Friday, December 8, 2017

Photos of Curacao

This morning after the pool we wandered the ship, eventually settling on a British style pub lunch in a cosy dining room (no buffet for us today, except for a couple of cookies of course!).

Now it is time for some deck time and maybe a nap.

This might be sent sometime in the future as it isn't posting...

Another test post, this time on our sea day

I did a post of photos from Curacao this morning but haven't gotten it to post yet.

Curacao our last island

Our excursion in Curacao wasn't until 1pm so we spent some time in the pool this morning. Cirque de Soleila was playing on the big screen. Since it was a port day the pool was virtually empty and we even had the hot tub to ourselves for a while.

We had a quick lunch (way too huge) and then got off the ship to look at a few little shops and get in line up for our excursion. Today's was the least interesting of our trip. 'Made in Curacao' was the theme - we went to the Curacao factory, then a micro brewery, and finally an aloe vera farm. The island is mostly flat and dry with cacti showing up around the city. The houses are colourful.

We got back to the boat in time to change for supper and meet Lana and Peter at 'our' table. The food was fantastic: goat cheese souffle, scallops in a citrus sauce, and we shared an extra plate of gnocchi, dessert was a trio of chocolate delicious bites. I'm so full. (belt buckle gets loosened one notch).

After a short rest we went to the theater for perhaps the best show of the cruise. Tom Franek was a fantastic piano player and did all sorts of tricks. Very entertaining. Oh, he has an online presence on youtube etc.

It's 11:15 am on Friday now, I'll post this without photos and add them later. We've already spent some time at the pool; Grease is playing on the big screen. Not sure that this is the right demographic, but I enjoyed it. We got to the pool at 9:30 and already most of the deck lounges were staked out. People put a towel and a few personal belongings on their chairs and then don't show up for hours. Very annoying...

As it was, we were back and forth from our chairs a few times. Heat up in the sun, dunk in the pool, repeat. The pool wasn't too busy until we left, then it was filled with bobbing bodies.

Might do some shopping now and then it will be lunch time. Tonight is formal night so we'll get dressed up again :-)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Granada spice trail and Bonaire

It is now Wednesday, our tour in Granada was yesterday, but I was too tired to write last night. We are still underway towards Bonaire - we are expected to arrive at noon today.

Our tour in Granada took us into the heart of the island to a jam factory and then further to a herb and spice garden. Our final stop was a rum factory in a beautiful setting. The island is lovely with lots of flowers, banana trees, and pretty pastel coloured homes. Lots of dogs relaxing on front steps. It is hilly but not as extreme as Martinique. We did go up and down a few hills that were certainly more than 15% grade. It felt like we were going straight down!

The bus was a small 30 seater, more nimble on the curving roads than the big one from Martinique.

We met a nice couple at happy hour, had a quick rest, then met Lana and Peter for supper in the dining room. I managed to stay up for the show, but gosh, I was tired.

You can probably tell from my blog posts that I am getting more and more tired. I'm exhausted. I don't know if I'm cut out for such an active vacation! Plus I'm terribly homesick. I miss the dogs and Grace.

I think, no I know, that I'm gaining weight, despite all the stairs. I'm talking 25+ flights of stairs every day. But still, I shovel food into my face at an alarming rate. Lets see, yesterday for breakfast I had smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and melon; for lunch a few ribs and some pasta; for supper a black bean soup followed by a shrimp and rice dish. Oh yeah, and creme brule for dessert...

Carm is having a grand time. He's been restrained with political talk, although I left him upstairs at breakfast talking with a couple of Floridians - they were of like mind.

The weather has been fantastic. Except for the rain in Granada, which only lasted 15 minutes or so (we were standing outside in the spice garden huddled under an umbrella with a couple from Richmond, which is just outside Ottawa. This morning I passed by the pool and was tempted to forgo today's excursion and instead spend the day by the pool.

It is almost 11:30, (45 minutes before our excursion in Bonaire), and I am back from the pool! A 'quick' swim seemed like a good idea after all and with lots of time before we had to disembark it seemed crazy to deny ourselves. The pool was the busiest we've seen it: around 8 people floated around watching a Cheryl Crow concert on the big screen. We ran into Lana and Peter, not literally, although almost, in the pool.

