Sip Trips #103: Babymooning (Part 1)

Back in 2012, Mrs. Sip and I celebrated our honeymoon with a cruise through the Panama Canal. Nearly five years later and with a little girl on the way, we decided to take our babymoon from Rome to Dubai – through the Suez Canal – aboard another luxury liner. Here’s part one of that expedition:

Our first stop of the journey was Rome, Italy, a favourite city for both Mrs. Sip and myself. Friends from London joined us for this portion of the vacation and after some sightseeing, we journeyed to the 404 Name Not Found bar, which one of our companions had researched. There, complex cocktails (and a mocktail for Mrs. Sip) awaited us. Always a fan of spicy drinks, I tried the 666, complete with Jalapeno-infused Tequila, Cointreau, Lime Juice and Honey.

The next morning, I was able to cross an item off my drinking bucket list, when I enjoyed my first ever McBeer (Beera Moretti Baffo D’oro) at the McDonald’s just outside the walls of the Vatican City. Despite beer being available at a McDonald’s stop or two prior, this was the first time I’ve imbibed in the option and it was a great experience with my set of famous hamburgers.

McBeers

Later that day, we were off to board our ship at the Civitavecchia Port, over an hour outside Rome. After checking in, we arrived at our room (which had been upgraded from a balcony to a mini suite) and were promptly given glasses of sail away bubbly. It was a very nice start to our two-week journey aboard the Majestic Princess.

Mrs. Sip surprised me with bottles of Bacardi Rum, Skyy Vodka and Gordon’s Gin to go along with the two bottles of wine I had just grabbed at the Termini train station. I also brought a handful of Grey Goose mini bottles, so giving I was drinking solo, I was quite set for the voyage. I never buy the all-inclusive pop package available on the cruise, so having mixers for my booze can be challenging, but I’ve picked up some tricks along the way. I did purchase a soda set, which provided me with six cans of pop, while also taking advantage of free orange juice for breakfast and lemonade throughout the day. This allowed me to create an array of drinks, enhanced by some clever fruit pick-ups at the buffet.

Our first stop of the cruise docked in Naples, Italy. Our excursion for the day would take us to the island of Capri, where I got to do a little Limoncello tasting, followed by lunch in Sorrento (where I chugged back close to a bottle of house wine) and finishing with a tour of the historic Pompeii.

Pompeii Stoned

Our next port of call was in Athens. Mrs. Sip and I elected to take a hop-on, hop-off bus into the city, where we visited the 360 Cocktail Bar. With views of the legendary Acropolis from the bar’s rooftop patio, I sat back and enjoyed servings of their Heat Wave (Russian Standard Vodka, Mezcal, Jalapeno Chillies, Oregano, Herbs, Agave, Lime) and The Journey of Chivalry (Chivas Regal 12-year, Noilly Prat Vermouth, Cashews, Smoked Salt, Coconut Water) cocktails. I had also tried to order the Summer Loading (Bacardi White Rum, Watermelon, Orgeat, Lime, Three Cents Agean Tonic), but sadly it was not available.

As we continued to explore the area, we popped into a store where I purchased a bomber-sized bottle of Alfa Weiss Beer and cans of Fanta Strawberry-Kiwi and Tuborg Orange-Cinnamon Soda to add to my mixer collection. The greatest treat came as we returned to the port. There was a duty-free shop in the terminal and after confirming purchases wouldn’t be taken away, as there was no security check to go through boarding the ship, I popped back into the store before we set sail to snag a half-liter bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon.

Our stop the next day on the Greek island of Santorini was one I was greatly looking forward to. We had visited for a week 10 years prior and it became one of my favourite places I’ve ever been to. Sadly, this trip wasn’t nearly as good, as the tiny island was hosting three different ships and was overrun. To salvage the day, Mrs. Sip and I sat down in a tiny bar in the capital city of Fira, where I had an Alfa Beer and enjoyed the sights. Then we travelled down 700 steps to the port, dodging donkeys and their droppings along the way.

That wraps up part one of our expedition. Join us tomorrow for the second half of an amazing holiday.

June 15 – Carpet Licker

Regionals

The world is littered with wonderful wine regions, where fans of the grape can pilgrimage to and get blasted winery-hopping style. While wine is far from my favourite libation, I do like to get travel wasted and visiting a winery provides some of the greatest surroundings for doing so. Here are some of the best stops to hit if you’re a connoisseur of reds and whites (and pinks, I suppose!):

Barossa Valley – Australia

This was a fun little wine tour Mrs. Sip and I did while visiting Adelaide, Australia. As good as the wine and scenery was, what I will always remember most from the tour was our picnic-style lunch, where the main course was barbecued kangaroo, marinated in red wine. I never thought kangaroo meat could be so delicious. I gorged myself on the delicacy, as well as the rest of the lunch, probably facilitated by the copious wine samples we had already enjoyed up to that point.

barossa valley

Okanagan Valley – British Columbia

Mrs. Sip just got back from visiting the Okanagan wine region on a stagette and if the 13 new bottles taking up space in my liquor racks is any indication, she had a good time and found some wines she really enjoyed. Heck, rumour has it Cousin Sip brought back 30 bottles of grape goodness after this 2 day trip!

Champagne/Beaujolais – France

Champagne was another wine excursion enjoyed by Mrs. Sip, minus your faithful Sip Advisor. How do I let her get away with this desertion!? While there, she sampled the wines and champagnes the region is renowned for. We were together for a brief stop in Beaujolais, where we climbed to the “Top of the World” and had a wine and picnic lunch before staying the night at a Beaujolais winery property.

