After our visit to Maker’s Mark, Kathy & I drove to Lebanon, KY for some lunch. Lebanon also happens to be the home of Limestone Branch Distillery, another of our favorites. It was on the way back to our motel and it was open, so of course we needed to stop. And tour. And taste. And buy! 😉
Limestone Branch likes to say that they are currently the only distillery owned and operated by someone named Beam. Stephen & Paul Beam opened Limestone Branch in 2012, and while the distillery is fairly new in bourbon terms, they are producing some old-timey bourbon using old-timey recipes. The distillery traces its roots back to Jacob Beam in 1795, is best known for producing Yellowstone bourbon from the original mash bill. Yes, the bourbon is named after the National Park. And while it is not affiliated with the TV series, they are not minding the free publicity. 😉
The place is not very big, and there are no picturesque acres of rickhouses on the property like the big boys, but what they lack in size they make up for in enthusiasm.
We don’t usually get too excited about Cozumel, because we have been there a number of times and have done most of the touristy things. We don’t go to the beach, so that leaves out a lot of activities.
On this recent cruise, Cozumel ended up being our only stop, so we decided to at least get off the ship and have a drink or two. Thanks to The Google, I located a bar and restaurant called The Thirsty Cougar which was a short walk from the cruise dock.
My usual Mexican libation is a Paloma instead of the traditional Margarita. A Paloma is made with tequila and grapefruit soda, and I like the combination. The Thirsty Cougar also does an awesome Margarita, as I was assured by our friends who sampled some. They also do a mean Nacho platter!
When visiting Cozumel on a Norwegian ship, it docks in the downtown area where a lot of the restaurants are. Many of the other lines dock at a different terminal about 3 miles away. There are restaurants there, too. But in my mind The Thirsty Cougar might just be worth the taxi fare! 🙂
Our most recent cruise was a 5 night cruise on Norwegian Prima, a nearly new ship for Norwegian Cruise Lines. We went with friends who live in Florida and are also our travel agents. They were there for a travel agency soiree, so they were “working” while we were having fun.
We only visited one port – Cozumel – since our second port stop was cancelled due to high seas and strong winds. So here are just a few random photos from the ship. It was a great time and a beautiful new ship, although being around all those travel agents is contagious!
Everywhere we go, people are in a hurry. They blast down the highway like they are a doctor late for a baby delivery (probably not), they slam down the first drink to get to the next (possibly precipitating the previous?), rush through dinner to get off to something else (with indigestion). But for what? To just rush on to the next thing? Sheesh! How about taking the time to enjoy each experience, each moment?
Kathy & I recently came across this article that was shared by a local writer. ‘and then?’ references someone wanting to watch a movie or listen to a podcast at 2X speed because it was “too slow.” Apparently listening to music at 2X speed is a thing on TikTok. I especially liked the statement that “The whole attitude seems to be: Let me get through this thing I don’t especially enjoy so I can do another thing just like it, which I won’t enjoy either.” That doesn’t seem like much of a way to live, if you ask me.
Just this morning I was looking at the New York Times website and saw a link that said “The Year In Pictures – 3 Minute Read” I thought, wow, only 3 minutes? It is nearly 150 pictures (I counted but lost my place once or twice – distracted by the photos). Paging through the article without even slowing down to look at the pictures took almost 3 minutes! And yes I understand that the “3 Minutes” was probably automagically calculated based on the amount of text in the article, likely not counting the photo captions, but still. I haven’t gone back through it yet but expect that it might take me 30 minutes.
When we travel, Kathy & I enjoy taking back roads, even if it adds an hour or two to the trip. Coming home from our recent trip to Florida, we could have made it home in a freeway-filled 9 hours, but instead chose to break it up into two days, 6 hours the first and about 5 the second. All but the last 100 or so miles were on roads that pass through small towns, past interesting scenery and occasionally a new “roadside find.” Once we got onto I-77 in Columbia, it was like stepping into a cement mixer! It was nice to get home, but I often equate the freeway experience to a cross section of society. Most people go along doing their own thing, but there are always those few who either aren’t completely involved with the task of driving or are convinced that there is a prize for getting somewhere at light speed. We made it home safely, and mostly relaxed, which was the most important thing!
