March 29 – On Board the Costa Magica
We woke up a little later than usual, around 8am. Carolyn had been up for a bit earlier but went back to sleep.
We showered and dressed and went to breakfast, again many yummy foods to choose from. After breakfast we went outside to take some pictures of the lovely gardens and pool and views. This is a terrific hotel in every way!
Back in the room we packed everything up and then relaxed while we waited for our transfer to the ship. The driver came for us at noon and the drive to the ship was about 10 minutes.
We were pleased by the attractive building that served as the entry point. When two gentlemen came for our luggage, there was shock and dismay that we did not have our Costa luggage tags, lengthy discussion but they finally made us new ones. The Italians are a chatty people. J
We went inside, showing our boarding pass and passport several times. We were assigned to board with group 13. We saw someone with a group 16 pass, but are not sure how high the numbers went. We filled out a little questionnaire, making sure we do not have Ebola and when our group was called we needed to turn those in. When they checked Carolyn’s passport they could not find the stamp from our arrival and it looked like there would be a problem. However I had our air info in the travel notebook and that satisfied what they needed. All the Europeans got to keep their passports, everyone else turned them in to be returned at the end of the journey.
Finally we were in the ship. It is huge and beautifully decorated in a baroque style we both like. We headed to our room, #7431, and 2 of our 4 bags were at the door. The other two came later. We also met Jefferson, our steward and asked him for more hangers. Inside we found some information and our Costa cards. Our room is big and nice, just like the pictures and our balcony is wonderful. We unpacked, and that in itself made us happy, no more digging through suitcases. We had a note from the excursion office asking me to come by, so I left Carolyn to hang out and went to take care of it. There was a set of elevators and stairs near our room and so I took them on my way to the Excursion desk on the 3rd floor. However, that set goes to only one part of the ship. After seeking help I went to another area, it was being used for luggage and I could not use it. Finally, after about 30 annoying minutes I found my way to the excursion desk and got in the long line. I had both our cards and when it was my turn, I paid for the Barcelona excursion; 49.95E for each of us. Since we are only in Barcelona for 5 hours, this seems like the best plan.
Back at the cabin we decided to visit the shops, which were closed. As we walked back to the cabin we saw lots of people with their life jackets. If they had announced it was time for the drill, neither of us heard it. We were lucky that the drill exit was very close to our room. We put on our life vests and joined the crowd. They had everyone line up in rows of 4, women and children in front. Then we held up our room cards and they quick scanned them. They gave drill instructions in multiple languages and demonstrated the life jackets. It lasted about 20 boring minutes.
Once back in the cabin we realized we were hungry so we headed for the buffet. Thanks to my being lost, we were able to find it on the first try, I had spotted it earlier. I saw people eating spaghetti when we went in, but there was no spaghetti to be found, odd. I had fish, carrots, potatoes and bread. Carolyn had salad and pizza and focaccia bread. She also tried a small pastry dessert. We drank water. When we left the buffet we went back to the room to relax. We enjoyed some balcony time once we realized the ship was moving. Carolyn reminded me to put on my seasick bands but I could not find them so I went to the shop to buy some. 14 E. Mine are here somewhere, but I can’t find them.
Our dinner seating was at 6:30. By now we had realized that most of the passengers are Italian, according to the paperwork, 75% of the Costa passengers are Italian. This made us wonder about our dinner companions. Something I read turned out to be true because they seat people together based on language. We were very lucky and have a table of 8 with very agreeable companions. Larry and Linda are actually residents of Orange County. Their son is the drummer for a band called Off Spring. Emmet and Andrea are civilian military workers living in Germany, Emmet is very funny and does accents really well. Keyne and her sister Courtney are two young women from Australia who are substitute teaching in England to have the opportunity to travel. Keyne is also hoping to break into the theatre. She is a very pretty girl with beautiful, silky hair, but they are both delightful. There were two empty seats and of course Carolyn and I. We chatted throughout the meal, in large and small groups. The menu was large with 6 courses and 3 choices for each. There was also a special menu that never changes in case one does not like the featured items. I foolishly ordered from each course and it was too much food. First I had an octopus salad, yum! Then trofie pasta, which Candy had recommended. This is a delicious pasta and I hope to have it again. Next came a salad which I simply sent back, I was already almost full. Then came my prime rib, which everyone except Courtney had ordered, she got the lamb. The food was very well prepared. Next a cheese plate which I gave to Keyne and finally my chocolate ice cream, which I ate. My waiter was worried about me because I hardly touched the prime rib, but I was so stuffed from the other items and it was important to leave room for ice cream! Carolyn had a vegetable soup, cesear salad and prime rib and cheese and ice cream. In the information packet it said that at the “American tables they would ask if we wanted our salad at the beginning or end of the meal.” I guess everyone else has it at the end of the meal. We drank water with our meal, we had included it in our package or else we would have had to pay for it. Dinner was a laughing, talking, getting to know each other and eat yummy foods event and we look forward to more.
Since there was another sitting to prepare for, we did not linger long but were among the last to leave. Carolyn and I walked around a little bit and watched the couples dancing, we could have stayed much longer but we are both tired. We wanted bottled water for the room and discovered it was sold at the bar. We got two
one liter bottles for 6.49E
We are now back in the room. It is 10pm and Carolyn is already asleep. I realize I forgot to get coffee, but I am not going back out, hopefully I will not get a headache.
