Energy Conservation Day

Today is our first full day at sea.  Activites abound around the ship so there is no shortage of things to occupy one’s time.  However, given the miles we have recently subjected our feet and legs to over the past few days, this seems more an energy conservation day than anything else.  That said, I know I will be attending the art auction later today.  Not that we buy much (although we have made a couple of purchases in the past and have been lucky enough to win some as well), but it is great for expanding the overall knowledge of the art world.  And, let’s face it, there is always the free champagne.

Breakfast is done and a quiet spot found to update the blog, add more pictures and simply do not much of anything.  Mother would be proud. 🙂

One of our later stops this trip will be in Akita.  This is one of Japan’s premier sake producing locations and a tour of a local brewery is already safely implanted into our itenerary.  There will be more information to come, but I’ve already shown my fondness for sake by having some at almost every restaurant we’ve stopped at so far.  With that in mind a little sake orientation may be in order.

Sake is more like a wine or beer than a spirit.  It is not distilled, like vodka or gin.  It’s made from a starchy grain (rice) rather than a sugary fruit which makes its fermentation closer to beer than wine.  But it’s rarely carbonated and the overall character is closer to wine than beer.  If beer and wine could have children, sake would likely be the result.

Sake does not improve with age and should be consumed soon after opening (3 days is a good rule of thumb).  Don’t keep it beyond a year after opening.  Most sake is pasteurized so keep it in a cool, dark place until it’s opened then refrigerate to maintain quality.

After the tour in Akita I will come back to this very tasty subject with a greater insight into quality and preparation.  For now suffice to say that Daiginjo and Junmai Daiginjo are what you want to look for on the bottle.

A leisurely and Very light lunch and then off to a ‘Meet and Greet’ of Cruise Critic members up in SkyWalkers Lounge (effectively deck 17 top of the ship).  Here we have the opportunity to get acquainted with other cruisers that we only know by nicknames through the websight.  As many cruises as we have been on (closing in on a dozen by the end of this duo) we are humbled by a number of other travellers.  Here is one couple closing in on 20, another over there is approaching 35 and one lady pipes up that she is celebrating her 70th birthday on this, her 70th cruise.  We should be so lucky.

The art auction beckons so down we go.  As it turns out we sit beside a lady from Calgary!  Her knowledge of artists that we are seeing is certainly more extensive than ours and her collection sounds very well-rounded.  I bid on a mystery (essentially vying for 2 prints that I cannot yet see by an artist I do not yet know).  I get them both for $200.  Not too bad as they are both by Emile Bellet and collectively worth almost $1600 USD.

Now, a couple of hours later it’s time to go back to the room and prepare for our first (of three) formal night.  We have been to a number of them over the years and generally refrain from going to all that are offered.  However we try to go to at least one as dressing up for dinner is still enjoyable as is seeing how snazzy everyone else is.  Thanks to my best friend’s father, I easily had one of the nicest dinner jackets to be seen.

Dinner was again as good as we have come to expect with Princess.  Our dinner companions this evening were from Hawaii (oringinally from Chicago) and we swapped stories of cruising, places visited and whose dog whines the most when left at home.

Back to the room and call it a fairly early night.  Tomorrow it’s rise and shine at 6 A.M to have time to get dressed, have some breakie and meet at 7:10 A.M. to go on our tour of the national crane park.  WHY so early???  We will only be in Kushiro until 2 P.M. so it’s then or not at all.

This IS a vacation, right??

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