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Carnival Fantasy - Awesome Anniversary Cruise – 01/01/11 – 01/07/11

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ABOUT US

 

Myself (Randy), and DW (Kimberly) married for ten years. I wanted to do something special for our 10th anniversary.

 

I hope to not bore anyone that doesn’t enjoy the extra stuff pre-cruise, but my favorite reviews have been those that included both what they did before boarding the ship as well as pictures. Disclaimer also, I do tend to make fun of myself quite a bit, and thankfully DW had plenty of opportunities to help me out in that area!

 

We always talked about going on a cruise, and after our attorney told us about going out of Charleston, we decided to go on Fantasy, because we both had never been to either Bahamas ports (Freeport & Nassau) as well as Key West.

 

We didn’t want to travel on New Year’s Eve, and had already checked into flying versus driving. We decided to drive and add a couple days before the cruise to relax and check out Charleston.

 

I didn’t take a lot of food porn pics because they are all over Cruise Critic. I did take one though, that first hot dog (and it was good)!

 

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One thing I think I took 100 pics of was the darned whale tail! I love that thing and got many different angles and views. Updated the wallpaper on my Mac with my favorite shot.

 

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PRE-CRUISE

We arrived in Charleston on Wednesday afternoon, and booked the Hampton Inn in West Ashley with their Snooze & Cruise package. Originally, we wanted to stay downtown, but the cost of parking during the hotel stay and the cruise, made the decision a simple one.

 

Hampton Inn was great. We booked a king Jacuzzi room and were shocked at how large and nice it was. It was a huge suite!

 

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They also provided a couple smaller bottles of champagne as well as a free carriage ride ticket in honor of our anniversary. Very nice and thoughtful touch!

 

We did the carriage tour on Thursday, and although it was fairly cold, it was still warmer than what we had in Ohio, so we didn’t complain at all!

 

One thing that was funny about the government of Charleston is they only permit so many carriage tours at the same time, and they had carriage tour bingo so even the tour guide had no idea which route we were going on, until they were assigned a random ball from the government official in this small shack.

 

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In addition to the carriage tour, we also took the ferry ride at Patriots Point to Fort Sumter and toured the grounds.

 

View going across the bridge to Patriot’s Point

 

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Ferry boat:

 

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View of the bridge from Patriot’s Point:

 

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Fort Sumter:

 

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Fort Sumter:

 

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For the dog lovers in the group, someone had four Daschunds outside the grounds. Of course since we have one, we had to stop and say “hi” to them:

 

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EMBARKATION & FIRST NIGHT

 

Since we did the snooze and cruise package, we didn’t have to mess around with parking at the port or figuring that all out. We left the hotel around 11:00AM and made the 18-minute trip to the port. Had to wait about 10 minutes before we could go to the small luggage drop off area.

 

Here was our first view of Fantasy.

 

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Did the customary $1 tip per bag and left our luggage with the porters. Then we walked about 100 feet outside the fenced area, and boarded a tour bus for the short ride to the terminal.

 

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It sounds goofy that they do it this way, but because of how the port is setup, I’m sure it’s done to maximize security and prevent problems from happening. One thing that I noticed was the large police presence when the ship is in port.

 

I was shocked at how quickly we got on board the ship. We had V.I.P. status because I booked a Grand Suite for us. We didn’t get on the ship any quicker than anyone else, partially because of the size of the port, and the small number of people that were boarding at the time.

 

I recommend getting there as early as possible though. We were one of the first busloads that boarded the ship. We were on board before noon with a DOD in hand!

 

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Of course, I took WAY too many photos and spent a fair amount of time walking around the ship taking in the sites.

 

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Love the review so far. We cruise out on the Fantasy in 7 days and are also staying at the Hampton Inn West Ashley prior to the cruise. Can't wait to read more.

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I see your whale tail peeking:

 

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We went to the Lido and grabbed a bite to eat. After reading one post about the hot dogs and how good they were, I had to have one! And it was GREAT! Probably because of the surroundings and how new and exciting everything was to us.

 

They did have a two-man band on the Lido during the cruise. One guy was playing guitar and the other guy was playing steel drums. Not a full band, but it set the tone and was welcome to our ears.

 

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We spent some time walking around the ship and getting our bearings. One thing that was very helpful was a deck plan card that they had at the Guest Services area. Fantasy is not an overly large ship, but we did spent a little time figuring out where we were until we got that card.