All is well, and we hope you are all well also.
Tomorrow afternoon, Barcelona!
March 30 – What A Day!
We were both pretty tired yesterday so we were ready for bed pretty early. We both slept well and Carolyn slept till 9:30. I was up earlier so after a shower and dressing I went to the buffet with my handy travel mug and got coffee for me and decaf for Carolyn.
I was surprised that there were so many couples dancing at that time of day, but this cruise is filled with party hard people. Back in the room, she slept on and I went to our balcony, there was a bit of sun and I sat, drank coffee, looked at the ocean and I was happy. Once Carolyn woke up, she got ready quickly and we went in search of food. Lost for a while we finally found a place with some, not many, breakfast foods and had a bit. I had rice krispies, yum!
We decided to visit the ships gallery of (4) shops. I first took Carolyn to meet Renata, a very nice woman who works in a shop. I had met her earlier, when I was lost, and liked her very much. She wears badges from several countries. Each badge represents the languages she speaks. Carolyn liked her too. We ended up each buying a necklace, Carolyn got a beautiful silver and black knotted chain and I got a little pendent that looks like a compass. We strolled around the other stores and then went back to the room to prepare for our Barcelona excursion.
Armed with coats, sweaters, shoulder purses, cameras and walking shoes we headed for the disembarkation area. OMG, there were a million people crammed together pushing in one direction. AND the elevator opened into this crowd. Of course we eventually got off the ship and onto our number 5 bus. We sat in two front seats. Our guide Michelle did a great job but because of the small numbers of non Italian passengers we had to have a dual language tour. It was fine, she spoke in German and then repeated in English or vice versa. The only bad thing was, this meant she was talking a lot and if the English chatted with each other when she spoke German, we got shushed and vice versa.
We drove first to a high point in the city and got out to take pictures of Barcelona lying below. It was a beautiful sight. We saw the Olympic Stadium from 1992 and other interesting buildings and then we stopped at a “pretend” village. When the Olympics were held in Barcelona, they wanted the world to see all the villages of Spain. To accomplish this they took photos from all over Spain and built a village with examples of architecture from the entire country. We were here for 45 minutes but Carolyn and I soon lost interest in the info and went shopping. I bought several bookmarks and Carolyn bought a surprise for someone. She also bought a beautiful picture. Once on the bus, we were driving away when someone shouted out that the two Chinese girls were missing. We all began to worry and the bus went back (about 4 blocks) and Michelle leaped out to find them. They came back with her and one was crying as she apologized having misunderstood the time. We tried to assure her we were just glad to find them, but she cried and apologized on and off though out the tour.
Our next stop was Gaudi’s magnificent cathedral, begun in 1882 it is still under construction. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We could not go inside but the outside was so amazing. It has a child like quality that I have not seen before. It is no wonder that Barcelona is so proud to claim Gaudi.
The exciting part of our day happened on the way back to the bus. Our tour group was pretty spread out, it was so much more walking than any of the older guest expected, so it was slow going. Carolyn and I were far back with about 8 other people when we all saw an altercation of some sort. I thought a man was molesting a woman, Carolyn thought the woman was drunk or having a fit. What we saw was an older man grabbing a woman around the back and holding her as she struggled. Both were yelling. Turns out the man, from our group, had felt this woman’s hand in his pocket and they were struggling for possession of HIS wallet. He finally grabbed it back and when he released her she sauntered away with a smirk. She was attractive, well dressed and maybe in her early twenties. WOW. It had a happy ending so it was exciting. Our guide was so sorry to miss it, she said she would have hit the woman with her Costa sign. We applauded the man and called him a hero, but I hope his wife takes his wallet away from his saggy pants and open pockets.
Our next and last stop was at a very pretty cathedral. We walked along a wonderful shopping street to get there but did not get to stop and shop at all. At the church we waited in line for a while and then got to go in ahead of others because we had a reservation. It was lovely inside, the stained glass, the statues in real gold, the beautiful pews, some that kings had sat in. We exited through the back and the gardens were great. There was a flock of huge white geese, safely behind a fence, for us to gawk at. After what seemed an endless walk we reached the bus. We passed the statue of Christopher Columbus and then were back at the boat. It had been a good, if somewhat fast paced tour.
We went straight to dinner, and joined tow others who were also back. Dinner was good, I had pici pasta as Candy had recommended, it was delicious. I also had spaghetti and meatballs, which were probably not good since they tasted just like home – lol. Oh, and coffee ice cream for dessert.
Keyne, our young Aussie dinner companion, was planning to sing at the karaoke audition and I promised to come by. In the room Carolyn and I decided to have breakfast in the room in the morning. I blogged for a while and then, it was 10:30 and time to go hear Keyne.
The karaoke room was full and I stayed for about 8 performances. Keyne had a great voice but not much stage presence. A man who sang in Spanish was very good as was a 16 year old girl. The others ranged from blah to awful. Tomorrow Keyne competes again.
I bought 2 hours of internet for 20E, since I have been unable to buy a sim card. So far, the internet is useless, but I have hope.
Tomorrow is a sea day and we plan to relax and enjoy ourselves. We don’t have to worry about how much we eat, we have to walk miles to get anywhere on this ship, I can’t imagine anything larger and yet there are much bigger ships.
That’s all for now.