After our Constellation cruise we headed home by way of Ponte Vedra, FL to meet up with John Linn and his wife Linda, who live nearby. On the way we made a stop at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area of Ocala National Forest. It was an interesting place, with mineral springs that you could swim in (we didn’t) and lots of greenery. We met John and Linda at Bird Island Park in Ponte Vedra before going to their home then having a lovely dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant. It was nice to meet another long-time “online friend,” if only for a few hours. But Ponte Vedra is on the way to lots of places down that way, so it’s likely we’ll be in the area again!
We’re off again. Back to Florida to visit different friends, hop on another cruise ship with them for a few days, then slide back into town just in time for Christmas! Good thing our shopping is done…. 😉
On the island of St. Martin, it had been a few years since we took the time to visit the capital of Philipsburg, so we took the water taxi from the cruise port and spent a few hours there. While the buildings show a hint of old Dutch architecture. we find that most of the businesses are bars, jewelry stores run by non-St. Martians, and hotels. Go to the beach or shop is about it. Or take pictures. 🙂
St. Martin is best experienced on an island tour with an experienced guide, a trip to a nice beach or a lunch at a restaurant on the French side. We have done this many times in the past and it is a much better time! We just didn’t want to do it this time.
St. Kitts is another of those islands we’ve been to numerous times, and more often than not choose to stay on or close to the ship instead of trudging around the island with the rest of the tourists. This is another place where we got off the ship long enough to stretch our legs, visit a store we wanted to go to, and take a few photos. It’s easy to spend an hour or so then get back to the ship before all the pool chairs are claimed! 😉
I find the island of St. Thomas to be one of those places that has been spoiled by its own success. That is to say, a beautiful place that has been over-populated, over-commercialized and over-developed, to the point where it is little more than a shopping place with beaches. I know that sounds mean, but like a lot of places what made it famous and desirable ain’t there any more.
We got off the ship long enough to walk around the immediate port area long enough to stretch our legs and get a few steps. I did manage to take a few photos, which are fun but nothing especially interesting. Probably not tourist photos, at least not all of them!
I promised a story and some more photos from San Juan, so here goes. We were leaving the ship to walk through town, and when we passed one of the other piers, there was a delegation of Coast Guard officers and “local officials” standing on the sidewalk near the entrance to the pier. There were several photographers standing there, evidently press photographers due to their each carrying several cameras with various focal length lenses.
I asked one of the photographers what was going on. He said that there is a “bouquet” coming in shortly and that the officers were there to meet it. I eventually realized that the word he was trying to translate was “barque,” which is a term for a type of sailing ship.
Turns out, in just a few minutes we saw the masts of a ship sailing around the point past the Coast Guard base. It was the Juan Bautista Cambiaso, a 3-masted barquentine schooner and training ship for the navy of the Dominican Republic, along with a small tender boat that was accompanying it. The ship was manned by cadets of the DR Navy, many of whom were spread atop the rigging, waving and singing as the boat entered the harbor. It was quite a sight (and sound)!
Because there are so many cruise ships sailing these days, the cruise lines have been looking for more places to stop. And because cruise passengers like to spend money in ports, more and more countries have been trying to attract cruise ships. In some cases, ports are being “invented” where there haven’t previously been cruise ports. Often, these ports are being developed in conjunction with, and most likely significant investment from, the major cruise lines. One of these is Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic.
We visited the Dominican Republic once previously, on a Carnival ship that docked in Amber Cove, which is another recently developed port just up the coast from Puerto Plata. Amber Cove is frequented by ships in the Carnival family, namely Carnival, Princess and Holland America. We did an island tour on that cruise, so we had seen most of what we wanted to see. Highlight for me was a visit to the Brugal rum distillery, but since I can buy their products at home, we didn’t think a follow up visit was needed. 😉
The port area in Puerto Plata is called Taino Bay, and it contains the requisite spending opportunities. Taino Bay is still in the development stages, but there are plenty of shops, many of which offer locally made crafts and other wares. We picked up a couple of souvenirs, but mostly used it as a way to get off the ship, stretch our legs and take a few photos.
What I enjoyed most about Puerto Plata was that the shop owners and workers were very polite. They seemed happy to see us and were not pushy or aggressive like in other ports. It was a welcome change, and I hope it stays that way!