Vacation is all I ever wanted: The Baltic cruise odyssey

How does a vacation around the Baltic Sea sound to you?  Just
picture yourself in a wonderful cruise that departs from Copenhagen in
early June, goes to Germany, Estonia, Russia, Sweden, and Finland...A
dream come true for most people, right?

Last Summer we all went on, what seemed to be, a fabulous cruise with Enrico's side of the family.  The
ship departed from Copenhagen on a Sunday afternoon.  After several
days walking the stunning city streets, eating wonderful food, and just
having a blast; we finally arrived at beautiful St. Petersburg. 
Everyone was psyched about stopping at this port; we were spending not
one, but TWO nights in Russia.

Catherine's Palace, the Hermitage...Breathtaking...Yes, breathtaking
when you don't go with a toddler and a baby.  No strollers, no bottles,
not diapers allowed.  So there we were, carrying our thirty pounder,
Joaquin, up the stairs and down the stairs for a good eight hours (give
or take).  It can't get worse than that, right?  Oh, YES IT CAN.

The second
day in St. Petersburg, we decided to stay and enjoy the cruise's
amenities, since the day before had been such a long and hectic one for us.  There
we were, by the pool, waiting for a nice massage, enjoying a cold mojito
with a veggie burger...And after that last bite, it all went down hill.  I had a sharp pain in what seemed to be one of my ovaries.  Immediately, Enrico took me to the cruise's doctor.

"Just give me something for the pain!" I cried in despair.

"Don't worry sweetheart.  You'll start feeling better soon.  When was your last period?" The doctor asked me.

So there I was thinking to myself, please, I have an IUD, I can't be pregnant.  And I wasn't.

"Sweetheart, you need to go to the hospital.  I am not sure what you have, but it is not good."  The doctor said.

"WHAT???  How about my kids?  I am NOT staying in St. Petersburg.  Sorry, I am not staying here."

"Sweetie, let me put this in simple English.  You either go to the hospital now, or you die."

I guess this was serious.  An ambulance picked me up and I was on my way to the "American Medical
Clinic" of St. Petersburg, while my kids continued on the cruise with
Enrico's family.  The "American Medical Clinic"; you'd think that
they speak English, right?  Wrong again.  The surgeon started his
examination and the translator said to me: "Operation, internal
bleeding and you can die".  He had me at die - What the hell was
happening?  Weren't they going to run an ultrasound or x rays? 
Seriously, he kept on saying the same phrase when he saw my puzzled
expression: "Operation, internal bleeding and you can die".

had a peritonitis.  Apparently, a cyst decided to erupt (during my
Baltic vacation) causing internal bleeding, so I was taken to the operation room within 45 minutes.


Our room at the hospital

Two hours after surgery...

"Enrico, I had a dream that we were at a hospital in St. Petersburg."  I said half asleep.

"Nina, we ARE at a hospital in St. Petersburg, and we have to stay here for seven days." 

I was, at the "American Medical Clinic", recovering from a surgery,
stuck in St. Petersburg for a week while my kids were in a completely
different country.  One entire week in Russia due to
surgery and recovery, and I could only talk to our family once a day
for a few minutes.  It was torture.

Three days after my surgery and we decided that if we were going to
stay in Russia for five more days, we were going to make the best out
of it.  Honestly, it was hard to be entirely happy;  first, this wasn't part
of the plan; second, we really missed the kids; and third, we thought that
the food in Russia was awful.  (Sorry to all the Russians out there,
but I couldn't take another bite of beef stroganoff).  The Russians, on
the other hand, were amazing people.  Even though there was a huge language
and cultural barrier, everyone at the hospital made us feel right at

To finish with this odyssey, we made it back to Copenhagen and
regrouped with the kids and the rest of the family.  Eight hours later we were at O'Hare, and all
we were craving was a nice home cooked meal. 

Today, I am sharing with
you the recipe that my wonderful husband prepared for me upon our return to Chicago:  grilled salmon, white beans and rice, and my grandma's tomato salad.  All very healthy, easy to make, and low in fat - Enjoy!

