Archive | October 2012

Treats From Around The World

I don’t like tricks much at all, but I certainly like treats! Today, I will share some virtual treats with you, and I hope you will enjoy them.

Treats from USA: I love chocolate, so here is a picture of a great chocolate factory that produces terrific chocolate.  Enjoy!

Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, San Francisco, CA

Treats from Italy: I love tea, but can’t produce any great pictures of tea, and since I also love cappuccino, here is one for you (let’s pretend this picture was taken in Italy, but it really was taken in England). Enjoy!

Cappuccino – Harrod’s, London

Treats from England: This is a picture that was taken by my son Luca, and he won a prize for it at his school in a photography competition.  I am so proud of him!  I know that a lot of kids the world over will be eating this type of candy on Halloween. Enjoy!

Harrods of London Candy Shop

Treats from India: Okay, so this next one….I didn’t go to India to take the picture, I took it closer to home in Artesia, CA (close to Los Angeles), but still….these are sweets of India, and they’re delicious! Enjoy!

Sweets of India

I can’t share any more treats with you, as I think that’s enough treats for one day.  Also, as I looked through my pictures, I couldn’t help but think that I should have taken more pictures of food from my travels around the world, why didn’t I take pictures of fish and chips when I lived in England, or pasta when I was in Italy, or Indian food when I was in India a long time ago, or even a picture of any type of food in Jamaica?  That could be a reminder for us all – you never know when you might need those pictures or the virtual treats.  Enjoy your treats everyone!

Happy Diwali and Happy Holidays from Balboa Park!

Happy Diwali, and Happy Holidays from Balboa Park!  The holidays are just around the corner, and this is surely a happy time for everyone!  I love the holidays, and I especially love Christmas (the picture below was actually taken in San Diego Zoo, which is adjacent to Balboa Park).

Christmas in San Diego – San Diego Zoo

I also love Diwali, which is the Indian Festival of Lights celebrated by Indians of all different faiths, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and many others.  Diwali falls on a different day each year, but that day will be either in October or November of the year.  This year, Diwali will be on November 13th, but it was celebrated on October 21st at Balboa Park.

Diwali is a colorful festival, and it’s significance is rooted in several epics and stories. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and is celebrated with lights, especially candles and diyas.  People rejoice in the occasion, and have parties, and there is definitely a lot of Indian sweets being sold and consumed at this time.  If you would like to know more about Diwali, you can read this article: or  To read more about this year’s Diwali Celebration and an article where San Diego Mayor Proclaims “Festival Of Lights” Day, click here:

Here is a picture of the Indian sweets (they are delicious).

Ambala Sweets and Snacks, Artesia

Here’s some pictures taken at the 5th Annual Diwali Celebration at Balboa Park.  All the performances were held at the beautiful Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

Diwali Celebration, Balboa Park, San Diego

The night begin with the Indian National Anthem, and I have enclosed my video of this – now you will get to see a little more of the Organ Pavilion too.

Here is my video that shows a variety of performances that depict the many regions of India, therefore, you will see dances from Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Rajasthan, etc.  You may be amazed to see there are so many variations of dance styles according to the region of India that the dance is from.

Here is my video of just one performance to show you a dance in its entirety, and this is the Rajasthan Dance.

These are some pictures of the performances

Diwali Celebration, Balboa Park, San Diego

Diwali Celebration, Balboa Park, San Diego

Diwali Celebration, Balboa Park, San Diego

This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but this is when the Diwali Lights were on display, and it was a beautiful scene.  All the women on the stage were holding trays with candles – Balboa Park was truly lit up!

Diwali Lights Ceremony, Balboa Park, San Diego

In addition to the Annual Diwali Celebration where many Indian dances were performed, Indian dances are also performed during the December Nights outside the Houses of Hospitality at the International Cottages.

December Nights, Indian Dance, San Diego

Here’s some pictures taken at December Nights, 2011.  I will of course be taking more pictures at this year’s December Nights (I wouldn’t miss it)!

December Nights - Balboa Park, San Diego

December Nights – Balboa Park, San Diego

December Nights, Balboa Park, San Diego

It does get a little chilly in the evening during the December Nights celebration, so you will definitely want to wear a sweater or a jacket.  There is plenty of food on sale, including stalls selling food from all around the world, close to the Houses of Hospitality, and practically all over the park.  If you are in the mood for fine dining, then you might want to check out the Prado on the Park Restaurant.