It is now after our fantastic excursion into the mangrove forest, a wonderful supper, and a great show in the theatre. Time for a quiet evening with a movie in our room: 'Beauty and the Beast', which we caught parts of from the pool a few days ago.

I'm glad for a bit of a rest.

I'll post photos of Bonaire tomorrow or the day after, depending on internet speed.

Grenada and getting into Bonaire

I'm having trouble posting again... not sure if it is the ships wifi or the blogaway pro software... anyway... we are still having fun although I am getting more tired by the day! I'll need a vacation from this vacation.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

St. Thomas a bit of shopping

We are in hot and sunny St. Thomas. We took a stroll around the shopping area near the port - I was on the hunt for the bracelet that I didn't buy last year. I think I found it, or at least a close facsimile. Happy me :-)

After our little walk we came back to the ship for some pool time. A Santana concert was playing on the giant screen by the pool so it was very pleasant to lounge and listen to the music.

More eating... oh my big belly! I'm pretty sure I'm gaining weight despite the hundreds of stairs we are doing. We are even taking the stairs to the 16th floor most times.

Happy hour... Pina Colada for Jo Ellen again. She's making me drink too much!

Supper... tenderloin and huge shrimp for the main course. Delicious. I'm really getting into this dining room thing. The food is better than the buffet and the service is impecable. White linens and silver cutlery make for a luxurious experience.

After supper we found seats and watched people ballroom dancing. We made a pact that we'll practice before our next cruise - we've made the same pact before though.

Unfortunately we left too late for the theater so couldn't get seats together. The show was a comedian who was pretty funny. I sat next to a jeweler who pointed out that my bracelet was pao shell and not blue opal. Well dumb me. As soon as he said it I knew he was right. Oh well, I have a nice necklace anyway and as a bonus it matches a few of my necklaces. The bad thing is I paid way too much... must put that out of my head.

We had cheese and crackers back in our room and then it was bedtime.

A good day.

Martinique 10x Kirstens road

We docked in Martinique today. It was slightly cloudy with heat and humidity.

Our excursion today took us around the island on roads that rivaled Kirsten's road in New Zealand. Except we were on it for 1 1/2 hours! One lady called out for plastic bags part way through the trip - I could hear her heaving in the background. I managed to keep my cookies down, but gosh it was a challenge.

One of our stops was in a town that had been wiped out by a volcano in 1902. There has been some rebuilding but the town has never fully recovered. Interesting ruins of a theater that had lovely views overlooking the volcano.

Our last stop was at a rum factory. After the tour of the premisis we sampled a few varieties before choosing one to bring home. 

We had supper in the dining room again with Lana and Peter. Chateaubriand for me - I'm sure getting my fill of beef!

After supper Carm and I had a quick swim before getting dressed for the theatre. We got there 1/2 hour early, but already nearly every seat was filled. We had to make due with seats right in the front row. As usual they put on a fantastic performance.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

At sea splishn and a splashn

I don't know if you can tell or if my posts just seem wildly disjointed, but I write a few paragraphs throughout the day.

Now it is 12:30 pm - we've had our breakfast and for the first time cruising, been to the pool.

My self-self-consciousness of being in a bathing suit soon dissipated as the parade of other bathers passed by my lounge chair. We stretched out and luxuriated in the hot humid air, until eventually, we were warm enough to make the plunge. The salty water was cool and moved with the roll of the boat making us bob like buoys in the ocean. Back on deck I tried to stay out of the sun - no sunscreen on and hot Caribbean sun is not a good mix for fair skin. Lots of tanned people around - I look like beluga whale amongst all the brown bodies.

I don't know how many times we said "this is the life"!

Now we are back in the room for a short rest and to do a bit of laundry. We don't have enough clothes packed to make the whole cruise without washing a few things as the days pass.

Somehow the time between breakfast and lunch flashed by. After putzing around we dashed to Crooners to get a seat for 4 - we were meeting Lana and Peter for happy hour.

