Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 28 Plymouth

Some of this day was very much like the 'Gilligan Island' 3 hour tour. Dick went into Plymouth before I did, and when I attempted to board a tender about two hours later, there was a lot of going round in circles out in the bay. Every day a new experience! but isn't that what travel is all about.

I am so sorry not to be writing more but even writing off line and posting has taken a great deal of time that is usually spent out and about. I hope the pictures give you a good taste of this trip and I will say that they have given me a lot of Photoshop (Elements 7) practice which has been great fun.

May 27 Waterford Ireland

Sunday, May 24, 2009


My anniversary card to my dear husband. Celebrating a day early!

May 20 St. John’s Newfoundland

We anticipated some of our worst weather in St. John’s, so we planned to leave the ship with layers of clothing, topped by the ubiquitous slickers. It was overcast but windless when I texted dh to find out where he was in town. He had already started climbing up the hill to the Basilica so I trudged up those steps getting warmer by the step! So much for that cold weather! When I caught up with him, breathless and warm, we climbed the remaining bit to find out that there was a mass going on in the basilica so we headed around to the far side hoping to see a glimpse of land beyond the crest of that hill. Nothing visible but more houses but we did notice the painted mailboxes on some of them. We asked a young woman where the nearest café was. She recommended The Hungry Heart which, in addition to being downhill, gave its profits to the homeless. We were glad to sit again and have coffee, a good pot of tea and an apple scone. A very good stop.

Back to the Cathedral we went where we learned that Basilica is an honorary title bestowed by the Pope. I don’t know what percentage of the population is Roman Catholic but the church looks very well supported. Just beyond the church, I had noted a very large sign for The Rooms. (I hadn’t taken time to talk to the Tourist Information people on the dock as I was dashing to catch up with dh.) When we walked over past the church we saw that The Rooms were the archives and museum. The gift shop wasn’t open yet as they are still on Winter Hours (!) but I left dh on a comfortable bench while I went off to Scobeys, a huge supermarket to look for some tea. With a packet of local decaf tea in hand, I came back to The Rooms and looked around the really lovely gift shop but didn’t buy. We were considering eating at the top floor restaurant/café but after taking some wonderful pictures from the observation deck in Full Sun, we decided to go back to Hungry Heart.

We had seen the staff setting up for a large group in the morning, and when we got back the tables were full. With all the chatter, I whispered to dh “I hope they’re leaving soon.”
Rather than leaving, the group was about to hear a talk by the folklorist of Newfoundland which turned out to be absolutely fascinating. We had a marvelous lunch of quiche for me and soup and sandwich for dh AND a wonderful chance to hear all about the work to preserve heritage crafts and stories in NFL. It was pure serendipity.

With our slickers in our bag, we headed back down towards the harbor and the main shopping areas. We walked from shop to shop and while the woolens were wonderful and hand made, we really had no need for that kind of good for our normally mild winters. DH and I then parted ways as he went back to the ship for a nap and I forged on to see the rest of Water Street. By mid afternoon, the clouds had come in and the temperature was dropping. A shop keeper said the previous Victoria Day weekend had been the nicest in 30 years. I ended up contributing a bit to the NFL economy with a fleece pullover and a wool hat. (The hat I had planned to buy turned out to have raw fleece inside and as the clerk said, was the warmest hat they had. Hmmm, not what I needed I’m afraid.)

Finally I said goodbye to NFL, and after dinner on board we time to see Slumdog Millionaire, and a welcome climb into bed. A sunny day in NFL was a real treat so much so that dh is willing to come back, By Car!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Monday May 18, 2009 Halifax Photo

Monday May 18, 2009

Today was our first port day – Halifax Nova Scotia. While the day was overcast, with rain on and off all day, it was still mild and the wind wasn’t fierce. A ‘soft day’ as those who have ever been to Ireland well know. The other phrase used was ‘liquid sunshine’!

After a lie in for me with a cabin bit of breakfast and a much earlier start to the day for dh who prepared himself with a full breakfast, we headed down the gangplank and decided on the Gray line On and Off bus. It didn’t seem like a good idea to try to hike up to The Citadel with dh’s feet not up to par. There are three routes the buses take and they truly take in all the sites to see in downtown Halifax. There was only one fly in the ointment. It was Victoria Day so many things were closed and the downtown seemed almost deserted for a Monday morning.

We rode thru town and got off the bus at the entrance to The Citadel. We paid to go into the site and while touring it, the rain really came down at times, but that’s why we pack good slickers. We cut the tour a bit short and walked down the hill to the main part of town. Again, it felt so strange to be one of the few people walking about near noon. I did regret that we missed the 21 gun salute given to Queen Victoria (!) but figured we’d hear some of it down below in town. Walking towards Spring Garden Street, we wanted to get back to a bookstore we’d spotted on the bust trip up to the Citadel. But low and behold, I spied with my little eye another book store, so we veered off onto Doyle Street. Alas the shop was closed but the little Italian coffee shop was open. Instead of coffee, we ended up sharing a bowl of seafood chowder and a cheese scone. Hot, tasty and with small fish quenelles in it, it was just the thing to take the edge off of our hunger and the chill of the rain.

We then went back on the main drag of Spring Garden and did a lot of window shopping and a stroll through Jenners which had a lot of handcrafted items from Nova Scotia. There is a lot of beautiful silver and pewter jewelry here but as I wear gold, I saved my money. Dick is always happy to support a local independent bookstore but I had to pass since I am seriously working at reducing the stockpile of books I have at home.