Oh, I almost forgot.  One month after my surgery, my mother-in-law
calls me all excited about a new trip that she wants to book.  This
time, a Mediterranean Cruise...Ay Mama!


For the white beans:
-2 cans of white beans (navy beans)
-6 oz tomato sauce
-6 oz of water
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-Olive oil cooking spray (i.e. PAM)
-1 small chopped onion
-Sazon Goya packet (You can find it on the Hispanic section of most supermarkets in the city)
-1/2 chopped bell pepper
-2 chopped sweet peppers
-3 cloves of minced garlic
-A handful of chopped cilantro
-1 tsp dried oregano
-dash of red wine
-Salt and pepper to taste

For Abita's tomato salad:

-3 plum tomatoes thinly sliced
-1 bunch of fresh spinach leaves
-2 Tbsp light mayo (i.e. Hellmans light, or Kraft light with the light blue cap)
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
-Salt and pepper to taste

For the Dijon grilled salmon:

-3 or 4 small pieces of salmon (4 - 6 oz each)
-Dijon mustard
-Salt & pepper to taste
-lime wedge (optional)

Please click on the pictures for step by step instructions.

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  • La verdad que fue un maraton , pero fijate que siempre sale algo bueno de todo ...Enrico se reafirmo como el super companero de tu vida. No me olvido de esas habichuelas son las mejores!!!!
    Te felicito una vez mas por el blog , es todo un exito!!

  • In reply to rosigoyco:

    El pobre se reafirma cada anio conmigo! Mira que me han dado cosas en estos ultimos 13 anios! Gracias por leer el blog y por tu apoyo incondicional. Besotes! Nina

  • In reply to rosigoyco: well I remember! We were all frantic for news when we heard you were in the hospital in Russia. So glad everything turned out well! :-)

  • In reply to rosigoyco:

    Hola Nina, he estado leyendo tus aventuras en nuestro mundo del "Motherhood" y me he estado riendo de las ocurrencias vividas. Que manera tan jocosa y linda de hablarnos sobre tus vivencias y sobre todo las de esos chicos bellos, que Papito Dios los bendiga.

    Cada mi

  • In reply to mmiranda:

    Gracias! De verdad que es que ha que ponerle humor a ser padres :) Que bueno que te esta gustando el blog - Gracias por tu apoyo!

  • In reply to mmiranda:

    Nina, desde un principio la historia del barco me parecio una verdadera pesadilla! Pero, ya ves que sobreviviste..."you are a survivor"! Y eso lo ven y lo asimilan tus hijos en el proceso. Ya sabes que estoy super orgullosa de ti. Y, please, please, dime que vamos a comer de ese salmon prontamente en tu casa, mmmm!

  • In reply to mmiranda:

    OMG....ustedes si que les gusta las aventuras...hahahahaha. Tendra que pasarme todo eso para ver si mi querido esposo decide prepararme algo de comer???hahahahaha....mejor no me corro el riesgo.De todas maneras hago esta receta...una pregunta si no son frejoles en lata puedo poner los frejoles hervidos? Un besote, me encanta tu blog!!

  • In reply to PiliBardales:

    Mucho mejor si no son de lata! Solo que de lata es mas facil cuando uno anda con los chiquitos :) Ya me contaras que tal te quedaron! Gracias por seguir el blog!

  • In reply to PiliBardales:

    Gracias por compartir tu desagradable experiencia durante tus merecidas vacaciones. Me encant

  • In reply to Valmir:

    Gracias Mireya! Muchas gracias por seguir el blog; de verdad que fue una verdadera pesadilla, pero por lo menos es una historia increible que contar! Ojala que ustedes se disfruten mucho ese viaje :) Un beso y abrazo fuerte! Nina

  • In reply to rosigoyco:

    OMG, Nina! I can't believe this happened to you... a hospital? in Russia? Sending your kids along to another country without you? A TOTAL NIGHTMARE!!... and I thought what I'm going through is horrible - I think you've lived one of my worst nightmares. Holy cow, girl! I'm so glad that you made it through the surgery and everything is ok. I pray that I never get a pain in my side while on vacation in a foreign county where people don't speak my language. :-)

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