Tonight was formal night so we spent some extra time getting ready for supper. The silver dress and Carm's suit came out of the closet (none the worse for wear after their travels) and we got all dolled up.

We met Lana and Peter at 5pm for an early supper. Peter reserved a table by the window so we watched the water pass by as we enjoyed a delicious supper.

This is the line up at the dining room door :-o

After dinner we went to the theatre for a production by the Princess dancers. It was a great show. One of the numbers was a male singer singing 'Somewhere over the rainbow' in the style of that Hawaiian performer - I love that song. Shenna, I thought of you when we were watching the dancers!

Okay, I'd better end it here as I've totally lost my words and can't remember all the scintillating tidbits that I was going to share. Good night!


my post for yesterday (at sea a splishn and a splashn) didn't post and I don't know why. This is a test to see if it will work without any photos.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Princess Cays - water wings

We woke up bright and early after a good nights sleep. A peek out the window showed the island of Eleuthra gliding by in the distance. We weren't scheduled to anchor for an hour and a half which left lots of time for Carm to run on the track, showers and a delicious breakfast where we met some people from Michigan. Vicky and Dave were our age (unlike the majority of other sailors - there are more wheelchairs and walkers than you can shake a stick at!), and we had a delightful conversation.

Back in our room we got into our bathers and prepared for a morning on the beach. This was our first beach experience in the Caribbean and it won't be our last. The tender took us over to Princess Cays (pronounced Keys), a private resort. We found a few lounge chairs in the shade of a tall palm tree and settled down to get hot. It wasn't long before the blue waters tempted us to wade into the warm water. Oh bliss.

Thoughts of home vanished for a while as we bobbed in the gentle waves. The water was so clear that we could see there were no sharks nearby so we bobbed a while longer. We didn't see any fish though. Perhaps if we had snorkeled a little farther out from shore.

Rinse and repeat. More lounging and people watching (we both feel tiny), and then another swim. More lounging, a pina colada for Jo Ellen, and we were ready to come back on the ship.

I kick myself that I didn't fork out for a water camera. It would have been so fun to get photos of the ship from the beach, and us splashing in the water. I would have loved to capture the blue waters - it was an impossible shade of blue.

Apres Happy hour:

We are back in our room for 1/2 an hour - just enough time to write a few words and then get changed into dress-up clothes. Not fancy, fancy, dress up (that will be tomorrow), but black jeans and a fancy top. Carm will wear dress pants, a nice golf shirt and horror of horrors: shoes and socks.

We met Lana and Peter at Crooners for happy hour, (Jo Ellen and Don - we missed you). The wait staff have changed since our Med cruise but have been replaced with equally friendly workers. Our server was a charming Grace.

We met Lana and Peter at the dining room for another blue hair special. The food was fantastic and the company pleasant. After supper we hung around in the piazza until it was time to find seats for the show.

Tonight it was a cheezie old time singer/entertainer. Mark Preston's specialty was old classics, like the ones Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra would sing. The person in the seat next to me (not Carm), clapped like crazy and was soon singing along... wait. what? is that my voice too? Well, yes it was. I love nothing better than a bit of cheese and in all honesty this guy was pretty good.

Now it's time for bed. I'm beat and am sure to fall asleep quickly tonight.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

come sail away

We are taking a break from the hub-bub in our cabin, soon the safety briefing will commence and we'll take our lifevests to our muster station: the stinky casino.

It was another long day of hurry up and wait. We both woke up just after 7am (well, I had hardly slept), showered and went down for breakfast. There was a neat pancake making machine - I gotta get me one of those! Carm left me to finish my coffee while he ran across the street to pick up some more toothpaste and some wine. We got our bags repacked and sat down to wait.

Then we hurried downstairs to check out and then wait for the shuttle. Rush to get on the bus, wait. Get off the bus, wait for suitcase, rush to end of line, wait as the line snaked through all the check points. Hurry up and into the ship. We made it! We quickly found our room, unpacked, then went for a quick lunch - yes, the eating festival has begun. Oh boy.

