Tag Archives: ice cream

April 6 – Alicante, Spain

Yesterday was a sea day and there is not much to report. I did go to play one of the quiz games and Mr. Moustache and his friend were there, I sat with them. We only got 2 answers right and Mr. Moustache looked one up on his phone. I also played bingo, I did not win but it was fun. Carolyn was tired and stayed in the room dozing and reading.

Over all it was also a very frustrating (and then happy) day for me. On the night of the 4th, before dinner, I found a note canceling my Rome excursion, not enough English speakers. I was upset, mostly because Costa does not in any way let you know this is a possibility before you book. Tours get cancelled, I get that, but not for this reason. I spoke of my distress at dinner and after dinner we went to the show. The show was a mish mash of songs with nice costumes and even had a little mini Harry Potter skit. These shows offer a wide variety but sexily clad men and women seem to be a constant.

On the 5th, a sea day, I went to the service desk to complain. I was very upset. I told the girl I wanted her to know how I felt. I told her that I felt as if Costa does not want English speaking passengers. Nicky overheard and came rushing around the desk to lead me to a couch and sympathize with me. I know she understood my concerns, but I don’t think there is actually a way to explain to this cruise line how disregarded we feel. She made a few suggestions and comforted me, and Carolyn, who joined us, as much as she could. Carolyn said she would go into Rome with me, and my Facebook family sent me a slew of suggestions, but I was really unhappy about the entire situation. And then, my delightful table group changed everything! At dinner, Larry suggested we all get together and take a bus to Rome and hang out and see what we please. I was so delighted, especially since he came up with this idea partly to make sure I saw Rome. We agreed to all take the ship arranged bus and ate our dinner happily discussing it. Carolyn and I stayed for the show again and then went to our room, happier than we had been in the morning.

I want to be sure to be clear about this cruise line. The food is fairly good, though changes very little. And it is certainly abundant. Carolyn dislikes it more than I do, but we both love the ice cream. The crew are friendly and funny and helpful. The rooms and bathrooms are very well appointed. The public rooms are beautiful. The shows are fun and if you like to dance there are opportunities to learn and to dance constantly. The children have a lot to do and are very well looked after by the crew. There are several pools and millions of places to lie in the sun. The cities on the itinerary are fun and interesting and the excursions are very low priced. I feel as if I have made a really friend in Renata, a woman who works in one of the shops.

So, all that said, neither of us would use Costa again. We don’t like the disregarded feeling we get as English speakers. We don’t care for the multi language tours. We do not mind the fact that there are many languages on the ship, we have met many nice people who say hi in their native tongues and everyone participates in a bit of laughing sign language. But English is in such a minority that we feel excluded and as if we are not important or wanted. Perhaps this sounds complainy, but this is how we feel, we are enjoying everything as much as we can, we love our dinner friends, we adore our balcony and the crew is wonderful. We have seen many terrific cities and that is what we will mostly remember.

 

And now, today in Alicante:

Alicante was wonderful. We got into port about 1pm and our tour was scheduled for 1:30. We had slept very late and only got up and ready for lunch. I found and had sushi!!! They had smoked salmon sushi and gosh it was yummy. After lunch we went to our tour meeting spot. We were happy to know our crew member favorite Nicky, was to be on our bus. Irene and Bobbi were also on the tour with us. It was a German and English tour.

Alicante is a beautiful coast city, modern in many ways and yet still very different from home with beautiful architecture and tiled walkways. The promenade has a tile design to look like waves and it creates and optical illusion of higher and lower sections, even though it is flat. If you stare at the tiles it is very difficult to walk. Our bus tour drove around the city and then stopped near the city hall building. We walked around and ended up on the promenade. We were to have a taste of horchata and then be on our own for an entire 90 minutes. We skipped the horchata and headed straight for the shops. They were tented stalls all along this lovely walkway and the coast was just across the street. There were ice cream shops and restaurants also. We saw one ice cream shop that had a sigh that said it was the THIRD BEST ice cream in Spain. How hilarious is that?