 

Ok, maybe I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I had a hard time understanding that we had to go “down” to go to the “Upper” deck.

 

Once we saw it was close to 1:30PM, we made our way “down” to our deck and were able to get right into our stateroom. We were very impressed with its size. The balcony was awesome. We spent a lot of time during the first sea day as well as the in port days enjoying our coffee in the mornings. I had ordered some rum as well as the anniversary-decorating package and was pleased to see that everything was there! Nice surprise for the DW!

 

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Any FunTimes?

 

Yes! I have all of them. Will get them scanned and uploaded in the next couple of days.

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One thing that I will get made fun of at family functions for the near future was my mistaken thought that the small white bags in the bathroom were “barf” bags. Boy was I wrong on that one! DW is still laughing over that! That will teach me to read the darned things before I assume anything from now on.

 

The only bummer about the day was the fact that we didn’t get underway until after 6:00PM. I was really hoping to be able to get some pictures/video of sail-away, but it was very dark by that time. Still enjoyed it though!

 

Getting ropes pulled back in so we can GO:

 

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Wow, these balconies aren’t private at all:

 

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Pulling away from the dock:

 

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Great job! Excellent photos.

The Fantasy looks just as good today as the last time I sailed on her two or three years ago!

:)

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We ate in the main dining room for dinner, I had the St. Louis Ribs, DW had the Talapia. Of course, being the chocaholic that I am, I had the Warm Melting Chocolate Cake. Everything was very good, service was spot on!

 

Now, one thing that you may be shocked about is the availability of desserts that are low-fat, sugar-free, etc. DW was definitely more disciplined in that area than myself.

 

Having never been on a boat larger than our pontoon boat before, I was shocked (I know, DUH) about the motion all over the ship. I honestly didn’t know if it would be an issue for me or not, but it really wasn’t too bad.

 

We enjoyed the nighttime views of the ship and ocean, and got a good night’s rest.

 

More pictures from around the ship:

 

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A little cloudy on embarkation day:

 

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Muster drill:

 

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Water slide was a blast. Tried it when it was much warmer while in port at Nassau.

 

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Great job! Excellent photos.

 

The Fantasy looks just as good today as the last time I sailed on her two or three years ago!

 

:)

 

We are so glad we sailed on her as our first cruise. She is a beautiful ship and just the right size to really get into cruising.

 

I was amazed at how much work they were always doing on the ship. I have pics of them cleaning the windows, painting, etc.

 

It's incredible how much effort it takes to keep an ocean going vessel cleaned and looking good! :D

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DAY ONE – SEA DAY

 

Just as an aside, being the newbies that we were, we probably wasted some of our time going to a couple of the presentations. The destination shopping presentation was really a waste of time, as we found out during the visits to the ports.

 

We are pretty cheap in what we spend, and the “deals” that they discussed were probably good for those doing some serious gold and jewelry shopping, but not for us. The folks in the shops were real irritated about having to give away the “freebies.”

 

The first day at sea was nice overall, but not very warm as we were still too far north. I have no complaints however, because the cruises that were a couple before us had cold weather the whole time.

 

DW spent some time on the Lido deck soaking up the sun as it poked out from the clouds, and we had brief rain for a little while. I walked around the ship and took more pictures.

 

Too cool for the chair hogs:

 

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Seas were pretty calm:

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One thing that I observed were the number of kids on this cruise wasn’t very high. I think we counted 30-40 kids overall. The ages varied from couples in their 20’s to folks over 70. Good mixture of a crowd.

 

We both ate in the Windows on the Sea buffet for lunch, and went to the MDR for dinner. We both had shrimp and lobster tail for dinner, which was excellent.

They had two comedians onboard and we went to the adult show of the “Cowboy Comedian.” He was hilarious. We wanted to see the other comedian, but never had the chance.

 

One thing that I will say is that we did what we wanted, when we wanted. There were plenty of activities to choose from. We probably didn’t do more than most, but enjoyed spending time with each other, and relaxing.

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DAY TWO – NASSAU, BAHAMAS

 

One thing that we love about cruising compared to other vacations, is once you get on the ship, not only is it a great place to spend time on, but it takes you from port to port, no need to worry about traveling, driving, etc.

 

We woke up on Monday morning and were already docked in Nassau!