Prado On The Park, Balboa Park, San Diego

Here are more pictures of Balboa Park (all three pictures were taken a number of years ago, and were scanned in).  It will definitely be time to take more pictures soon of Balboa Park!

Balboa Park, San Diego

Balboa Park, San Diego

This one was taken at the Botanical Gardens in Balboa Park

You may know or have heard of Balboa Park in beautiful San Diego…..if not, you need to visit it soon as it is a fantastic place to visit.  This park is adjacent to the world famous San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park is so much more… is highly cultural.  It houses the International Cottages where you can visit the House of Scotland, the House of England, the House of Russia, etc., and try a sample of food that comes from that region.  However, when it comes to the holidays, such as Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) and Christmas (now called December Nights instead of Christmas on the Prado) – there is no better place than Balboa Park to celebrate in style!  Not only can you enjoy a world class park in a world class city, but you can enjoy world class cultural arts and entertainment.

You can read much more about December Nights at and at

Looking for something fun to do this holiday?  Why not come to San Diego, and come to our December Nights….it will be hosted on two different days: Friday, December 7 and Saturday, December 8, 2012.  This is a fun event for all the family, and highly entertaining!  Kick off the holidays in style!

Get Into The Splendor!

Get into the Splendor – the Carnival Splendor!   The Carnival Splendor is a beautiful ship, in fact it is splendid!  Some quick facts: it first sailed in 2008; it holds approximately 3000 people; it has a number of swimming pools; and it has the only Indian restaurant I’ve ever seen on a ship – the Tandoor.  Quite simply put: it has all the splendor you would need on a cruise vacation.  I’m not going to go into all the details of the Splendor, and my cruise on it, but you can take a look at a write-up I did directly after the July, 2011 cruise – my review of the Carnival Splendor.   Here are some pictures:

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Splendor

Adults Only Swimming Pool – Carnival Splendor

Main Swimming Pool – Carnival Splendor

Main Swimming Pool – Carnival Splendor

Drinks Service – Carnival Splendor

Outdoor Movie Theatre – Carnival Splendor

Kids Splash Area – Carnival Splendor

Kids Pool – Carnival Splendor

Waterslide – Carnival Splendor

Waterslide & Kids Pool – Carnival Splendor

Waterslide – Carnival Splendor

Carnival Splendor lobby

Gold Pearl Dining Room – Carnival Splendor

Gold Pearl Dining Room – Carnival Splendor

That’s me in the Black Pearl Dining Room

Black Pearl Dining Room

That’s me in the Lido Dining Room

Lido Dining Room – Carnival Splendor

Lido Dining Room – Carnival Splendor

The Coffee Shop – Carnival Splendor

Elevators – Carnival Splendor

The Lobby – Carnival Splendor

Lobby Bar – Carnival Splendor

Cabin – Carnival Splendor

Cabin – Carnival Splendor

Thalassotherapy Pool – Cloud 9 Spa – Carnival Splendor

Spa – Carnival Splendor

Spa – Carnival Splendor

Gym – Carnival Splendor

Spectacular Lounge – Carnival Splendor

Robusto Bar – Carnival Splendor

If you want to stay connected while you’re on your cruise, it is an extra cost (not included unfortunately) – just go visit The Web, which is the name of the Internet Lounge.

The Web – Carnival Splendor

El Morocco Lounge – Carnival Splendor

The El Morocco Lounge is so beautiful, that I just had to include another photo

El Morocco Lounge – Carnival Splendor

Bollywood dance lesson time, and even my little Chandi (in the pink dress) got into the groove, and she was just 20 months old at the time!

El Morocco Lounge – Carnival Splendor

Here Chandi is with two of the UCSD Zor dancers

El Morocco Lounge – Carnival Splendor

UCSD Zor – one of the top Bollywood dance teams in the nation entertained my group – the Bindi Group – this time with Bhangra!

UCSD Zor – Red Carpet Disco – Carnival Splendor

We had Indian food most nights on the cruise in the Gold Pearl Dining Room, here’s a look at just one night’s dishes:

Indian Food – Gold Pearl Dining Room – Carnival Splendor

Did you know that there’s an Indian place on the Lido Deck called the Tandoor where they serve Indian food every day at lunch time?  Here’s just a little of what’s on the menu:

Tandoor – Carnival Splendor

I just have to share with you some of the wonderful food that I put on my plate from the Tandoor!

