Category Archives: Uncategorized

April 3 – Cadiz – nope, at sea instead

Well, we were awakened at 9 am by an announcement from the captain. Those announcements have an importance about them. He repeated himself twice in Italian and then someone did English twice and then each of the other languages. Apparently there was a “bureaucratic” issue with 2 passengers and we had to leave port very late. Due to this we have been forced to skip Cadiz and go straight to Lisbon, with an 11pm arrival.

I gossiped with my friend on the crew (no names for safety) and it looks as though it was a drug bust, trying to get a kilo of marijuana. What idiots. In Morrocco, of all places, they are probably in prison, though I haven’t found that out yet.

Our friends Andrea and Emmett are unable to use their Alicante excursion, because Emmett has a business phone call he must take on that day, so Carolyn and I will buy it from them, works out for all of us.

This morning we went all over the ship trying to find breakfast. The one restaurant that has a hot, American breakfast to order was closed due to the delay and opens for lunch instead. All we could find was cold cereal, cold meats, cheese and about 20 different donuts. I had some dry frosted flakes and cheese and bread. Carolyn tried some of the cold meats. We sat by a window with a teenage girl who was happily eating donuts. Her English was limited but when I asked her if she had donuts for breakfast at home she laughed and said oh no, only brown bread.

The sea is very rough, handrails are needed for walking around and sea sick pills are being handed out. We are both fine, though I am fighting a major headache. We went shopping, I got a few items in the Costa shop and Carolyn bought something also. We wish there were more shops, 3 is fine when you get off the ship most of the time but not too much when you have a sea day. Oh well, our wallets will be fuller for Lisbon. Lol

When Terry and I took our Holland Cruise we had ads for things to buy on the ship, especially art, in our cabin mailbox every day, many times several times a day. On this ship they do not do that at all, they don’t even sell art. That is nice. The photo shop does a large business and snap posed and candid shots all the time. My camera is not downloading as easily as I wish so I spoke to them about it. I am using the wrong cord and the nice guy told me to stop because I was going to hurt my camera. He showed me a few other things, like a mass delete and so, the rest of the photos will stay on the camera card till I get home.

There are a few parent and adult child couples aboard. We chatted yesterday with a nice young man from Scotland and his mom. I asked him if Siri could understand the Scottish accent yet and he said no. He told me that it is very funny to listen to Scottish speakers try to imitate an American accent so Siri could understand them.

We plan to go to the hot buffet for lunch, though right now neither of us are very hungry. If I get an internet connection I will try to put some photos on Facebook.

I was able to put one set of photos on Facebook and of course I will add photos to the blog when I get home.

The hot buffet was pretty good, I had chicken cooked fajita style and some carrots and potatoes. We both had ice cream bars from the vending machine for lunch. We went back to the room after lunch because the ship was rocking very hard, I felt light headed from the movement and Carolyn was not thrilled with it either. Once in the room, we both took nice, long naps. The movement is not so bad when you are laying down, it is more like rocking.

We went to the excursion area to book a trip to Civitavecchia for Carolyn, but there were none. The only trip was to a castle and lake far outside the city and it was not going to be in English and only had 16 sign ups, so probably it will be canceled. We sat in the bar and waited to meet with Emmett for the ticket exchange. As we took care of that it turned out that Emmett and Andrea were planning to visit Civitavecchia on their own and were pleased to have Carolyn join them. I, of course, will be seeing Rome that day.

We went into dinner and I only had a main course, beef tenderloin and my ice cream and coffee. I have been eating more than I like today, I think cause there has not been much to do. We have all been gathering information and it appears the foolish duo tired to board the ship with a kilo of cocaine (or some drug). One persons phone, in their pocket, went off in the xray and the resulting pat down found the drugs. A visit to their room and more drugs were found hidden throughout. They and their luggage were handed over to the Morroccan authorities. I imagine they will be learning a very hard lesson.

