Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Disney Cruise Line Chocolate and Liquor Tasting

That groundhog really pulled a fast one this year, didn’t he? Winter keeps holding on for dear life and just won’t let go! As the temperatures creep ever so slowly upward and as daylight shifts from morning to evening (because it’s not really an extra hour of daylight), I’m dreaming of warm, tropical weather.

I thought I’d share a favorite activity aboard a Disney Cruise – tastings. As part of their onboard fun offerings, tastings are available for a nominal fee. You can either prebook when you schedule other activities in advance or visit Guest Services to sign up on board.

One of their more popular tastings is Mixology. At $25 per person, five drinks are prepared by participants taking turns under the tutelage of a bartender.

Disney Cruise Line Mixology

In Mixology, all of the glasses are set up at the bar and each person takes a turn making some drinks. Everyone ends up with five different drinks made by fellow participants.

I have to admit, this one’s not my favorite. In my experience, you either have the timid folks who only pour in a splash of alcohol or the jokesters who think it’s funny to dump half the bottle in. Either way, I’d rather the bartender just do it as a demonstration class instead of hands-on. After doing this one twice, I’m good to skip it going forward.

One that I really did enjoy, though, was the Chocolate and Liquor Tasting.

Disney Cruise Line Chocolate and Liquor Tasting

Each person gets their own set up of wines and liquors paired with different types of solid and melted chocolate bliss and Parmesan cheese.

This one was $35 and included a champagne (real stuff from France), a red wine, a port and a fairly high end scotch. In fact, the bartender told us our pour of scotch would cost $38 on its own in the bars on the ship, making it a bargain as part of the class if scotch is your thing.

Paired with the liquors were various types of solid and melted chocolate and chunks of Parmesan cheese, which we were instructed to taste with each liquor. I don’t recall having a favorite combination, but it was interesting to experience how the notes of each liquor changed with different pairings.

Each person got his/her own set up, which is great for those who don’t like to share. The class was set up for a full group, even though it wasn’t full. The scotch, chocolate and cheese were already on the tray when the class started, and the wines were poured as they were presented. Since the class wasn’t full, that meant some of the scotch, chocolate and cheese went untouched. That simply was not acceptable so the bartender offered up the extras to the rest of us. One scotch fan was very happy as he got several extra glasses.

One thing to note is that I did not book this in advance. I don’t even recall this particular class being available to book in advance on my sailing. In fact, I didn’t sign up until about 5 minutes prior to start time. So, if you find all tastings sold out in advance, never fear! Head to Guest Services and check availability.

For my next cruise, I already have the Champagne Tasting, Stem to Stern (a wine tasting), Martinis and Tequila and Margaritas booked. I probably won’t keep all of them, depending on what other activities I find on the Navigator once I’m on board. I just have to cancel 24 hours in advance to avoid being charged.

Do you have a favorite on board activity? Please share it in the comments.

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How To Avoid (Or At Least Postpone) The Post Vacation Blues

I don’t know about you but I always seem to come down with a serious case of the post vacation blues (PVB) after returning from a big trip. I was expecting my most recent case to be really bad since it was such an awesome vacation. However, my first week back was so incredibly busy and fun-filled that I didn’t have time to suffer. Here’s what I did.

First off, we usually have to stop for the night on the way back from Disney, and this normally means a business-travel-type hotel. That’s usually my first slap-in-the-face from the real world and is a stark contrast to the magical accommodations I’ve been accustomed to for the previous week. This time, however, we made a detour to Biloxi, MS to spend the night at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. Even though it’s still not quite the fairy tale of a Disney cruise ship, it has a very vacationy feel to it. Everyone is still happy, and there’s no real world slap. The $43 I won within 10 minutes of playing the slots helped as well.

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower--I'm not complaining!

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower–I’m not complaining!

The first few days back from work were relatively event-free, which always helps. I didn’t have a mess to return to, and nothing earth-shattering happened while I was away, so no PVB-inducing work needed to be done to fix anything.

Then on Wednesday after returning, I went to an outdoor concert at Levitt Shell, which is an amphitheater in Overton Park, located in Midtown Memphis. Levitt Shell is a free venue, and people simply bring their chairs or blankets, coolers filled with their favorite libations and noshes, and maybe a few dollars for food trucks and an optional donation to the band. Most of the time these concerts are held on the weekends but this one was a make-up date from a previously rained-out show. The band was mediocre but the vibe was cool and it turned out to be a very relaxing evening.

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

The very next night, on Thursday, I got to volunteer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at Target House Bingo. In case you missed it, read all about it here.

On Friday, I got to play hooky from work for the afternoon and attended the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic, an annual PGA golf tournament in Memphis.

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Entrance

This year, the biggest player in the tournament was Phil Mickelson, winner of 4 majors, including the Masters. It was funny because almost the entire grounds crowd, including me, was following Phil from hole to hole.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Apparently, cameras were not allowed, and I got reprimanded when I took this shot.

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

They didn’t kick me out or confiscate my phone, though, so it’s all good. The Golf Channel was there filming, being super-serious.

The Golf Channel Camera Man

The Golf Channel Camera Man

Unfortunately, I can’t recall who won the tournament, but I know it wasn’t Phil. It made for a relaxing, PVB-avoiding afternoon, though.

Then that night I was invited to the opening of The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South, a new art exhibit at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

I’m a member of the Brooks, and this was a perk of membership. The wine was freely flowing, and there were tables practically overflowing with cheese, crackers, and fruit. The exhibit itself was beautifully curated and seemed to go on forever. Room after room was filled with his art depicting the rural American South of days gone by. It was all so gorgeous and detailed. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time it took him to create each piece.

After that, I capped my evening and first week back from vacation at Chiwawa, a new bar in Midtown Memphis’s Overton Square that serves Mexican influenced bar food and drinks. This is definitely not your typical Tex-Mex, pick-a-number-from-one-to-twenty-three type places. I wouldn’t exactly call it upscale, either, though. It’s more of a hip, modern place with a Mexican flare. I started off with a Strawberry Watermelon Sno Cone topped with vodka and some guacamole with chips. The “drink” was so refreshing! It appears as though there was a lot of ice, but it was plenty strong. The guacamole was chunky and flavorful, and the chips were house made. I followed that up with a brisket taco and a pulled pork taco (pastor style). Both had the most inventive and delicious house made toppings and were so good! I also had their version of Mexican street corn, which is slathered with mayo, cheese and other spices. I’m pretty sure they also soak it in milk or something because every kernel popped and exploded with juiciness with each bite. I would say it was the best corn I’ve ever had, and I’m not really a corn fan.

Chiwawa Memphis

Chiwawa Memphis

It was the perfect ending to a week of avoiding PVB!

How do you recover from PVB?

If you haven’t figured out by now, St. Jude is my favorite charity. I’m running in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon in December, and I’m trying to raise $500 for the kids of St. Jude. Please visit my fundraising page here, and I would love it if you can make a donation. Any amount helps.

Also, follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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