Indian Food from Tandoor – Carnival Splendor

Here’s a look at some other food that was served on the Splendor:


If you want to work off all that food with a swim in the evening, this is what it looks like by the pool at night time:

Main Swimming Pool At Night – Carnival Splendor

Or if you want to just kick back and try your luck in the Casino

Casino – Carnival Splendor

This is where your little ones will be entertained

Camp Carnival – Carnival Splendor

Don’t forget, there’s always ways to have some good family time with activities such as miniature golf

Miniature Golf – Carnival Splendor

Miniature Golf – Carnival Splendor

Now for one last day time pool picture

Carnival Splendor

If you are wondering what the address is for where you can catch your cruise at Long Beach Cruise Terminal, it’s right in this next picture:

Long Beach, CA – Carnival Cruise Terminal

I also recently made another video, and since my pictures are no longer on my blog at (it got redirected to my CruiseOne website), that is why I have put some of them here, and on my video.  I had spent so much time putting my pictures on my blog, but now they’re all gone.  Anyway, that is why I started this blog (Why I Started A Blog In The First Place?)

Here is my newest cruise video of the Carnival Splendor:

This is different to my ship inspection video of the Carnival Splendor that I did prior to taking the July, 2011 cruise to Mexico.

I hope you like my pictures, and my videos of the Carnival Splendor.  Remember, life can be full of splendor, you just have to look for it…….just get into the Splendor, and you may find what you are looking for – a wonderful vacation!

It’s CLIA’s National Cruise Vacation Week!

For all of you who like good deals, whether it’s reduced deposits, onboard credits, reduced fares, cash back, upgrades, or onboard savings booklets… event is coming up that you really ought to know about!  This is an incredible week for booking the best cruise vacation deals ever!  When?  October 21 – October 27, 2012.  Why?  It’s CLIA’s National Cruise Vacation Week.  CLIA is Cruise Lines International Association, and it is the world’s largest cruise association (of which I am a member).

How about signing up for my free weekly newsletter which is an eSaver, and then you’ll be one step ahead of being apprised of all the latest deals.  To sign up simply send me an email to , and write Subscribe in the subject line.  I’ll be happy to sign you up, or you can sign up at my website at by inputting your email and zipcode in the green box on the right hand side that is titled “Sign Up for Exclusive Offers and Discounts”, then don’t forget to press Join.

First to clarify what some of the terms above are in plain English:

Reduced deposits – who wants to pay the full deposit, when you could pay half only?  You may only have to pay $100 or $200 per cabin.  Remember, the ability to pay a deposit instead of paying in full can only occur if you book way before your cruise – at least 60 days before or more.  If you book within 60 days of the cruise, you will have to make full payment.  It’s better to book early, and to have reserved your cabin with a deposit than it is to book too close to the cruise date (your desired cabin may not be available).   Paying reduced deposits is a DEAL!

Onboard credits (OBC)  – this is free spending money that you can use to pay for your mandatory gratuities, telephone calls, internet charges, specialty restaurant charges, alcohol and/or other bar purchases, etc.  These onboard credits will vary depending on what type of cabin you book.  You will get more of a higher OBC for booking a balcony cabin or a suite than you will for booking an interior cabin.  You could get an OBC from $50 to $300 per cabin (perhaps less or maybe even more) – this is a DEAL!

Reduced fares – this is your week to get special savings, as fares could be significantly discounted – this is a DEAL!

Cash back – this could be in the form of an OBC or cash back to your credit card, not sure on this, but if you call me – I will find out for you – this is a DEAL!

Upgrades – normally, you only get upgraded within the type of cabin type you book.  So booking an interior does not give you an upgrade to an ocean view, but to a better category interior.  However, this week is your lucky week where you can get upgraded from interior to ocean view or ocean view to balcony (based upon cruise line availability and cruise line specific offering of this promotion) – this is a DEAL!

Onboard saving booklets – these will come in handy when you wish to save on internet fees, or get a discount in the gift shop (you just might find a coupon in the booklet) or if you are interested in purchasing one of the professional pictures taken by the cruise line photographers – this is a DEAL!

Sorry for using the word “deal” so much, but it really is a great DEAL!  So, please visit my website now at or contact me at and let me know where you want to go to, how many people per cabin, what type of cabin (interior, ocean view or balcony), and it would be helpful if you could let me know if you have ever cruised before.  Please also tell me if you have a preference for a particular cruise line.  I am registered with all the cruise lines, and can book you on any cruise line that you choose.