I made it sound all bad but in fact it was a lovely time and we met some lovely people. First there was the young couple Natalie and Shawn that we met on the shuttle last night. Then there was the couple where he had biked around Europe extensively. Then the couple from Texas whose house had been just a few miles from the flood. Then on the bus a delightful couple (Dainette and Scott). She had a smile that would light up any room. Finally, at lunch we sat with Linda and Tony, a lovely couple from Edmonton.

At the muster we sat with two sisters and a husband who were from North but they grew up in New York City. They were from Italian descent so there was much in common. Linda, Diane, and Skip were delightful.

I don't know if it is because this is the first day or it if will always be like that but no matter where we turn we are meeting new people. It is fun but honestly it will get to be tiring. There is something to be said for travelling with friends!

My head is spinning from all this socializing! We took a few minutes to relax down on the mezzanee where we watched a few couples ballroom dance. We kicked oursleves that we hadn't practiced our moves - bad bad oversight.

We took a short rest in the stateroom after we cast off, but not long as we were planning for the blue plate special 5:15 supper in the dining room. Early I know, but we wanted to catch the early show (which we did and more of that later). In the line up we started talking with Lana and Peter, a couple from Kingston and joined up with them for supper.

After supper we all went to the theatre for the show: some dancers and a comedian (not together). We had some pretty good laughs.

It's now past 8pm and we are in our room. My head is spinning from the eventful day. I'll get this posted then chill with a glass of wine before lights out.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

on our way

It's 9:30 am and we are sitting at the gate, hours and hours before our departure time. Why so early? Well, "they" say to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of time. Not to mention, I get antsy and restless until I'm actually sitting at the gate.

I'm starting to get over the upset of leaving home. Spike was a mess, shaking and hiding, until I said something that sounded (to him) like he was coming with us. That perked him up plenty. My heart broke seeing his sad face as we shut the door behind us. Poor wee thing. He's smart and knows we are going away for a while, but not smart enough to figure out that we'll be back.

Pat, the pet sitter, came over last night to join us for supper and give the dogs a chance to get comfortable with her again. Plus I could show her where all the food is.

We dropped the car off at Mom's and she was good enough to drive us to the airport. A quick visit with my parents was a great way to start the day off.

Mad dash through the airport... scarf is missing, did I leave it at security? It turns out no, but I'd dropped it on the floor and a shop keeper picked it up. Lucky save! This scarf has accompanied me around the world.

Two thirty and we've been  here in Montreal for a few hours. The flight from YOW to YUL was quick and easy. We flew over our house! We bumbled through security and customs and arrived at the gate with time to spare. Lots of time to spare. We must have been travelling in a 'hole' as there have been no lineups anywhere. We hardly needed the convenience of NEXUS.

I got lots of steps on my fitbit getting from one gate to the other - gosh it was far. Luckily we had lots of time and didn't have to run. Nothing like running in the airport for your flight.

We are here! Let me tell you when we got on the plane and found out they'd changed our window seat for the middle my spirits sunk... the middle... YUCK. The plane was packed with people squeezing all manner of luggage into the overhead bins leaving little space for ours. With a shoehorn and a bit of luck we got it stowed.

Sat down (me in the middle of the middle) and the guy on my right is hanging all over the armrest leaving me little space. And he was a heavy smoker. I almost choked. I reminded myself that it was just 3 1/2 hours and that I'd survive, and after all wouldn't it make for a funny story.

As it turns out, we started chatting, discovering many common interests, the time went by quickly. Bob is a businessman in his late 60s travelling with his son (across the aisle) for business. He is divorced after 44 years, lonely, and not sure where to take his life.

Maybe I was just charmed cause he said how good I looked for my age and that Carm and I are lucky to have each other. He's right. About the lucky  part. But our trip went quickly and before we knew it we had touched down safely.

Carm has just run out for some big macs and then it is time for bed. We've been on the road for 13 1/2 hours and I'm beat!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Christmas Train

My nose turned bright red with the wind whipping at my face. I had worn the wrong coat too - a fleece jacket just doesn't stop the wind, Carm was better off in his leather jacket. Brrrr... I tried with not much luck to snuggle into my coat. Luckily I had my crazy faux-fur hat to keep my head warm.

