Excursioning in Ensenada

9:17 AM

You get one day on land!

So, you better make the BEST of it!  And Poppa Bear decided we were going to, damn it! He booked us an ATV and wine tasting adventure!

We had to meet in a certain area of the ship by 9AM to leave for our excursion. All six of us were ready to go, sun blocked, and waivers signed. Miguel, our ATV tour guide lead us down to the bottom of the ship, to exit the boat.
Of course, there were lines again, checking your Ship & Sail Card and then more awkward forced photos, which we skipped. You are forced to walk through a small-ish open market area, before you get to the buses. Thankfully our bus had A/C, I remember last time visiting La Bufadora and riding a hot, yellow school bus!
The winery was about thirty minutes (or so) away, which felt like forever to get too. When we finally arrived, I was surprised to arrive at a very gorgeous winery, El Cielo Valle de Guadalupe. If we weren't in Mexico, I'd think we were at another winery in California. It was gorgeous!

We scoped out the winery, took a bunch of pics, and went to the bano before we were instructed outside for our ATV adventure.
We saddled up with helmets and bandanas, because we really needed it with the crazy amounts of dirt that flew up. Bad decision to wear a white tank that day, it ended up turning random shades of brown afterward. If you are/were a germ-a-phob, you would have died. They keep this stuff in a locked outdoor bin and don't seem to clean them. Ever! Oh well, go with the punches, right?!?
 
About an hour or so of riding around on hot ATV's was awesome. I've done it before, but it was fun to do it again, in less muddy terrain. However, the copious amounts of dirt was pretty gnarly! We stopped a little over half way and had an ice cold bottle of water, before we set back to the winery. I tried to go as fast as I could, without running into Momma who wasn't going very fast! I think I got it up to 52km, which is only 32mph...hahaha! Oddly, they made the women ride first, followed by the men. My only real thought was that it would make the men behave on the ATVs and not go too crazy, which is a totally sexist thought process. 
Once back at the winery we enjoyed the second part of our tour, wine tasting. After a quick bathroom shower, aka water on paper towels, we all met in the winery. Where we were escorted downstairs to where they have everything. We saw where the wine was being made, the barrels, and then escorted to the tasting room. Again, this just reinforced how similar to a California winery it resembled, a smaller one of course.
Just a little dirty...
 
It wasn't the best wine, but we did get to pair them with truffles, which I didn't really care for either. We tried a white, a darker rose style, and a red - haha, I'm describing them by color, like kool-aid, because I don't really remember the varietals. I was looking to buy a red, so our host poured us additional tastes to see if I liked any. I ended up finding one that I liked and we bought two wine glasses as mementos!
After the tasting, we all went back upstairs to the winery to look around before we headed back. I grabbed an iced coffee next door, then we headed back to the downtown area.
 
The bus dropped us off here so we could explore the town a little, but everyone had the option to get a ride back to the ship. We were all starving, so we ate at Tacos de Sol, on the recommendation of our tour guide. It was okay, they didn't have Carnitas (for me) or Pastor for R! My torta was bomb, everyone else seemed to enjoy their meals.Their sangria was definitely different looking, but it was delish and refreshing after our hot adventure!
 
After lunch we walked around a bit and ducked into a few shops, here and there. Dessert was a must, so we went with Thrifty ice cream. Talk about throwback! Then we stopped in a pretty little bakery and I swooped up more dessert. Sadly, I didn't eat them until we debarked, I totally forgot they were in the cabin!
As we walked backed to the boat, little kids wanted to barter with us. We bartered for a little bit, but they weren't playing fair. So we just walked back to the boat! We found a sign with Momma's name on it, so of course we all posed with it. She can't find her name on many trinkets, so she always loves to see it, even if it's always near water! 
We'd seen the perfect pitch when we docked, but we didn't have a chance to check it out when we got off the boat. Miguel did tell us that all the tour guides and staff play on it, but that was all we heard about it. But luckily for us, the gate was unlocked. That meant that Shell, J, and I had to go and have fun on it...although we were really missing a ball! There may or may not have been a race between two people, which was not taken very seriously. If we could have bought a soccer ball to play with we would have, we even tried to no avail! After running around and sweating a bit, we headed back to the boat.
Not before having to enter through the market we once arrived at, then through customs. Once through there, we had to go through one more line on the boat and Lil checked in all the wine we bought, since you cannot bring outside alcohol onto the ship. Cruises suck, like that! After we were finally left to our own devices, we set off to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Would I say buy a shore excursion? Yes, unless you really like spending time on a docked boat and/or lying out all day. The few cruises that I've been on, we've done excursions. While they are really fun, they aren't that cheap, just like everything else on the boat. It seems that Carnival has extended their options to cover lots of things to do, so that is a bonus. I overheard a girl saying she took the shuttle into town and there are random people who sell cheaper excursions, not related to the Carnival cruise line. She loved it, but I'd say do those at your own risk! I think ours was worth every penny, although the company I had probably made it that much better.

I'm grateful that Poppa Bear surprised us with the fun adventure, even though we were all a little skeptical about how it would go down. Not sure I'd recommend Ensenada wine, but I'd definitely recommend just the aesthetics of the winery. Family, drinking, and a little physical exertion is the best trifecta ever!

Drinking and driving, in the most responsible way possible!

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