I am a Cannon guy myself.
and i would tell you GET THE G11..
ok.... thats my opinion, if i was going to buy a point and shoot, or semi point and shoot, there would be no though for me, i would just get it....
When i lived in Hawaii, i did a LOT of photography, and i have quite a few friends that still live there, and one of them has the G11, and his shots are awesome, very sharp.
Oh and the G11 has Attachments, so it can be a Semi SLR, but still a point and shoot, it also has a hotshoe so you can get a nice flash for it if you so choose later.. i think its pretty much the best of both worlds.....Oh and it can shoot in RAW, this is important to me, because i usually print 16X20 or larger, and so will you soon enough
G11 sample, probably has pro lighting though... but still good example.
HOLY crap, i didn't realize how big that image, was. but i did notice they are using light boxes, and probably using the wireless attachment on the G11..http://www.dpreview.com/
I will say, Nikon are good also, my Uncle is a Nikon guy, and they have some nice products as well...
Anyhow, there is a lot to learn... main thing is to enjoy going to new places and seeing all kinds of cool stuff.