The first stop on our Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit was the island nation of Barbados. Twenty one miles long by 14 miles wide, Barbados is home to nearly 300,000 people if there are not ships in town. Our ship was one of about five docked there that day, meaning the population on the island grew by more than 10,000 for a short time. Talking to the locals, that’s pretty normal for this time of year.

Meghan was happy to show off this Welcome to Barbados sign at the port.

Meghan was happy to show off this Welcome to Barbados sign at the port.

Having never been to Barbados, we booked an excursion called “Best of Barbados” through Celebrity Cruises that would take us around the island to see some of the highlights of the tropical wonderland. Our ship was parked right up front meaning that we didn’t have to walk as far as folks on other ships (a good thing when the ships park front to back and are over 1,000 feet long) so we were able to walk right up through the terminal to where the buses are parked for the excursions. We found our bus, got on, and sat down. Sort of. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a seat with such a small amount of legroom.

As you can see from this picture, leg room was quite limited on the tour bus we took around Barbados. Steve is 6'4" and could barely fit his legs into the seat.

As you can see from this picture, leg room was quite limited on the tour bus we took around Barbados. Steve is 6’4″ and could barely fit his legs into the seat.

The tiny amount of legroom was a small price to pay, however, in order to see the wonderful sights on Barbados. We drove for about 30 minutes while our guide explained some of the history of the island and its sugar industry as we headed toward our first stop: St. John’s Parish Church.

St. John's Parish Church in Barbados

St. John’s Parish Church in Barbados

The first church was built on this site in the 1600’s, with the present-day church completed in the early 1800’s. The church is high on a hill with some amazing views around it.

The views from the back of the church were absolutely stunning - even on a cloudy day.

The views from the back of the church were absolutely stunning – even on a cloudy day.

Behind the church is a graveyard that dates back to the first church building.

The cemetery at St. John's Parish.

The cemetery at St. John’s Parish.

There was a wall around the cemetery, presumably because people are just dying to get in, which, if you saw the incredible view, you’d understand why. From St. Johns, we folded ourselves back onto the bus and headed toward our favorite stop of the day, Orchid World.

We had a great tour through Orchid World where we learned about all of the plants and birds there.

We had a great tour through Orchid World where we learned about all of the plants and birds there.

Once there, our guide led us down a beautiful path and shared with us examples of local plant life. We learned about plants like the Traveler’s Palm and how early travelers knew they could find drinkable water in it.

This Ravenala plant is often called the Traveller's Palm because it can be bent to produce water for weary travelers.

This Ravenala plant is often called the Traveller’s Palm because it can be bent to produce water for weary travelers.

Notice the bottom left stem of the green plant where it is broken off. This is likely where gardeners cut the plant to get a drink.

Notice the bottom left stem of the green plant where it is broken off. This is likely where gardeners cut the plant to get a drink.

We also walked through structures that held hundreds of beautiful orchids. This took a while because people kept taking pictures–and if you look at some of the photos Ann took, you can see why.

The flowers at Orchid World were just beautiful.

The flowers at Orchid World were just beautiful.

The exposed root systems from the orchid plants were so interesting. Personally, I have never been able to keep them alive.

The exposed root systems from the orchid plants were so interesting. Personally, I have never been able to keep them alive.

Our Barbados journey had a third stop, (I lived for any opportunity to get off the bus and stretch my legs) a signal station that was largely unremarkable save for the amazing vista over the countryside and ocean from the tower where the soldiers stood to pass messages around the island using a series of flags. Beautiful view, but when it started to sprinkle, we were happy to get back on the bus (until it was time to sit down, anyway) and head back to the port.

Back in port, we stuck our noses in a few of the shops, found a postcard, a stamp, and dropped it in the mail.

mailing postcard

We wandered back out toward the ship, reminiscing about all the wonderful things we’d seen that day. We were glad to be on vacation, in a new place, and seeing new things. The trip was still young–this was the first of five ports of call–and we were looking forward to exploring more sites in the days to come. Next stop — St. Lucia.