Apparently canceling a port stop does not bother the majority of the European passengers, unlike Americans, who I feel would be really angry. I plan to contact our travel agent to see if we can get some sort of compensation, 4 sea days are too many.

After dinner, Carolyn and I had a brief visit with Bobbi and Irene and then went to our room. The dress for tomorrow is black and white and I have convinced Carolyn to wear her pretty black and white pants. While she got ready to relax I cleaned up some stuff and headed out, determined to see Keyane sing in the Voice competition tonight. It is not until 11:30! Most of our table mates will not be up that late. I just saw the evening show and it was fun. Lots of singing and dancing and many songs I knew. There was an Elvis medley, a fun 9-5 song and dance and a sexy dance where the men stripped down to their briefs. When I arrived at the theatre, it was dark and the show had started. They were singing Big Spender and when I finally found a seat there was a jacket on it. The man who owned the jacket gave up the seat in a most ungracious manner. A man and woman sitting behind us were talking very loudly to hear each other over the music throughout the show. The man and his wife next to me turned to them repeatedly and told them to be quiet (both couples spoke Italian) but it was no use. That really surprised me.

The show is over now and I plan to just hang around the lounge and wait for The Voice show to start.

Tomorrow – Lisbon. We leave at 9am for a 4 hour tour, hopefully it will be a good one.

March 29 On the ship and March 30 Barcelona

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.

 

 

 

 

My Mediterranean Cruise

My Mediterranean Cruise

Today is March 23 and I leave for my cruise on March 25. It is constantly on my mind.

I am traveling with my book and WW friend, Carolyn. We are pretty sure we will be good traveling companions and we are both excited about the trip.

We are registered with the state dept. and plan to stay out of any areas they may suggest. We will be alert and careful and enjoy ourselves.

I have narrowed my selection of dresses down from 25 to the 8 I am taking. The weather will be cold, (hooray) so I will bring my thicker tights, a small sweater, a big sweater, my trench coat and cami’s for layers. I’m just bringing two pair of walking shoes, no need to have dressy stuff. And, I have bought and am bringing a little, pink cane. Since I am working on my balance and there will be cobblestones, the cane will be some extra security.

The travel book is pretty much complete, though I still need to add to the weather chart. We have booked 3 excursions, Barcelona, Tangier, and Casablanca. More may be booked, but that will wait until we are on the ship.

There will be 3 sea days, for reading and relaxing and all other days will include shore activities.

This is our itinerary:

March 25    F            Leave from LAX

March 26  S              Arrive Genoa airport 10:25pm / taxi 45 min then check into Mare hotel in                                                                                                         Savona, Italy.

March 27 Sun            Wake up in Hotel Mare, Savona Italy

March 28 M        Explore Savona

March 29 T           Board Costa Magica Cruise Ship

March 30 W           Barcelona (5h)

March 31 Th            At sea – relaxing, reading, smiling

April 1 F               Tangiers (10h)

April 2 Sat               Casablanca (15h)

April 3 Sun                 Cadice (6h)

April 4 M               Lisbon (9h)

April 5 Tues           At sea – relaxing, reading, smiling

April 6 W               Alicante (6h)

April 7 Th                At sea – relaxing, reading, smiling

April 8 F              Civitavecchia (10H)

April 9 Sat              Disembarkation in Savona / car to Genoa,  fly to CDG, LAX and home

My plan is to travel blog each evening and then post. I have no idea how much internet access I will have, when I will have it and how strong it will be. I will also post pictures. More from the trip…….

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday off the ms Amsterdam and in Seattle July 5

We woke up about 7 to the sound of being at dock. Our luggage was gone, as expected. We both cleaned up and got dressed. At the Lido buffet we got juice, coffee and dry cereal. We brought it back to our room. We felt relaxed, and finally left the room about 8:30 and sat in the library until they called us. We were Yellow 1. The line to get off the ship was very long and only got longer while we waited. Once off the ship it was surprising simple. The luggage was neatly gathered by color and we found our easily. They had spread out the disembarkation very well and there were not big crowds. Once through customs we discussed our next move. There was a place we could leave the suitcases, but the temperature was headed for 95 and we were only on foot. We decided to use Uber and had a pleasant, chatty ride to the Holiday Inn. Breakfast was still going on when we arrived. We had to wait a couple of hours for our room, but the lobby was big and comfortable and we were able to use wi fi.