 

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Watched another cruise ship come in:

 

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The Carnival Glory was docked next to us! Too cool! I would like to cruise on Glory someday.

 

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Fantasy docked in port:

 

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Welcome to the Bahamas:

 

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Thank you for an awesome review so far and great pics!! We sail in 98 days and can't wait! Glad you both had a great first cruise!!

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Walked around downtown Nassau, we didn’t plan an excursion for this port. One thing that we saw some people doing was renting the scooters and exploring. Bad thing is they drive opposite of how we drive, there was much confusion and near collisions of many scooter riders. Glad we didn’t consider that!

 

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Greenpeace had a ship docked here:

 

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Once we had our fill of shopping, we thought we could go to Senor Frog’s and check it out. Good thought.

 

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One word of advice, DON’T make eye contact with the guy who has the microphone. I got drug up on stage to put on a show with three other guys, who had been there longer than us, and had consumed more adult beverages.

 

Thankfully, DW didn’t quite know how to take video using our camera. She would have had enough material on me for QUITE a while if she had.

 

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great review so far, love the pics and details you are giving. keep it coming we sail in 33 days so this is helping me a lot.

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Thanks to all for the positive comments. I know we learned so much from the great reviews and I hope that I can help in some small way with ours.

 

Sorry if I skip around a little bit. A couple words about room service. When you order, you have to specify everything you want. For example, if you want cereal, don’t forget the milk. Also, butter and jelly for the toast. We normally ordered two carafe’s of coffee. We really enjoyed that from the balcony.

 

We ended up ordering ours to show up a half hour later than we really wanted it, because they did come earlier then specified. We are pretty early risers, so we put between 8:00AM and 8:30AM and it was normally there between 7:30AM and 8:00AM. Seemed to work pretty well for us! Don’t forget to tip, normally $1 per item ordered, we generally tipped $4-5.

 

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Some more random shots from that day:

 

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Love that blue water:

 

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Oh wow! How can I forget the towel creatures that showed up in our cabin!?!

 

Here was the one from our first night:

 

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Love the bed turn-down service, and the chocolates!

 

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And, here is the one from the second night:

 

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I know I mentioned the diet deserts, had to take a picture of this one (ignore the portion that is gone):

 

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Our excursion tickets also showed up this night.

 

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One thing that we enjoyed watching was the ship’s info channel. It showed the Lido deck camera, as well as the maps on our progress. The speed and ocean depth was also shown on this screen.

 

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I was really impressed on how well Carnival has refurbished this ship. It did not show its age and the staterooms were large enough for us. I have been on other olders ships on other cruise lines and this ship looked the best by far. The crew was excellent and we enjoyed our excursions we booked to Atlantis on Nassau and the Jeep tour in Freeport was a blast. We took the trolley around in Key West to see all the sights. We went with our son and daughter-in-law and they also were first time cruisers and had a great time. Weather was perfect in the ports and we were so blessed with so much to do. We were never bored. I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone close to this port. It beats flying and you will have a great time.:D

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Walked around downtown Nassau, we didn’t plan an excursion for this port. One thing that we saw some people doing was renting the scooters and exploring. Bad thing is they drive opposite of how we drive, there was much confusion and near collisions of many scooter riders. Glad we didn’t consider that!

 

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Greenpeace had a ship docked here:

 

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Once we had our fill of shopping, we thought we could go to Senor Frog’s and check it out. Good thought.

 

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One word of advice, DON’T make eye contact with the guy who has the microphone. I got drug up on stage to put on a show with three other guys, who had been there longer than us, and had consumed more adult beverages.

 

Thankfully, DW didn’t quite know how to take video using our camera. She would have had enough material on me for QUITE a while if she had.

 

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OMG We got captured by the same guy with the mic in Sept. He was really funny though.

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DAY THREE – FREEPORT, BAHAMAS

 

We awoke in time to watch the ship come into port. They had the Pilot boat bring the harbor pilot out, and I got video of that. I had purchased a Kodak HD video camera, and that thing did a very nice job of recording both pictures and videos.

 

Here is the link to the video:

 

I had read about that on a couple reviews, it was cool that we could see it from our balcony!

 

Freeport is not much to look at, because it’s a working shipping port. It was neat watching them load the containers on the cargo ship that was in port. I don’t know how they keep track of what they are loading and unloading.