Have you been to any islands in the Caribbean? What was your favorite? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

  • One of our favorite stops on our hosted food tour of @visitkansascityks was the @403club. Sure, they offer a great selection of locally crafted and larger production domestic beers. But they also have pinball machines. In fact, they even have a pinball league.⁣
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We spent about an hour in this fun spot, sipping, playing, and enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. It will definitely be on our list of places to go again, someday. Beer and pinball are a pretty good mix.
  • On our visit to Italy, we visited the Prosecco region. While we toured a number of wineries, we actually stayed at an inn run by the Roccat winery. ⁣
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Prosecco is a sparkling wine, and people often see it as intergangeable with champagne. This isn't the case at all. Champagne is made from the Chardonnay grape, while Prosecco comes from Glara. Because of this, the two wines are completely different.⁣
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We enjoyed a tasting at Roccat, where they served us glasses of crisp, clear, delicious wine alongside some crunchy breadsticks that were just the right thing to enjoy with the wine.⁣
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If you ever have the opportunity to go to Italy, make sure you include time to head to Valdobbiandene and try some Prosecco.
  • Located in @clearlakeiowa, the historic Surf Ballroom has hosted some of the biggest names in music. It was on this stage that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson performed their final show on February 3, 1959. After the concert, they boarded a plane for their next town on their tour. That plane crashed shortly after takeoff, and the date has been remembered ever since as "the day the music died."⁣
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@traveliowa
  • Set in Millennium Park in Chicago is one of the city's most iconic art installations. It's a giant, shiny bean which reflects everything in sight. It's fun to walk around (and under) the bean and see how the shape distorts what it reflects.⁣
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Folks come from all over to see this art installation and take it in. Children love running around it and gazing into it, not realizing they are learning about convex and concave shapes. ⁣
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Standing here you'll hear a multitude of languages and see people from all walks of life there to enjoy the art. And that's why we love public art so much--it brings people together.
  • On our cruise from Italy to Greece, we made a stop in Mykonos. There, we had the chance to take part in a Greek cooking class in a woman's home learning from her.⁣
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We spent an afternoon with lessons about Greek cuisine, and how they waste nothing, not even excess juice from a cucumber. We also saw how to make incredible dishes like this spanakopita, or spinach pie. Sitting in her dining room, enjoying the light, flaky crust and delicious filling is an experience we won't soon forget. ⁣
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While traveling, we try to find opportunities to experience local culture. It's amazing how similar people in the world really are if you just take some time to see what life is like.
  • Do you remember that song from "The Music Man" about trouble? You know the one about the kids in the knickerbockers, shirt-tail young ones, peekin' in the pool hall window after school. ⁣
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Well, we got to peek in a replica of that pool hall on a recent visit to The Music Man Square on our hosted to Mason City, Iowa. It's the town where "The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson was born and raised and his legacy lives on. ⁣
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Before you go see @thehughjackman and @suttonlenore in this Broadway favorite, consider a visit to the real River City.⁣
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Click on the link in our bio to see our latest blog post about why fans of "The Music Man" need to visit Mason City, Iowa. ⁣
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@themusicmanbway
  • When we heard that there was a community garden in Clear Lake, Iowa, we figured we'd stop and check it out. We've seen small town community gardens before, and were expecting a few flower patches, some paving stones, and maybe a bench or two. After all, it was built and is maintained by volunteers in a small Iowa town. ⁣
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What we found, though, was simply astounding! First, the entire garden had been designed beautifully; a small stream even meandered through the gardens, pausing in small lily-filled pools before continuing on its path. But the flowers took the cake. So many varieties, each more beautiful than the last. And the entire space had been planned out to take advantage of the spring, summer, and autumn species. ⁣
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if you enjoy gardens, put the Central Gardens of North Iowa on your list of places to visit.
  • Calmar, Iowa, near Decorah, is home to Pivo Brewery and Blepta Studios. There you'll find high quality craft beers, in a relaxed, fun environment. Upstairs from the taproom are the studios, where you can try your hand at art while sipping your beer.

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