Saturday, May 19, 2012

Carnival Caribbean Cruise: Day 1 – Santa Fe to Galveston

Well today we left Santa Fe to go on our 7 Day Exotic Western Caribbean Cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines. We are going on this cruise with my brother, Brent and his wife, Heather and my sister, Donna and her husband, Mark. Our flight was at 7:25am so we left Santa Fe in the dark while the temperature was hovering around 54°F. And since this was a Saturday morning and pretty early we didn’t encounter any traffic and getting to the parking area at the airport was a breeze. We parked, grabbed the shuttle and checked in with Southwest Airlines. We then went through security without any glitches and it actually went really fast. Once at the gate we read for only about 20 minutes before they started boarding the plane. It was a pretty full flight and we had ‘B’ boarding passes which meant we ended up in the back of the plane – but I am not complaining because we ended up having an empty seat between us which gave us some room to relax. Both Thomas and I read throughout the entire flight and after two hours and some snacks (peanuts and vanilla wafers and orange juice) we landed at Houston at Hobby Airport.

Here we gathered our bags and checked in for our rental car. I had originally tried getting a shuttle to Galveston but they were ridiculously expensive and time consuming and it also meant we wouldn’t have a way to get around the town. After some research I decided to get a rental car and that would give us some freedom to do what we wanted. From the airport we took a shuttle to the car rental place and picked up the car. The weather here wasn’t too bad – temperature around 84°F, a cool breeze and clear skies. And I have to say that the humidity wasn’t too bad. We made our way to I45 south and only a few short miles later we exited. We had both decided we were hungry since all we had eaten that morning were the snacks on the plane. We saw a sign for Joe’sCrab Shack and made a beeline there. Thomas had a Chicken Fried Salad and I opted for a Crab Cake Sandwich. The lunch was perfect and just what we needed and now we could make our way towards Galveston and our hotel.

Lost Oak Mermaid
I had planned to do some letterboxing in the area and had my clues ready. We exited I45 again at Hitchcock and FM2004 and made our way to Jack Brooks Park. We probably hiked the trails in the park looking for letterboxes for about 3 hours. We enjoyed ourselves and the weather but the mosquitoes were horrible. There were tons of them and we had deet on but they still found spots that were deet free and we finally decided to call it quits on the trail and make the short drive into Galveston.

Once we crossed the causeway we headed straight for the hotel. We had reservations at The Tremont House in the Strand District of the Island. We got checked in and went up to the room to clean up and relax before we headed out to explore Galveston. The hotel was beautiful with lots of history. The lobby was open and bright and the staff was very friendly. Our room was huge, with two queen beds and a sitting area with a couch and chair. There was also a large armoire which housed the tv. The bathroom was large and decorated really nice and there were heated towel holders. Overall a very comfortable room. Now that we were settled in it was time to head out again.

We made a stop at the Galveston Visitors Center and got a map and some information. We then drove over to see Bishop’s Palace. A beautiful old building that we walked around on the outside and took some pictures but decided we didn’t quite feel up to taking a tour of the inside. From here we headed to the sea wall and drove along there until we found a place for dinner. We ended up at Gaido’s. It was a great restaurant and we had a terrific dinner. Thomas had a sirloin and shrimp with potato wedges and I had pecan encrusted catfish with a sweet corn relish and parmesan tomatoes. Everything was really good and we were stuffed by the time we left the restaurant. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Old City Cemetery, the old Triple XXXRoot Beer Plant and a small neighborhood park (Darragh Park). By this time we were getting tired since the day started early. So we made our way back to the hotel and called it a day. We had a great time and it would have been even better if the mosquitoes hadn’t been so aggressive but still a great start to our vacation.

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