 

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We had the Dolphin Experience excursion purchased through Carnival/Unexso. They also have a Dolphin swim but to be honest, we wouldn’t have traded the two. It was a highlight of our cruise being that close to the dolphins.

 

Dolphin statue at the Unexso facility:

 

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We took a boat ride over to the dolphin area

 

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We got to be very close to the dolphin and pet it. He really liked DW and cuddled up close to her. I was afraid she would want to take him home! The water was pretty cold that day.

 

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We also got to hold the birds that they had around the area

 

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Geez, my school bus driver never drove with the door open, is that safe? :rolleyes:

 

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Getting ready to leave Freeport, not quite “Pier Runners” but close!

 

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So long Freeport:

 

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We ate in Windows on the Sea. Can’t recall what we ate, but we remember it was good! Never had a bad meal the whole week.

 

Here was our towel animal for the evening:

 

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Here’s the gang so far (unfortunately, they took the one from the first night):

 

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The week is going fast! Only one port and a sea day left until they kick us off.

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Great Review, thanks! Do you remember if they had Creme Brulee for dessert in the MDR? I hope so!!:D:D

 

I do remember seeing it on the menu, I just never ordered it. :D

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I hate to hijack a thread but I couldn't find a way to pm crusiecrazyk. Could you give more information around the Jeep tour in Freeport. My dh and I are sailing in March for our 10 yr anniversary (coincidence eh?) and are looking at that excursion.

 

Also to OP;

 

I see in January it looked warm enough for shorts and to swim and all. How hot would you say it got there?

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Great job! Excellent photos.

 

The Fantasy looks just as good today as the last time I sailed on her two or three years ago!

 

:)

It actually looks better :). It was refurbished at the end of '08. We were on the last cruise before dry dock in 08....the cruise that Hurricane Gustav cut short. We went back on her again in Feb. 09 and felt like we were on a different ship. I really does look amazing. I was sad that they took the Fantasy from New Orleans. We will be going on the Triumph in Feb. I know it is a bit bigger, but it won't be as nice as the Fantasy. I will miss the new Evolutions of fun water park that was added to the Fantasy :confused:....I think that only the Fantasy class ships got that.

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I hate to hijack a thread but I couldn't find a way to pm crusiecrazyk. Could you give more information around the Jeep tour in Freeport. My dh and I are sailing in March for our 10 yr anniversary (coincidence eh?) and are looking at that excursion.

 

Also to OP;

 

I see in January it looked warm enough for shorts and to swim and all. How hot would you say it got there?

 

It was in the mid-70's for all three ports. It was actually warm enough in port for Nassau that we got some nice sunshine and actually got in the Fantasy's pool for a bit. The water was still on the cold side but we got used to it!

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This is great so far! Thanks for sharing, can't wait to see the rest of the pics and hear about the remainder of your trip. We are doing this same trip in three weeks on the Fantasy.

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DAY FOUR – KEY WEST

 

We awoke early enough to watch Fantasy enter the port. The boat docked at the Navy Pier so we weren’t sure how they were going to get us to down-town initially, but then I started seeing the Conch Trains labeled “Shuttle” and I knew we were going to be in good shape.

 

Our “Pub Crawl” excursion wasn’t until 1:00PM, so we hopped on the shuttle bus to down-town Key West.

 

View of Fantasy & Fascination from our shuttle:

 

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Some pics of Key West:

 

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We got back to the ship in time to drop off the stuff we bought, and went back down to the pier to meet up for our excursion.

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Phil was our Pub Crawl excursion tour guide. They take you to five bars and you get a free drink at each bar. They mix up which bars you go to. Turns out Phil owns a bar in Key West, and they switch off days that they lead the excursion.

 

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Our first stop was the Tree Bar.

 

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The bartender made a really good drink, I’ll be darned if I can remember the name.

 

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He was a real character!

 

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Earnest Hemingway is really big in Key West. The tree had a brass plate that said he did a certain thing on the tree (sorry it’s real legible). I laughed for a while at that one!

 

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Oh yeah, here is Phil. He made the excursion a blast!

 

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The next bar was the “Flying Monkeys Saloon.” This bar had really good frozen drinks, Phil recommended the Flying Monkey. It was a combination of two frozen drinks, really good!

 

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On to our next bar!

 

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We walked for a bit to get to the next one. Passed some really nice older homes.

 

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