Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Stampin'Up' Mediterranean Cruise Summary - the short version of an awesome week!

I am going to make this sound like a whirlwind week... which in some ways it was, but I am going to just go through the highlights.  There are so many little amazing details I cant mention, but hopefully this will give you an idea of at least some of the things we got up to on our amazing holiday!

May 20 Day 1:
Left Sydney airport on an A380 bound for Dubai - 14 hour flight

On our way!

May 21 Day 2:
Mostly flying.  Arrived at Dubai airport at 6am ish, Couple of hours waiting for next flight to Barcelona. Ran into Pam Jorgensen and family in Dubai airport, had a cuppa.  Next flight just under 7 hours, Arrived in Barcelona, SU had a transfer waiting for us to take us to the Fairmont Hotel in Barcelona.  Grabbed a Spanish meal near our hotel (best Sangria ever!) before heading back to our hotel very very tired.

Best Sangria ever!

May 22 Day 3:
Wide awake at 3am. Got up and worked on our 3d swaps in our hotel room! Awesome buffet breakfast with other demos, and met up with many of our fellow Australian contingent.  Brunch cocktails in the bar with the Webbs.  Transferred to the "Norwegian Epic".  Hospitality suite was open so it gave us a chance to catch up with staff and friends and spin the wheel to win fun prizes (new products!).  Set sail for Naples at 6pm.  First night "Meet and Greet" with other demonstrators and staff.  Awesome to catch up with everyone. Found out that altogether our group was roughly 800 strong - thats 400 demonstrators plus guests!  Pillow gift: a very cool Stampin'Up cap to wear on our tours plus tickets to the Cirque de Soleil show onboard!

Paul working on our 3d swaps in our hotel room at 3am because we couldn't sleep!

Our itinerary

Our boat - the Norwegian Epic

Spinning the Wheel

First night pillow gift - this cute cap plus tickets to a show!

May 23 Day 4 - At sea
10am General Session - I love these sessions at trips! So much useful information for the leaders and great hearing from the corporate team about the direction of the company. The rest of the day was at our leisure and we got to explore the boat some more and have some fun. We played Bingo (as you do) and laughed lots!  Attended the show that night (see pillow gift from previous night) which was lots of fun.  Pillow gift tonight was a fabulous Dooney and Bourke bag and some rolls of the new striped ribbons.... love it!

May 24 Day 5
We're in Italy! My number one bucket list location! First stop: Naples.  We had organised to go on a tour with Amanda Fowler (UK Demo) and a couple of her team (Pip and Liz) and their hubbies to Pompeii and Vesuvius. AMAZING!  Our tour guide Salvatore was so knowledgeable and it was completely fascinating. Then to a winery on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius for wine tasting and lunch! Yum! After that we went up Mt. Vesuvius.... and I do mean UP.  The mini bus took us as far as it could, and we had to walk the last kilometre or so.  Nearly killed me. But we stopped when necessary, and just put one foot in front of the other until we reached the top and looked into the Crater itself!  Yep, it was hard, but the view and the accomplishment was so worth it! (Hmmm there's a metaphor there methinks!).  Thanks to Amanda for a completely incredible day full of laughs, fun, history and friendship! Loved it all. Dinner that night with Tracy Penn and many of the South Pacific group to celebrate Tracy's mother's 87th birthday - she had a fabulous time and so did we!  Fell into bed totally exhausted but happy.

The streets of Pompeii

Paul and I in Pompeii

Look who I found in Pompeii! Miss Vanessa!

Wine tasting and Antipasto at a Vineyard on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius

We climbed the Mountain! Amanda, Liz and I in front of the crater at Mt. Vesuvius!

Another awesome Pillow Gift - The full Floral Boutique Suite!

May 25 Day 6
Rome!  This day was the most walking we did.... but a lot flatter than the previous day (all this week we did 12,000 - 16,000 steps per day!) We went on a tour organised by a company called "Cant Be Missed" tours.... and they did a fantastic job or making sure we went everywhere noteworthy in Rome, and with knowledgeable and friendly guides. I thoroughly recommend them!  We started the tour at the Colosseum, and then to all the sites.. the Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and too many others to mention.  After a great Italian lunch we toured the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel... so much history and quite astounding to visit!  Then back to the boat.  Once again we were worn out at the end of the day.

Made it to the Colosseum!

Amazing Ceilings!

Throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain

Pillow gift - super cute shopping bag (all zipped up)

May 26 Day 7
Livorno - Florence - Pisa
We had another tour with the "Cant be Missed" group, and this time we visited the city of Florence. Lots of walking again... starting with the Accedamia (where many of Michelangelo's works can be viewed including the statue of David - its amazing!! - as well as many of his unfinished works). Lunch in Florence and then we headed off to the town of Pisa.  Learned lots about this cute little town and got to see the famous Leaning Tower.  Also had 30 mins with free wifi for the first time in days!  Last day in Italy.... definitely plan on coming back!

Beautiful Florence

Seeing David at the Academia

Paul and I in Pisa!

Pillow gift today - the NEW Tin of Cards!

May 27 Day 8
Cannes, France
Ok I'll be honest. I was so fixated on going to Italy, I hadn't given a lot of thought to what France would be like. Admittedly, we only experienced 2 French cities, but I was so taken with both of them. Today we went to Cannes and for the first time in port we didn't have a planned tour. Instead we crossed paths with some fellow Aussies (the Scott and Ross families) and spent most of the day with them. Bec Ross and her boys had to head back to the boat after a while, but we had lunch with Aaron and Karen and wandered around the streets. The markets were incredible and the store fronts were beautifully done. Karen and i sampled some local delicacies (Fried zucchini flowers and Croquettes)  and Paul tried some of the local sausage.  The streets are completely adorable! Back on board we were also treated to a private showing of the "Burn the Floor" live dance show... it was fantastic!  After that Stampin'Up had reserved one of the lounges for us to hold "Stampin'Up Karaoke"..... a LOT of fun was had, with some very brave demonstrators (or their partners) getting up to sing.  It was a super fun way to finish a fabulous day.

View from the castle in Cannes - you can see our ship!

One of many Cannes patisseries

Today's gift - cute Stampin'Up Logo t-shirt and new Embellishments

May 28 Day 9
Marseille, France.
Another gorgeous day... the whole week has seen almost perfect weather every day! First I headed down to the Manhattan dining room where SU had set up tables for us to create some great Make and Take projects!  With a free stamp set as we walked in we got to create 3 great projects with new products from the new Annual catalogue. Great chance to chat to other demonstrators too!  We had a shorter day in port today, but it featured more narrow streets and charming houses.  We explored some of the streets away from the Port's edge together with Vanessa and Simon Webb.. Ness and i have similar tastes when it comes to what we like, so some of the little shops and boutiques were fun to explore. We had lunch in a cute little square complete with Piano accordion playing and french menus. We had crepes (of course!) and sampled some local French drinks.  We were taxied back to the boat in a brand new Tesla (an electric car that I knew nothing about until I climbed into it) which was a memorable ride!  More catching up with friends on the boat, but then it was time to head back to pack ready for the following day.

Sunrise as we sailed into Marseilles

Beautiful blue door in Marseilles

Outdoor lunch in Marseilles

Last night Pillow Gift - the Foxy Friends suite

May 29 Day 10
Saying Goodbye.  Finally it was time to leave the Norwegian Epic.  Luckily for us, we still had another 3 days in Barcelona, so even though our Stampin'Up trip had come to an end, we looked forward to a few more days of Mediterranean Sunshine.

Goodbye Norwegian Epic!

This really was a dream come true.  As you know, I love my job.  But how amazing to be rewarded like this for doing what you love!  I don't think I really believed I was going on this trip until we were THERE.  It was a trip of a lifetime for sure. And the fact that it was all paid for by Stampin'Up! for both Paul and I to attend just blows my mind! (Yes we paid for our tours and extra souvenirs, but EVERYTHING else was covered)  How amazing is that!!!?????

I am very aware too that I am extremely grateful. To Stampin'Up for spoiling us and providing so many awesome resources to create a business I love, and for rewarding us so well. To my team members and customers who I get to work with every day and are truly awesome! Thank you for supporting my business.  And to the dear friends and family who support me by caring for me all year long and two extra special people who stepped up to help me look after the kids while we were gone.... THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

People occasionally ask me when Im going to get a "real job", or when I am going to go "back to work".  Seriously???!! Are you kidding??  Why would I do anything else? This job allows me to live the creative life I want, with the flexibility that I want, but also provides me with an income for my family.  And the rewards are HUGE.  Sure, there is work involved. But its work I actually enjoy.

If you've ever thought about joining Stampin'Up! Now is an awesome time with a current promotion to receive an additional 2 stamp sets (ANY VALUE) when you join Stampin'Up as a demonstrator in June.  So a fantastic bargain just got even better.  If you would like some more information about this please CONTACT ME before the end of June, click the "Join my Team" tab at the top of this page to read about it for yourself.

Love what you do, and get rewarded for it..... that's my kind of job!

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