Hood River – Oregon

On a weekend away with family, we hit a number of stops criss-crossing the Washington-Oregon border. We had a convoy of vehicles stopping at each business and it was fun to roll through a tasting with such a large, increasingly boisterous group. Our favourite stop was probably the Maryhill Winery, home to a summer concert series, and where guest can even hop into a tub and stomp some grapes.

Maryhill Winery

Columbia Cascade – Washington

On yet another wine tour (damn, we go on a lot of these!), Mrs. Sip and I, along with Cousin Sip and her husband braved the oncoming winter to sample a number of wines in the Cascade area. The last stop of our tour was the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, where the main drag houses many underground wine tasting options. Getting Mrs. Sip and Cousin Sip back on the bus was far from easy for us guys.

Napa Valley & Sonoma Valley – California

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many California wines, but never had the chance to visit any of the winery regions the state is home to. While Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed a wonderful and quite memorable wine tasting in San Francisco (see Bay Breeze), we have never had the time to do a tour of the Napa or Sonoma Valleys. It is on our Bucket List to do together, we just need to be in the area for longing than a cruise port stop.

Bubbles over Napa

Santorini – Greece

The last stop as part of a tour exploring the island was visiting the Wine Museum of Santorini and Koutsoyannopoulos Winery. How do I remember such a crazy long Grecian name, you ask? Well, you see, Mrs. Sip has (or at least had) this little habit of “collecting” souvenirs from her travels. On this occasion, she wanted a glass from the little winery and to make a long story short, she got it!

Monticello – Virginia

While visiting Washington, D.C., our hosts took us out of the American capital to Virginia, specifically Monticello, where we had access to numerous wines and enjoyed a nice picnic lunch on the storied grounds of the winery surrounded by 19th century plantation ruins. Later, we ventured to the home of Thomas Jefferson, where unfortunately, no wine was served, which would have been a great tribute to the former president.

Drink #166: Carpet Licker

June 15

  • 1 oz White Wine
  • 0.5 oz Melon Liqueur (I used Watermelon Pucker)
  • 0.5 oz Southern Comfort
  • 0.5 oz Dr. Pepper
  • Top with Whipped Cream
  • Garnish with Sprinkles

I’m sure I’m missing some of the best wine regions, but I wanted to focus on areas we’ve actually visited or plan to visit in the very near future. Have any suggestions for a future getaway? Feel free to give us your best Lonely Planet review.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
I thought this shot tasted fantastic, especially with my substitution of Watermelon Pucker for Melon Liqueur… I just had a feeling. The presentation is spectacular which certainly justifies the high score. The shooter ingredients and measurements are enough for two servings, so share the love!

June 2 – Backyard Tea

No Need for Crumpets

One of my all-time favourite places to have a drink is on the back deck at Ma and Pa Sip’s place, after a day of tanning and swimming, while watching the sun set and enjoying a barbecue meal. Before the evening morphs into late night shenanigans and beer pong, this is a moment to relax, catch your breath, and enjoy all the little pleasure in life. Here are some of my other preferred drinking locations:

Disneyland/Disneyworld

There’s just something about grabbing a beer and enjoying the park that is so amazing. You can either use it to help you through a portion of a long attraction line-up or just sit back and relax, taking in the sights and sounds that make the lands come to life. I’ve also had two of my most crazy drinking experiences at these parks, one at Disneyland (see Hidden Mickey) and once at Disneyworld’s EPCOT (to be featured in a future post).

drunk-pooh

Balconies

While Mrs. Sip often calls it a night and hits the dream world, I’m just not ready to join her. In these cases, I can often be found on the many balconies I’ve had the pleasure of drinking on. Whether it’s Santorini, Greece, watching the waves roll onto the beach; the isolated wilderness of Wigwam, B.C.; or aboard our honeymoon cruise, enjoying tropical lightning storms; I always find good use of my balcony time.

Camping

Is there anything better than relaxing in the great outdoors, being one with nature, and getting your swerve on!? Providing you have copious amounts of booze, a ton of snacks, a roaring fire and a comfy chair, do you really need much more to the camping experience? Sure bug spray and a lamp or flashlight might help… hell, a tent could come in handy too, but as long as you have the essentials, everything will work out!

drunk camping

Bar Patio

With patio season rapidly approaching, I’ve spent a great many hours finding some of the best spots in my area to enjoy a frosty beverage in the open air. It’s so nice to have the sun shining down upon you with liquid relief close by; great friends and good conversation to pass the time… it almost brings a tear to my eye. In my little part of the world, given our short and mild summer, we use any excuse possible to get out onto the patios, even if it’s not really that warm.

My Couch

I’ve made it quite clear on this site that I’m a reasonably lazy fellow. I enjoy my down time and that usually comes in the form of libations in front of the tube, wasted away in Margaritaville and other locales. When I’m off in my own little world, it’s best not to disturb me or else you run the risk of having to reset my circuit. I’m just full of programming flaws!

Drink #153: Backyard Tea

June 2

After writing this post, I can’t wait for summer to be here. You know it’s just around the corner when the wonderful scent of barbecue wafts through the neighbourhood air. Makes sure to enjoy one of these drinky-poos this season!

Sip Advisor’s Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
This was a wonderful mix. I love my Sailor Jerry’s and the Iced Tea was fun to play with – an ingredient I’ve wanted to experiment with for a little while now. The Lemonade just heightened the lemon flavour in the recipe for a tangy taste.