We bought a few items and then had ice cream at an ordinary stand, I had coffee and chocolate gelato and it was delicious. We sat in the mild sunshine and really enjoyed our time. On our way back to the meeting place, we saw a very nice looking, shirtless young man painting a balcony railing. When I took his picture he waved and smiled. Continuing on, we stopped in a very American little ship and Carolyn bought a really nice scarf. Scarf prices here are so much more reasonable than at home.

Our bus group was on time, we are a smaller group than other tours, about ½ the bus is full. The bus drove up, up a hill to a place the guide called a fortress, and it is also called the St. Barbara Castle. The narrow road seemed to be about to scrape the sides of the bus, but did not. It was a little nerve racking. Once on the top, we began to walk along the fortress cobblestones. The age of this place is fascinating, I wish we had really old stuff in our country. The walls and ground show that it was all hand built. There were views in every direction of the entire city of Alicante as well as the mountains in the background. We came to a pretty area with benches and trees and Carolyn and others choose to stay there while the rest of us continued to climb up the fortress. In this area, there was a gull sitting on a nest at the foot of a tree. The spouse gull was nearby and when we got too close she would call out to him to protect her. We stayed a respectful distance and got to watch the two of them changes places so she could rest a bit and grab a bit to eat.

Further up the fortress were several statues along the way that were guarding the castle. They looked like archers and swordsmen and were fun to take pictures of. We also went in one room that had a beautiful mosaic wall made from shards of pottery found in the excavation of the area. I could not stop taking pictures of the scenery, the views were amazing and got more so as we climbed higher. On the top were cannons and by standing just so I was able to get a photo that looks like the cannon is aimed at our ship. The guide pointed out the bullring, another photo op.

Eventually we headed back down. I picked up Carolyn and we were all on the bus by 6. Going down the hill was scary, and the bus was crawling past the huge fortress gates.

We were soon back at the port and the busses were able to get very close to the ship, that had not been the case on our other stops. We passed a few gift shops and I was able to finally get some Alicante bookmarks. This is a city I would love to visit again, it is very beautiful, easy going with a lot to see.

By the time we got through security we went straight to dinner. Soon we were all eating and laughing and sharing our stories. Larry, when he ordered dessert, asked for the chocolate obsession WITH a scoop of ice cream, we all thought that was brilliant and as we gobbled it up, well, it was brilliant.

At dinner Courtney and Keyane told us they could not take the same bus because they had a Segway tour booked and the ship bus would not get to Rome on time. They got Andrea’s cell phone number so we can meet up when they are done. We picked Andrea because she and Emmett are currently living in Germany and we know her phone will work.

After dinner, Carolyn and I decided to skip the show, she is really tired and I have things to remember and write.

Tomorrow is a sea day and we will spend part of it getting most of our packing done. My plan is to put my little carpet in my carry on since it is folded small but still somewhat heavy. We also have a disembarkation meeting at 9:30 to explain all the procedures.

I was able to post Barcelona on Facebook and will add photos to the blog at home.

April 4 – Lisbon, Portugal

More about last night. I was sitting on deck 5 waiting for the show, I had finished typing and was simply sitting when a woman approached me. She spoke in French and when I told her I did not understand she switched to limited English. She asked me if I was by myself and I said yes and she invited me to join her and her friends. I went with her to her table around the corner, there were two men. On was young, maybe late 20’s and the other was older. The older one I sort of knew. He and his friend and I had been standing in line together and though we did not speak the same language we had fun pantomiming the long wait to each other. Then the shorter man, who had a moustache, reached and yanked a hair out of the taller mans arm and ran a ways off, laughing. Later I saw them playing a ship quiz game and I called out to their little group when I though I knew an answer, I was typing rather than playing. Turns out, the young man is the woman’s daughters boyfriend, and the man with the moustache is her and her husbands best friend and travels with them. The husband and daughter were asleep. Apparently Mr. Moustache had pointed me out to her and said there is the lady with the pretty smile. She told him to come talk to me and when he would not, she came and got me. I was flattered silly. I sat with them for a while and then left to see Keyane sing. Even as I type this, I smile.