I was able to get our boarding passes, both “A”s and finally we got a room. Terry is very happy to have a room with wi fi and normal TV. We walked across the street to a festival near Angle Lake. It was a tiny fair with one food booth. And it was hot and there was trash everywhere. So, back to the hotel, and we have ordered a pizza to be delivered from a local pizza place called Pizza Time. Hopefully it will be good, but even mall pizza is better than what they had on the ship.

Our plane leaves tomorrow at 12:25 and we are looking forward to seeing friends, Otis and home.

Are there any cruises in the future? Yes for me, but no for Terry. I will travel with an enthusiastic friend, and Terry will be happy in the garage with his scooters. And, you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Universal Studios and Island of Adventure, Orlando

Universal Studios and Island of Adventure

My 61st birthday was celebrated at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This world is located in Orlando Florida at the Universal Studios and Island of Adventure Amusement parks. Once all wizarding was completed, we took the time to stroll through the rest of the parks.

Universal Studios is very large and looks beautiful. It kind of reminds me of Disneyland Main Street, cute, decorated and things to look at in every direction. If you are a fan of California Universal than you will love this place and if you think California Universal is lacking, you will love this place. Instead of a simple ride, it has lands. The Island of Adventure has a Comic land and Dr. Seuss and Jurassic Park and of course Hogshead and Hogwarts. They sell a ticket add on which turns your ticket into a fast pass and the yearly premium pass is only $200 and has valet parking, hour early in and fast pass. Great deal.

Of course my favorite place was Harry Potter World but the comic area was pretty cool. We did not go on rides except the wizard rides. We did see a couple of shows, but nothing very exciting.

There are so many restaurants in the two lands it is amazing and there is also City Walk with all of it’s restaurants. We ate at the Monster Cafe and had a decent chicken plate and when we met Terry’s scooter friend we ate at Margaritaville. Both places had decent food and were of course over priced.

We both agreed that if we lived nearby we would have passes, there really is a lot to do. I will always be a Disneyland fan first and foremost, but a fun and AFFORDABLE place is a good alternative.

We did not stay at a park hotel, but instead spent less at a nearby Holiday Inn Express. It was within walking distance and the hotel also offered a limited shuttle. We took our car each of the 2 days, it was $17 to park. We could have walked there but it would have been hard to walk back to the hotel with our tired feet.

Our hotel was on International Blvd. and there were dozens of familiar and new restaurants. That was a bonus because we had dinner after we left the park.

Probably my main criticism would be about the no items on some rides rule. The larger and faster rides did not allow any purses, bags, or any items at all, so you had to put the stuff you carried into a locker that was right nearby. It was free for 50 minutes or you could pay for longer. The locker area, even on the not crowded days we were there, was packed with people, many of whom were confused and it took too long to get in, stow your stuff and then retrieve it after the ride. It made us not even want to go on the ride it was so annoying. I can’t even imagine what would happen when the park is crowded. Another issue for me was that the bathrooms were not very clean. I went into one just as an attendant came out and the trash cans were full and many necessities were out, I am not sure what she had done in there. On the other hand, the restaurants and walkways were very clean.

All in all we enjoyed Universal as a side note to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.DSC00981 DSC00982 DSC00983 DSC00984 DSC00985 DSC00986 DSC00987 DSC00988 DSC00989 DSC00990 DSC00991 DSC00992 DSC00993 DSC00994 DSC00996 DSC00997 DSC00998 DSC00999 DSC01000 DSC01001 DSC01002 DSC01003 DSC01004 DSC01005 DSC01006 DSC01007 DSC01008