Tag Archives: Spain

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.

March 31 – A Day At Sea

We woke up at 9 but remembered that the clocks were going to be set back an hour so we still had time to be lazy while we waited for breakfast. When it arrived, we enjoyed our cold cereal and coffee but it was only ok.

There was no internet but it was a nice, relaxing day to rest up from our Barcelona tour.

After breakfast we showered and dressed and went in search of the internet café to try and send this blog. Again we were flummoxed by the elevators but finally found it. Oh joy when I was actually able to connect and send the past two days. There was no internet in the evening.

Next I went to discuss our tours at the tour desk. I was concerned that there was going to be too much walking for Carolyn. All other tours were sold out and the girl I talked to was not much help. I plan to try again later.

We stopped by the hospitality desk to get some change and check on our room account, which we realized later was a waste of time. With that accomplished we went to Costa Smeralda Restaurant (that’s how they spell it) to try a sit down lunch. The menu was very sparse and though we were seated with nice people, they only spoke French. Carolyn had pasta and a salad. I decided to take the opportunity to try rabbit. I though it tasted good and since the French diners ordered it and enjoyed it I guess it was good. The rabbit was served with two pieces, leg I think, on the bone. I wanted to nibble off the last bits but just could not pick up the bone with my hands in front of the French diners at our table. We both had pineapple sherbet for dessert and are now back in the room. Carolyn has dozed off, which is good because she was up a lot last night not feeling well. I slept a while too, gosh I love a nap!

Once we were up and feeling good we went up to the buffet in search of a little snack. I found some cookies and coffee and we were sitting by window out by the pool. There was an announcement over the loud speaker that we had to go about an hour out of our way because a passenger was very ill nad need to be taken off the ship. The announcement was made much more carefully than usual, instead of a rush of many languages, a different person who was extra good at the language made the announcement in each language.

The ocean was fairly rough and the pool water slopped out and began rushing along the floor. Everyone who saw it tried to warn others but the language gap became pretty apparent. It was pretty funny. We took a walk on a deck Carolyn called the promenade, but I think on this ship it is where the crew takes their breaks. We enjoyed watching the rough sea since we both felt ok. We went back to the room to for Carolyn to change for dinner, and it was a good thing because she had been in jeans but when we went to to dinner we discovered it was dress up night. Linda and Andrea were resplendent, the rest of us were acceptable. I teased Emmet for not singing at Karoke, turns out he went on last, after I had gone to the room. I had roast duck leg for dinner, it was very good. I also had a cheese plate and my ice cream for dessert.

After dinner Carolyn and I went to the show. When the girl brought me coffee she said my Costa account was closed but I could fix it and she gave me the coffee anyhow. The show was all Italian singing, which would have been fine, but most of the songs sounded like a funeral so I did not stay, Carolyn left with me.

We went to the desk to check on our accounts. When we paid for our tours and tried to give them each of our Costa cards we had been told at the tour desk all of our stuff was together and that at the end there would be one bill so we did not both need to hand in our cards. However, turns out that is not true. When I told the girl at the desk she said I should have come to them to find out what is really true. I disagreed and told her she should tell the tour people to get it right. I feel anyone on the ship who answers a question should know what they are talking about. We have been given incorrect information on several occasions. It may be a language problem, but I always ask in simple terms, I am used to speaking to people with limited English. For example, the maître de came to our table during dinner and I told him I thought it would be nice if we could have coffee after dinner without a charge. He said the charge was only for fancy coffee and American coffee was free. One would think that everyone who works on the ship could know these things, or else they should say “I am not sure, please check at the main desk.” Anyhow, I had her open my account with my credit card and Carolyn still had some money left on her Costa card, so she did not bother at this time. Having about 500E in ship credit is lovely, and we have very little to buy now, since we have booked and paid for our excursions, but it is nice to know my Costa card will work.

Carolyn has gone to the room, maybe to bed. I am sitting in the lobby listening to the singer and typing away. I plan to go to the Karoke show and watch my new friends. But that did not happen because our excursion was set for 8:45 and I needed to get to bed. We asked for a wake up call and we were both out.

Tangier Tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

Our Trip Begins

March 25: On our way

Terry drove us to the airport. We picked up Carolyn at 6pm. We had a brief visit with Carl and then were on our way. We were able to car pool on the way over and then Terry luckily had no traffic on the way home. Terry wanted to park and help us with our luggage, but that proved impossible. So we just stopped in the Bradley lot and got a luggage cart and said our goodbyes.

We looked into a seat change at the airport but nothing better was available. We had already paid $32 to switch to a row with only 2 seats, so that’s what we kept.

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At Bradley Intl.

In the terminal we quickly went through security, though Carolyn had her luggage searched. Back in our shoes we had coffee and I had a cookie while we chatted and waited. There was a wonderful art installation in sight and it was so fun to watch. It was a series of posts with screens on them and each country that used the airport had a few minutes of decoration on the screens. My favorite was the one from Santiago, it was the neck and a bit of the body of a guitar and the strings vibrated each time a note played.

At about 9:15 we went to our gate, visited the ladies room a few times and watched a huge growing line of passengers standing, but for no apparent reason. Finally I checked at the desk, and we did need to line up, but in a much less crowded section. In less than 5 minutes we boarded.

We sat in seats 44K and when I got there a lady was there. I told her it was my seat, she said she was using it to find stuff for her little girl, and nicely asked if I would wait. I did. When she finally moved. We stowed our luggage and I sat by the window. Carolyn got the aisle seat and had an entire seats worth of room next to her. Having only 2 seats is great.

We both took something to help us sleep and then played around with the various movies and other things available on our seat screens when, to our amazement, they served us dinner at midnight local time. Carolyn had chicken with rice, she got the last one. I got pasta in lobster sauce which I did not eat. There was also a grain salad of some sort that was good. The bread was good and the applesauce was tolerable. I ignored the brownie, bleh.

After they cleared all the dishes, they dimmed the lights and we went to sleep, sort of. Carolyn slept fairly well, I am not sure if I slept or not. I felt like I was awake the entire time, but it’s hard to tell.

We both got up at about 5:30am California time. We went to freshen up a bit and I got suddenly so cold I was shaking. The steward (our section has all men) gave me some coffee and worriedly checked the temp, but I told him I was ok, just reacting to being tired.

Back at our seats we sipped coffee and tried to play solitare on the screen, but it required more button pushing that either of us could stand, so we gave up. Carolyn played a game on her ipad for a while and I am typing.

We had breakfast on the plane, some sort of egg sandwich, but there were mushrooms in the same container, I did not eat them. The orange juice was yummy and the coffee was decent.

Once on the ground we got off the plane fairly quickly. The lady in the row in front of us was searching for a lost ring, so she was still there when we left.

Our luggage is going to Genoa without us, but even so, security made me throw my water away, even though I had to have been through security to get to where the next one was. Oh well.

We took a shuttle a long way to terminal 2-G and are not waiting for our 90 min. flight to Genova on HOP Regional. Once there a driver will pick us up (we hope) and take us to the hotel.

We are tired, but happy and excited.

Carolyn says she is very tired but it is well worth it.