We continued up Spring Garden to the actual city gardens which were gorgeous but then the rains came down again. Fortunately there is a refreshment building where we shared a hot and luscious hot chocolate. I never think about hot chocolate but dh has suggested it at times and it’s really a nice change from tea. Then back on our On-Off bus to the ship and lunch aboard. DH decided it was time for a nap but I headed back into town on another of the bus’s routes which took me back to the Old Burying Grounds and a walk thru the once again rain to a tea merchant. I had an ok cuppa Lapsong Souchong but got dear gd a packet of Lady Hannah tea. I think it will be a thrill to get tea with her own name on it.

Now it was time to start heading back to the ship lest it sail without me but I did dash into a huge SuperStore to check on powdered laundry detergent. What caught my eye as I entered were whole cooked lobsters at under $6. Canadian. Oh I was tempted but we have access to so much food I couldn’t justify it. I wanted to. DH met me but there really wasn’t time for more walking so Water Street would wait for another trip.

Some computer time, and then I was off to my massage, facial and pedicure. Oh how nice that was…a real treat and of course it left me absolutely ready for bed with one more time change.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sunday May 17, 2009 At Sea

@ 6am a knock on the cabin door slightly woke me as my tea and fruit platter were delivered to the cabin. Fortunately dh was already awake as I knew he’d be and back to a sound sound sleep I went as he left me to do more of an exploration venture round the ship. No light, no one moving about and no cat crying…ah, I could sleep in! By 8am, I was up, he was back and we went on up to the Lido again for some more tea and coffee and my usual if it’s available gravlax. With 11 decks and a few twists of floors that could only be accessed in one way, we had a lot of exploring to do. The sea was not terribly smooth and both of us walked like drunken sailors. Fortunately neither word applies to us.

Mid morning we met up with the Cruise Critic group and were grateful that Fran – our serendipitous meeting at the train station – had told us where and when the group was meeting. Amazingly enough there was another couple named Maureen and Richard, and they were on the same deck. Talking to the assorted other members about 40 people in all, we found many interests shared and many had many enjoyable conversations. Because the online group has been in existence since last year, a lot of work has been done on booking tours and setting up plans at prices much more reasonable than HAL’s prices. That was a real blessing.

Suddenly – it seemed – it was lunchtime and back to the Lido we went. We each had our laptops and uploaded our photos and enjoyed talking to the couple at the next table who are on baby call…waiting to hear about a new grandchild in San Diego. While dh went back to the cabin for a nap, I went to a talk about Belfast. We had a quick dash to High Tea with tea, coffee and pastries and tablemates from Tennessee. I think I will have to pass on the High Tea if I want to have any hopes of continuing to wear the clothes I brought with me. Morning walks become harder and harder to get up for as we continue to lose an hour hear and there each night sailing east. I had forgotten about that.

A bit more exploring, some computer time off line and then we had a 12 step meeting. It’s always nice to make that connection with Friends of Bill at sea. Amazingly, it was time for dinner again! Neither of us was terribly hungry but we made a valiant effort and of course managed to eat!

After dinner, there was some computer time and then a movie. We saw Nixon/Frost which both of us really enjoyed and I highly recommend it to people of all political persuasions. I found it very poignant and even if you feel you know that history you may get some insights into the personalities of both men.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 16 NYC

A morning departure from BWI train station to Newark led to a serendipitous meeting with a fellow cruise member. She spotted our luggage and came over to talk to us, rightly guessing that we were on our way to the Holland America cruise. We learned about the Cruise Critic on line group, and we said we would find each other on the ship. The train left, and after a Whole Foods pre-purchased lunch aboard the train, we hopped aboard the airport train and met out HAL connection at the airport. We shared a van with two other couples – one from Ottawa Canada and the other from Ocala Florida. As the drive into Manhattan was thru heavy traffic we had time to do a lot of chatting with them. Hank, the FL man, turned out to be a USNA grad so there were some memories traded of Annapolis.

Upon arrival at the ship, we turned over our luggage and then went thru the security and health checks. Finally, we boarded the ship, and went to our cabin. My suitcase was already in there and dh’s arrived while we went out exploring the internet site. Then came the requisite lifeboat drill which always involves a lot of ‘stooging around’ but then we were done. Time to use the net a bit while we still had free access thru the WAN on dh’s Mac, then farewell to NYC, the Statue of Liberty and our first dinner.

We decided to stick to the casual Lido buffet which had the same menu as the main dining room for the first night especially as I was really feeling the movement of the ship. I was glad to have the Dramamine from a prior cruise and after a walk about outside – just one lap to be sure dh’s feet didn’t get blistered up again – we were ready for an early night. We did go back to the Lido for an ice cream cone tho – chocolate and cinnamon scoops for me and vanilla and orange sherbet for dh.

A Dramamine for me and about 5 pages of reading and I was out like a light while being rocked to sleep by the ship.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Counting Down Once Again

This week is the week to plan the suitcase. What does one take for 28 days with 18 different cities, and who knows how many changes of weather? That should be a clue that this trip involves a BIG ship but not the ship below.

Ok, we have lifeboats

At least I am going with a laptop of my own this time (well at least a hand-me-down from dh) and a chance to do some of my own computer work, and not have to share on line time with dh. DH's computer time makes $$ so it was always hard to compete with that!

Ok, I have to get back to some serious planning of the packing! See me back here on Saturday.