Which cruise line you choose, and which particular ship within that cruise line’s offerings, will depend on which itinerary appeals to you, and whether you have a particular affinity to one cruise line over another.  These are just some of the ones you can choose from (I have personally been on all these ships):

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Splendor

Carnival Spirit in San Diego

Oceania Cruise Lines

Oceania Marina

MSC Cruise Lines

MSC Musica

Princess Cruise Lines

Golden Princess Cabin

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Radiance Of The Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment Of The Seas

Cunard Cruise Lines

Cunard’s Queen Victoria

These are some of my ship inspection videos or a video that I made to help you see what it’s like on a cruise ship, this may help you decide which cruise line you wish to pick:

My ship inspection of the Carnival Splendor: 

My ship inspection of the Oceania Marina: 

My ship inspection of the Golden Princess: 

My ship inspection of the Oasis Of The Seas: 

My ship inspection of the Carnival Spirit: 

My ship inspection of the Queen Victoria: 

My cruise video of the Radiance Of The Seas: 

My cruise video of the Enchantment Of The Seas: 

Unfortunately, I did not make a video of the MSC Musica, I took that cruise way before I became a travel agent in late 2010, early 2011, and really got into video taping my holidays.  I’ve always enjoyed photography, but videography is something I really just got into in the last few years.

These links might also help you to make an informed choice on cruising, as this is definitely one of the best ways to travel:

Top 10 Reasons To Cruise and Frequently Asked Questions About Cruising

If you have any other questions…….please don’t hesitate to call me.  I’d be happy to hear from you!

Don’t forget, it’s better for you to book with a travel agent, because you know who to go back to each time you have questions, and you won’t get a different person answering the phone each time you call.  There are various other reasons as to why you should book with a travel agent.  So, please pick up the phone and call 858-427-4972 now……..I really want to hear my phone ringing off the hook during the National Cruise Vacation Week, and even before then.  Thank you, and I look forward to booking you on your best vacation ever!

Incredible San Diego – La Jolla

I felt the need to explore today, and have just a bit of “me” time.  The kids were at school, so instead of being cooped up with the computer, I figured some fresh air and reacquaintance with San Diego was on the list.  I headed for La Jolla which is only about a fifteen minutes drive north from downtown San Diego.

By the way, La Jolla is not pronounced with a “J” like in jolly, rather it is pronounced “La Hoya”.  Want to hear the pronunciation in Spanish?  Just click on the speaker button when the Google Translate page opens.  Want to hear the pronunciation in Finnish? – I was inspired to add these two links, courtesy of Matti from Finland (see comment below).  Thanks, Matti.

This is what I saw, and photographed with my I-Phone (not the camera of choice), but this had been a spontaneous trip, and was not planned, so I apologize if the pictures are fuzzy.

La Jolla Cove – San Diego

La Jolla Beach, San Diego

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

La Jolla Cove, San Diego

Even the sea lions love La Jolla.  We have plenty of them, as well as seals, but I think these are sea lions:

Sea Lions, La Jolla Cove – San Diego

La Jolla, San Diego

Tropical San Diego

Tropical San Diego – La Jolla

La Jolla, San Diego

The sky seems so beautiful and blue, but all these pictures were taken on the same day, and I never touch up my pictures.

La Jolla, San Diego

I like flowers by the ocean, so picturesque!

La Jolla, San Diego

Want to see what yesterday morning was like?  It wasn’t that nice weather-wise, it was drizzling slightly, and the skies were grey, but something spectacular appeared in the sky – a full rainbow!  I have never seen such a big rainbow, I was overjoyed.  Again, I only had my I-Phone, and could not capture the entire rainbow from left to right – it was way too big!  Actually, this picture did not come out nice, it was nicer seeing the rainbow in person, and was a completely different experience.

Full Rainbow – San Diego – Solana Beach

This picture taken in La Jolla today seems to have a faint shadow of a rainbow, but I don’t think there was one in the sky at the time I was taking these pictures, although I did see another rainbow again earlier today, but not like yesterday’s.

La Jolla, San Diego

The weather has turned a little cooler now in San Diego, but it’s still beautiful during the day.  We finally got our morning and evening breeze back, but as always – when we have it back, we wish we had the heat back.  Still, San Diego is Paradise on earth, and after seeing it again today – I think there’s no better place.