Chooo whoooo! Clackity clack, clackity clack. Slowly she approached us. Decked out in christmas lights (that would be wonderful in the dark), the train passed us and pulled to a stop. The Christmas Train was here!

We admired her restored passenger cars and then headed back to our car, with its heated seats and windproof windows. We were back home before we knew it.

Did you watch the Grey Cup game last night? I was cheering for Calgary and was on the edge of the seat for much of the last half. (I just may have stood up a few times). Too bad for the Stampeders but darn it was a good game. Years ago we would have had a big celebration with lots of tasty treats to fuel us. We haven't done anything like that for ages - this year would have been a good one to reinstate that tradition as the game was played in Ottawa, complete with snow.

Two more sleeps till the 12 hour marathon day of hurry up and wait.

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” 
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Another Test - this time of offline publishing

Today I'm trying to write a draft offline and then test to see what happens when I publish offline as well. Will it keep the post in a buffer to be published as soon as internet access is restored? Or will it just give an error.

With a few jumps through hoops I've managed to get the bluetooth connection between my phone and my tablet working. This will enable me to transfer photos from my phone without any internet access - handy for setting up posts on our trip.

I'll try to add a few more random photos to test the publishing speed.

Wish me luck!

(note: publish failed and it didn't keep it in a buffer to repost later. Will have to post from here with an active wifi connection).

"Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 24, 2017

Some more testing and already packed

Some more testing and already packed

I've exceeded my past performance and am now already packed... we don't leave until next week. What will I do to burn off the excitement or channel the anxiety? There are some things that I can't work ahead on: dusting and vacuuming have to wait till closer to leaving time. Pat's room is all ready for her, clean sheets and fresh towels await. I've been gradually making up containers of Grace's favorite foods to have in the freezer (which reminds me, I should make up some kraft dinner for her.)

The blog writing tool that I downloaded is a little awkward. You enter the contents in sections, each of which can have one or more photos at the top. Sections can't be re-arranged or re-ordered so I'll have to do a bit of advance planning when I sit down to write. I pretty much just blurb everything out though. It will take some getting  used to.

Hopefully, all in all, it works better than my old method which was to write in Google Docs, edit the photos to resize, back in Google Docs I would insert the photos, then I would copy and paste the whole shebang into Blogger and publish. It worked okay, but the photos ended up small in the printed copy of my blog. And it was a lot of steps.

This lets me add the photos without editing them, but I won't know how they print until into the new year.

Also, the old method wouldn't post the photos on the slow internet of the ship. I have high hopes for this app to work better. In a few days we'll know! And if it doesn't work I'll have to jump through some hoops when I get home.

It is above zero today, but the thick clouds and blustery wind make it slightly unpleasant. I did get the dogs out a few times though.

We had a lovely supper at my parents last night, visiting with my cousin Pam and her husband Ron. I don't know her very well as she lives on the west coast and her's was a branch of the family that we rarely visited. It was great to reconnect with her.

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” 
― Arthur C. Clarke

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Test of blog on new tablet, plus new app

I got an early Christmas present - the deals are so good right now, and since my old tablet is starting to get a bit wonky we decided to get a replacement. So far I like it, although I find the cursor a bit jumpy at times, maybe I'm just getting used to the new keyboard.

Aside from setting up my new device we did some entertaining. Dave, Trudie and Leo joined us for a spirited evening last night. Dave got lost (again) so the soup turned to stew but I guess it was still okay. Regardless, it didn't stop us from sitting at the table for ages discussing everything under the sun.

One bad thing: no spell check again :-( And for someone who is excessively spelling disabled this is a bad thing.

I've added a few random photos to test the functionality of Blogger dashboard. Usually I write my blog in Google Docs, then add some really small photos, then paste it into Blogger app. Adding the photos in the dashboard might work better, but I'd better test without internet access (like I'll have on the ship), and with photos from my camera's memory card. Wait. I already know the answer: it won't work because blogger dashboard is a website. Darn. I used to have an awesome blog writing tool but it aged out as the developer no longer supported it. That was years ago and since then no better apps have surfaced.

(a while later) I've downloaded a new app and it seems to work(ish).

