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Posts tagged ‘wine cruise’

The Boat

I had never been on a cruise. I was never sure I actually wanted to go on one. I love to travel and explore, but the desire to do so by way of a giant floating hotel wasn’t on my list. Mostly, I thought the limited time in each port just wouldn’t be enough. Still, I’ve always been curious about them and had heard from people who cruise that it’s important to pick the right cruise line. Oceania appeared to fall into that category.

As soon as I got home from the watering hole the evening that Sarah extended the invite, I went online to check out our specific cruise. My eyes watered in anticipation of the places we would visit. I had never been to any of these cities, let alone countries. My visits to Europe have been limited to Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Italy. I had never been to Spain, Portugal, France, or England. And while the stops would be brief in our ports of call, I was positively giddy.

On our last morning in Barcelona, Sarah and I went for another run down to the water. It was then that I first saw our ship. The big “O” loomed 10 stories up on top. I couldn’t wait to get on and see what was on the inside.

First Sighting

First thing’s first

I don’t want this to read like an advertisement so I’ll just say this: The food was delicious, the service impeccable, the beds luxurious, and our stateroom, while small, was perfectly comfortable with plenty of closet space and a nice sized bathroom. We also had a balcony where we drank gin and tonics and looked at the sea.

Our first night, in what we thereafter called, “The Purple Bar”

A lasting memory to take with me was Natalia. She was our housekeeper from Russia; an adorable young blond woman with an infectious smile who took excellent care of us and called us, “My ladies.” No doubt she treated everyone that she was assigned to the very same way, but she had a knack for making you feel like you were the most important person on the ship and I adored her. You sometimes meet people who make an impression and though I really didn’t actually know her, I wish I did.

Not once did we stay on the ship in lieu of exploring a port. Had we, there were plenty of daily activities or a beautiful swimming pool to lounge around, but we didn’t want to miss what was beyond the ship. We only had one full day at sea, and that was toward the end of the cruise between Bordeaux, (where we actually did an overnight and were able to spend more time), and Honfleur, our last stop before disembarking in London.

And we’re off. Goodbye Barcelona. Until we meet again.

First stop, Cartagena.

The Invite

An ordinary Friday last August. Your dearest friend and “sort of” coworker texts and asks if you want to get a beer after work. I say “sort of” coworker because while we work at the same winery, we don’t work together at all, and we were friends for quite some time before her commute became my commute. She’s a winemaker. I’m in the compliance department. I make sure that everything we are doing when we ship the wine that she makes to various states is legal. I also make sure that we are complying with the laws set forth by the U.S. Department of the Treasury that regulates the production and sales of alcoholic beverages; the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, otherwise known as the TTB. Boring stuff if you aren’t me I suppose because I actually like my job.

Anyway, back to that beer. We met at a place we occasionally frequent. Does that even make sense? If you only occasionally frequent an establishment then you don’t really frequent it, do you? But it’s on our way home and on the occasional occasion that a cold beer needs to be drunk before we make our way home, this is our place. We never say no to each other. At least not that I can recall. It’s a given. If one of us needs a quick beer, the other is available. I sat across the picnic table from the girl who has been my closest friend since moving to Healdsburg almost nine years ago. We both had an ice cold pint glass full of Trumer Pils. We cheered. And then she said, “Do you want to go as my guest on the wine cruise next May?”

I burst into tears. In a nutshell, there is a wine club cruise to far off lands every other year. A cruise that the winemaker goes on and is afforded a guest, be it husband, family member, friend… Since knowing my friend, who I will call Sarah because that is her name, she has always taken a family member. She said, “I want to take you. We will have a blast!”

I literally jumped up and did a happy dance.


Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

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