This is an addition to the post:  Look at the picture I just added (below).  This is La Jolla Cove, and was taken in approximately October of 1996 (before I moved to San Diego – while on holiday).  I just found this picture, and compared it against Image 3088 which is picture 7 (above) – just to make sure it was La Jolla, and not one of the many other beaches around the world.  You will see that it is the same place, even if the quality of the pictures is very different – this new addition was taken with an older camera, which was not a digital camera (not sure which camera – probably Olympus), and hence I scanned it onto my computer.  I wonder if you notice any real changes other than image quality and color?  Anyway, enjoy this “new” picture too.

La Jolla Cove, San Diego – 1996

Here are both pictures of La Jolla Cove closer together.


My Video – Leaving Hamilton By Ferry To Go Back To The Cruise Ship

In this video that I made, you will see Hamilton as viewed from onboard the ferry that we took back to the cruise ship.  I don’t like my voice at all in this video, but decided to just go ahead and leave it in.  Sometimes, I use Garage Band to do an introduction to my video, but this time I left it all natural – my voice as it was on that day.  Isn’t it funny how we often don’t like to hear our own voices whether it’s on the telephone answering machine, or on video?

Hamilton is very picturesque.  I hope you enjoy the video!

Hamilton, Bermuda

Hamilton Ferry Terminal, Bermuda


My Video – Enchantment Of The Seas to Bermuda – Hamilton (Part One)

Hamilton, Bermuda is a very colorful place.  You will marvel at all the colors – be it the colors of the homes or of the businesses in downtown Hamilton.  In my video that I made just two days ago, you will see our taxi driver and hear an authentic Bermudian accent, and you will see as we go past the Clock Tower Mall in Kings Wharf.  Then you’ll see Gibbs Lighthouse, as well as many colorful Bermudian buildings and homes along the way.  You will then see downtown Hamilton, and the Hamilton Ferry Building.

Hamilton, Bermuda

Thank you for watching my video, and please don’t forget to press “like” on You Tube – if you like it!  I would appreciate it.

Happy Day Of The Girl

Today is a fabulous day, it is the first International Day Of the Girl!  October 11, 2012 is auspicious because it has been designated by the United Nations General Assembly to be the “International Day Of The Girl Child”.

For millions of girls all around the world who don’t get equal rights for whatever reasons, this is your day!  So many girls don’t get the right to an education, because other “priorities” such as marriage are forced upon them.  Education can open up the doors to a wider understanding of the world around us, and this is our right.  Celebrate the Day Of The Girl today, and hopefully one day girls everywhere will get the right to an education.

With an education, girls everywhere can become all they desire to be, they can be a scientist, judge, teacher, lawyer, doctor, and they can become leaders.  They can make it to the other side of the gates of the White House.

The White House, Washington, DC

I know that my children will get an education, and it won’t stop at just High School, as so many other girls’ educations do (if they are lucky enough to get that far).  I will give them the gift, and their right to go to college.

Oh, by the way…..this day is also for women who may have suffered the lack of education in the past due to circumstances such as those described or for any other reasons not mentioned.  Happy Day Of The Girl.

To find out more about Day Of The Girl, visit

Happy Day Of The Girl

Youth United for Global Action and Awareness (YUGA)

On October 11, 2012, people around the world will celebrate the first International Day of the Girl. The United Nations made the day official just last year, thanks in part to the advocacy efforts of Plan International USA.

In honor of the day, Plan is bringing female representatives from several of the countries where Because I Am a Girl projects are making a difference, thanks to your generous contributions to the cause. These young women will be in New York City for the first week of October, where they will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, and to have a high-level impact on the international effort to invest in girls’ rights and education.

Read a little about these extraordinary young women–and you’ll see why they were chosen to represent their country and community!

Fabiola, 18, Cameroon. Fabiola is a member of Plan Cameroon’s Youth Empowerment…

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India’s version of Dora the Explorer combats early marriage

Global Justice Initiative

Meet Meena, the star of India’s popular animated series.  Meena is helping UNICEF promote children’s rights by educating kids about harmful practices such as early marriage.  Check out this episode of the cartoon, titled “Say no to dowry”:

READ MORE: Video: Meena, India’s Dora the Explorer, Helps UNICEF Promote ‘Child Rights’, Asia Society (October 5, 2012).

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