Sunday and Monday night, and by Tuesday we were feeling back to normal.  
 
And that folks, is all she wrote!  
 

Our instructions were to tag our bags with the tags they provided with the instruction sheet, and put them outside of our room before 2am.  I was a little nervous about putting the bags in the hallway, but not for the reasons you may think.  The ship was so pristine, I didn't want to be the first to put our bags out and clutter up the hallway.

Last port of call

the port of Barcelona

 
We were the first to put bags out.  Hubby wrestled with the bags and the door shutting on him which I really didn't realize until he came back in and said "you could have helped by holding the door".  I told him I didn't realize he was having a rough time.  But he got them out and we were all packed except what we were wearing to disembark and on with our vacation.  We were spending 2 days in Barcelona!
 

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pristine hallway of the 8th floor

 

But first, disembarkation.  The ship kindly put all of our bags through customs, and the suitcases were in the port waiting for us, we had pink tags on our bags.  Once again, we were faced with "how the heck are we going to get all these bags out of the port".  
 
Luckily a porter showed up with a cart and loaded us up.  He spoke very little English, but hubby managed to communicate with him via American dollars and he stayed with us until we finally got hailed a cab that was big enough to fit all our luggage.  The entire shipload of people were in the taxi line, we were somewhere in the middle, but it seemed like forever until it was our turn.  And it was hot.  I didn't take any photos of the port of Barcelona, or the big taxi line of people.  I should have.  
 

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Once we arrived at the Pullman Skipper Barcelona, we were relieved to find out we could possibly check into our room a little early.  While we were waiting, we went to the little bistro cafe/bar in the hotel lobby, and I had my cappuccino Fredo and Michael had a Spanish beer.  

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cappuccino fredo of the day

 
The hotel manager had told us to go walk down to the beach, it was just a block away, but by now we knew that one block equaled 10 blocks in Europe, so we just hung around in the lobby.  We didn't wait for long, our room was ready before noon. 
 

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waiting to get our room at the Pullman Skipper

 

We started unpacking what we needed for our 2 day stay in Barcelona.  The night before, I had packed all my dress clothes and shoes and everything that I wouldn't need until we got home in one suitcase, and casual clothes that I would need into the other.  I was busy putting stuff in drawers and closets when Michael realized we had forgotten one of his bags.
 

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worlds tiniest tube of toothpaste

 

I told him, no worries, it had the pink tag on it with our name address and phone number along with the name and phone number of the hotel we were staying at so we'd be able to locate it fairly easily.  

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our view over the Sea at the Pullman Skipper

 
He rushed down to the front desk and asked for help.  Here is where the language barrier wasn't a good thing.  So, he hailed a cab and headed back to the port where we were dropped off in Barcelona.  He knew which area we came out of because our ship was still there, already loading up the next cruise load of people.  They found his bag and he came back to the Pullman Skipper and we just hung around the room for the day. 
 

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little restaurant in the Pullman Skipper

 

Michael booked us a new seminar, this time in Vegas!  (and someone is NOT gambling…she's going shopping with the gambling money!)
 
I wish I had taken more photos of disembarkation!  After he was finished making arrangements for Vegas, we took a walk to the beach and had dinner in a cool little restaurant that served an awesome cheese plate.  

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cheese plate, yum!

 

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I'll have a side of Rocket please.  wth?

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a performer on the beach walkway (is it a boardwalk if it's tiles?)

 

Tomorrow we tour Barcelona!  
 
 

We had 2 sea days while we were on this 12 day romance cruise.  Both those days Michael was in class for the morning, so those mornings I slept in, and read and drank coffee.  The last day, I pulled my suitcases out and started packing everything I wasn't going to use after tomorrow morning.  

 

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The Silk Den

Cruising was so much fun.  Having our own private stewards was so nice.  I really got spoiled getting high tea delivered every day. The laundry service was fantastic and everyone working onboard the ms. Nieuw Amsterdam just loved what they did, they were always smiling and going out of their way to help us.
 

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The first few days we were aboard, the stewards were really aggressive with the Purell. I guess the cruise industry has figured out that this is the best way to fight fast moving disease, and I appreciated their diligence with this.  You didn't have a choice, you just did it.
 

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I was glad that we had muster before we set sail the first day, I was glad to know that those who refused to participate in muster were ejected from the ship.  Everyone needs to know where to go and what to do in case of emergency.
 

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notes to self for next cruise: 
Never book shore excursions separate from your boat.  The ship does not wait long for you before they take off without you, and it's your responsibility to get to the next port to meet the ship.  
 

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You don't need to bring much cash.  The ATM machines in Europe and on the cruise ship give you Euros, but you can use a credit card almost anywhere you go.  Find out exactly how many formal nights you are going to have and only bring that many formal outfits.  You don't need so many pairs of shoes.  
 

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Never again with more luggage than I can handle on my own.  We each had 2 large suitcases and 2 carry ons.  Getting home through customs in New York was a nightmare, trying to get all the suitcases through was just a major pain in the butt.  We paid 5 dollars for a smart cart we used for 5 minutes.  Don't overpack!  
 

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Keep the papers the ship gives you daily so you can refer to them when you get home. You won't remember everything about your tours, and these are good memory joggers. Keep the tour maps too.  

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Let the boat take as many photos of you as possible.  The packages they offer are expensive, but you'll be glad you have them later.  And if you buy either the large or supersize, you get every photo they take of you.  Great memories that started before we entered the ship. 

 

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The last night, Dr. Jay had a get together for all the dentists that came on the cruise that took his classes up topside in the Silk Den.  It was an interesting place and all the photographs are from there.  It was there we held the silly souvenir contest.  

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The entries were, a rock, a donkey,a seashell whistle, a rubber chicken, a ring holder, kumquat liquor and a tower of Pisa shot glass.  Yes, it leans.  I'm not sure how our 2 headed donkey didn't beat the whistle, but we didn't even place.  The rubber chicken was a close second.  There are things in that red bag on the table that can't be shown in front of the kids that were there, so they were disqualified.  It was fun, but I got distracted trying to catch some memories of that part of the ship.  The views were magnificent.  

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Flower of the day

 

Tomorrow, disembarkment day, lost luggage and our first day in Barcelona.  

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Last sunset from our Verandah porch

 
 
 
 
 
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