As to Keyane, it was very exciting. The show is set up almost exactly like The Voice, the judges even have turning chairs. We had all discussed strategy with Keyane, she wanted to avoid being on a team with the Spanish singer, the Italian singer and the English singer. The others could not really sing very well. When the Italian singer came out, she did a pretty good job, faltering a bit at the beginning. The Spanish singer did My Way (again) and was very good (again). The English singer, Greg, was fine, doing Elton John. When Keyane came out, she was wearing leggings with holes across horizontally, and a white blouse. She sang Rolling in the Deep and she rocked it! Only 2 judges turned, so since she really wanted to avoid the Italian lady she had to go on Greg’s team. The Spanish singer was not a good strategy player and went on the Italian lady’s team, even though all 3 judges turned for him. When all had sung the judges stood with their teams and announced their choice. The Italian lady was picked (the ship is 75% Italian) and the Spanish man was visibly crushed. A man in a ball cap who couldn’t really sing very well was next and then the judge picked Keyane over Greg. We were so excited. Next they showed a brief clip of the 3 top singers and all of us who had picked up a voting device made our selection. There was a long, suspenseful few minutes while the host held the envelope and tortured us. And then it was announced; Keyane Won!!!!!!! We screamed and laughed and she was so delighted. Her trophy actually has some weight to it, it is a hand holding a microphone. WOW! What a night.

 

And now, today in Lisbon. We woke up at 7 and went to breakfast at the International Café. Carolyn had eggs benedict and I had a cheese omelets. It was nice to have real breakfast food for a change and we could order as opposed to getting it ourselves.

At 9am we were given our bus assignment and made our way off the ship. Larry and Linda and Emmett and Andrea were on the bus with us. This tour was in English and Spanish. The tour around Lisbon was really nice. The architecture is lovely and they have many large, imposing statues. Unfortunately it was raining, often very hard, and by the harbor the wind was blowing HARD HARD! The ship had given us all ponchos but they were so light weight, after watching everyone struggle with them, we left ours in our purses. We stopped now and then for pictures and I took a few from the bus window, but the rain made it difficult. We saw the President’s Residence which is pink. We went into a museum that had been the King’s Palace and walked through. The guide talked a lot about each room, and in two languages, so this part of the tour was much too long. Many of us wanted to walk through faster, but the guide was determined to keep us together. At the museum bookstore I got a children’s Portuguese coloring book and a flash drive that looks like books! Our last stop was by a pastry shop. There was a tiny store beside it, here I bought my bookmarks and a small Lisbon book with plenty of pictures. I wanted this because of the rain messing up most of my camera shots. In the pastry shop Carolyn got us each a coffee and a big chocolate chip cookie. So delicious! We then stopped at a pretty nice restroom and went back to the bus. As we walked to the ship from the bus we passed two tiny shops. In the first on I found these funny, round cloth things that are for little breads and a kitchen towel. This shop also had many cork products. I could not resist and bought the cutest purse, made of cork! Carolyn bought some items also.

Back on the ship we dropped off our stuff in the cabin and went up to the 9th level to get something to eat. The hot buffet had a bit of steak, potatoes, salad and spaghetti. Pasta every night at dinner is enough for me! As we looked for a table, Irene and Bobbi called us over and we all enjoyed lunch together. Those two are so funny, friendly to each other and bickering at each other in an odd but almost endearing manner. Carolyn and I each had ice cream bar for dessert and now we sit happy and comfortable in our cabin.

Tomorrow is a sea day, so I may not have much to post.