Monday, November 20, 2017

soup will cure

By 10:30 this morning both instant pots were coming up to pressure. By 12:30 seven containers of minestrone soup were ladled out into matching containers. Oh bliss to have more comfort food stored in the freezer. When I reheat it, I’ll add in some pasta and chopped mushrooms to transform it into an Italian classic: Pasta Fagioli.

While the soup was cooking, I started organizing stuff for our trip (aka packing). I wanted to make sure Carm had enough smaller shirt to wear, and to see what fit in our carry-on bags vs the big suitcase. It is still a week and a few days away but I’m all for advance planning! The packing spurred Carm into a reorg/purge of his corner of the closet (which I’ve been suggesting for weeks).

We took a break in the middle to re-energize ourselves with a little bowl of soup - had to make sure I got the herbs right ;-)

All in all it was a satisfying day. I loved seeing the freezer with uniform rows of neatly labeled food. And seeing another large bag leave the house for the thrift shop warmed my heart.

The sun has finally peeked out from the nasty snow laden clouds and I stuck my nose outside for a few minutes. The trees were glittering with a sparkle from the ice that coated their limbs, and as I walked down the laneway a flock of geese flew overhead. They were low in the sky so must have been looking for somewhere to spend the night. For a few moments I enjoyed the beauty of winter.

When I called the dogs to go inside, they raced full-speed up to the door. They had fun being outside, but were more than happy to get into the warmth. Rosemary, thyme and oregano flavoured the air as I stepped inside the house, warming me through and through.

Once back in, the dogs fell asleep in the sun and I cuddled into the little sliver that hits the sofa. I looked out the (dirty) window and saw the trees sparkle with ice, all topped off with some fluffy white snow. The legions of butterflies that flitted in the clover this fall came to mind. It is going to be a long slog till spring - especially without a trip to New Zealand to break the winter up.

The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.”
~John Steinbeck

Sunday, November 19, 2017

star bright

Gosh, it has been ages since I last posted. It’s not like I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to put fingers to keyboard, it is more like the connection from brain to finger is broken. No, not that. It’s the brain that’s been the problem. A fog has wrapped itself through my head, leaving me dull and thoughtless. It’s not a depressed kind of fog though (thankfully), just a cognitive one.

Now I’ll try to detail some of the highlights as I don’t want to forget them.

I’ll start with the mundane. The poodles got a haircut last Wednesday - they are shorn so short we can almost see their skin. Unfortunately I wasn’t handy with a brush for the last while so their tails and ears had mats in them - off all the hair came, leaving them totally puff-less. This morning it didn’t come as a surprise that they didn’t want to spend time outside in the newly fallen snow (our first this year). Even Spike was huddling next to the door to get inside quickly.

This weekend Mom and I went to Montreal to help with my 5 ½ year old niece while her mother, Tammy, worked at the school fundraiser. We had a great time with Freya - I think both Mom and I were happy to get some one on one time with her. Funny story at the school fair: we were in the ‘craft room’ and while Freya was busy we started talking with her teacher. She immediately assumed that both Mom and I were her grandmothers. WTF!!!!! I tried not to show the horror in my face but immediately corrected her that I was an Aunt. I realized later, with a little counting back on my fingers, that I could be a grandmother if life had been different. Oh boy. I’m that old now :-(

Last weekend Carm and I went to Montreal for a night to spend with my brother Olaf and his family. It was a beautiful day for a drive and we had a lovely evening with them. Sunday morning we all packed into Olaf’s car for a drive deeper into the city. We were going to a pre-screening of the latest movie Olaf had been involved with. ‘The Star’ was a delightful animated film about the birth of Jesus. It was funny, warm, and touching - it even brought tears to both Carm and my eyes. If you have a chance to see it, look for Olaf’s name in the credits :-)  (I was the proud sister as we met his team and other co-workers).

I haven’t done much cooking over the last week and a half: supper at Trudie & Leo’s, lunch @ Jo Ellen and Don’s, supper 3 times @ Olaf & Tammy’s, chicken shawarma take-out one night. It’s no wonder the scale hasn’t budged in a few weeks. And it will be less than two weeks till we feast again on the cruise. Oh boy - good thing I have some stretchy waist things :o/

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow