The first time I came through Cartegena I visited the Old Town, various museums and really enjoyed myself. The following couple of times I have pretty much stayed in the port area. Smart marketing here, nice shops in the port area and multiple species of birds.
The two ships in port today are us and the NCL Pearl which followed us through the canal. Most seem to have gone off on tours.
I am ignoring the “opportunity” to buy eneralds, coffee or trinkets.
I am also ignoring the feral kittens and the guy with the parrots and his hand out. Two more sea days from here then Miami on the 20th.
For those who don’t remember, the Panama Canal runs a SW to NE course through the isthmus.
According to the info we were given the pilot was going to be boarding ~0500 and we would be to the first lock about 0700. Accordingly several of us got up early and staked out our normal places in the observation lounge.
Naturally there were those not happy when they arrived as we approached the first lock to find both the lounge full and the forward railings crowded.
I spilt my time between wandering out to enjoy the travel through the locks and my cross stitch.
I will have photos when I am somewhere that I have real internet.
When I booked this cruise I could pick two perks off the list. The Internet was obvious. No interest in the drinks or shore excursions which left the 4 Meals in a Specialty Restaurant.
Tonight, after a relaxing day I went to Le Bistro. Great food, wonderful service. Will go back (unlike one of the others).
Having been here before (Costa Rica) I was looking forward to a relaxed wander through town. And then we turned out to be ship #3 in port. There are two berths in town. The commercial port is not either next door or walkable. In fact the only thing you can do after you shuttle from the ship to the port entrance is get on another bus ($15/return) if you want to go to town or go back to the ship.
Not hard to figure out which I chose.
We stop here again on the return journey and I will plan on getting to town regardless. Meanwhile, there is a hot tub in my future after I finish a bit more of the cross-stitch.
There wound up being four of us hanging out this morning and stitching. There also were knitters. Aren’t there always knitters? And I am not one this time. Anyway, it was a lovely time in the observation lounge.
The rest of the day was more of the same, topped off by a dinner in one of the specialty restaurants. Food was good, service not quite there.
Ok. Not all that organized today.
We are stopped in a lovely little port with almost nothing here. An outdoor bar& cafe (no wifi) and a crafts/tourist junk center. Their wifi is expensive and overloaded. So here I am two fingering it on my phone.
If I had been organized I would have gone out to pre-Columbian ruins. But I am not; enjoying the breeze and walking a bit of distance in a straight line.
On the Pacific Coast line of Mexico, this town in Oaxaca is a whole lot smaller than those of our previous stops. It features bays, beached and more beaches. Docking at 0800, the passengers were practically trampling each other to get off the ship since they obviously need more than the cruise so far with deck chairs full of people baking in the sun to attempt to further their sunburns.
I decided that getting off before 1000 was stupid. Standing in line is not my thing (unless it is in front of the Oakland Coliseum for an A’s game or at the airport to leave town). In those cases, it still is not my thing but a bit easier to bear.
Walking through town before finding a lovely little cafe on the outskirts where I am the only customer (Bossa Nova) it is lush, full of vendors near the ship and extremely humid. But I am sitting in a cool breeze and relaxing. I plan on doing the same as the other day. Thanking the young woman (I have maybe twelve words of Spanish not counting numbers and she has no English) and tipping generously for the kindest of sitting here for a couple of hours on only a cup of coffee.
The Second Draft of the Sphere Handbook was just posted Monday so I pulled that and will work my way through this revision. I am listening to audiobooks and cross stitching, making good progress on both. Just finished the latest Peter Grant (Ben Aaronovich) novella in audio which I downloaded even though I own the eVersion just because the narrator is so fabulous.
I am skipping the beaches…
Tomorrow is another port day with a day at sea to follow, then Costa Rica then another day at sea with the Canal for about 12 hours on the 16th. There is a fellow Army retiree (actually both of the couple) who have a lovely forward facing balcony which I have been invited to visit during the canal run so hopefully will have good pictures. Otherwise – fore and aft come to mind.
Cruise lines have loyalty programs which should come as no surprise. There is always a competition for passengers and hooking people into a single line increases profits. It also increases specifically cruises on a particular line if there is choice between several if someone is close to the number of points to jump a level in privilege. People like perks, like being treated as special. I don’t really think it applies to the high end ships, except as a status symbol but for everyone else, the lure of free internet time, free drinks, free specialty meals or free laundry does have an appeal.
NCL in my opinion had a very sane and limited program up to this year. There was a cap on the levels that was achievable in a reasonable number of years (80 points/nights at sea). It got your a free bottle of ship wine, a free meal with wine for two, a bag of laundry free and some internet free. Overall not a bad deal and fairly consistent across the fleet. Then they changed it. Some how the naming convention and levels where the points cut seem to be eerily similar to Royal – right down to a [level] with the next one being [level]Plus. Go figure. The perks have definitely increased and I now received invites for a meal with an officer and a behind the scenes tour (seem familiar?).
So there I was, getting back on the Sun in Puerto Vallarta and facing a 1900 meal with an officer. Unlike Royal, there doesn’t seem to be an official Captain’s table and you get the same menu as the rest of the diners. Not a problem as the food continues consistently good. It has the advantage of not increasing costs and providing a full range of choices thus avoiding all the special requests. The downside is that you don’t get the souvenirs (like anyone who has cruised a lot needs them). Besides the Hotel Director who was hosting there was a Canadian couple from Winnipeg, an English couple from north of Manchester, an American pair now retired to Florida and me making eight total.
It was a nice evening.
Today Jill and I spent a fair amount of time first in one of the lounges then later in my cabin doing cross stitch following which we went to supper. And so went Day 6 about the “Beautiful NCL Sun.”
Seems to be the same announcements out of the Cruise Director on every ship from every line. I generally ignore them, but that is a rant for another time.
Ok, I will admit to having occasionally looked at the high end cruises and thinking they were really not worth it.
I had forgotten that Cabos San Lucas was a tender port. I don’t actually remember much from the cruise Noah and I took in April. I suspect that I didn’t get off the ship at all. Certainly I wasn’t in the mood for a tender operation. When Carmen and I came through on the Star Princess, I vaguely remember going from the ship’s tender down the dock and onto the whale watching zodiac that had been organized ahead of time.
This time I just took the tender in and set out from the port. I figured that if I walked a reasonable distance from the ship I would be able to find a cafe for coffee and wifi. If I strolled far enough, there wouldn’t be a lot of other cruise ship passengers competing for time and space. Down the long avenue and up a couple of side street and I found a lovely little place called the Giggling Bean. They had extremely strong coffee, they had wifi. They had a four footed vacuum cleaner who wandered his fat self around to check out all the new customers. He decided I was good for a scratch but totally inadequate in the food offering department. Personally, I didn’t think he really needed anything else to eat. I spent a pleasant couple of hours getting this, that and the other thing updated followed by a meander back to the ship.
It was both warm (32*C) and extremely humid accompanied by bright sunshine. Photogray glasses were good, sunblock was even better. It was honestly nice to get back into the ship’s A/C.
Dinner was a progressive affair; we sampled the food in the Tapas Bar, then went on to the sports bar. As it turns out, it is the Sports Bar which is open all night in case one gets the munchies pretty much eliminating the need for after-hours room service unless you just can’t stand the thought of wings, hot dogs, soup or dip in the middle of the night.
Oh, and cheesecake. That would make an excellent 0300 snack.
It seems like such a little thing, that hour of sleep lost, but it wreaks havoc with the best of us. After al, it is only an hour; the first of three we lose on our way to Miami and it is not like we are doing them all at once.
Jill and I spent the day in the Observation lounge working on our respective cross-stitch projects. Me with more than three dozen colors and needing to make changes every few stitches and her with black thread. Of course, I make up for it by using 14 count fabric while she is plying needle and thread through 28 count (double the thread count, four times the stitches per square inch). We were thinking about keeping tract of all those who have stopped by to see our projects.
The highlight today was this lovely French woman, straight, slender, silver haired and elegant. Neither Jill nor I remembered much of our French, she spoke no English but it was wonderful to watch her pleasure in examining Jill’s current project. There was also an American or two, a Canadian, an Australian, a woman from the Philippines and more staff than we really needed. By the end of the day, I had finished somewhere around 1600 stitches (figure 16 10×10 squares) with 62 to go).
I have to mention the food. The observation lounge – forward on deck 12 – had coffee and danish out early and late. It fills that notch between needing food and just something to get you till breakfast. There is no 24 hour dining location on this ship like the larger NCL ships. There are two main dining rooms – same menu in both. We have now eaten in both. No question both the food and the service are far superior to Royal in the last year. NCL apparently is not cutting costs in that area. Way too many Bingo announcements, but excellent quality on the food.
Tomorrow we are in Cabos. It is a tender port. I am going to wander out mid-day for a while. I had it mixed in my head with the next port which is the coffee shop/Walmart/old town stop. In any case, I will try for some wifi. I am not willing to pay the ship rates for connectivity so am being very sparing of my few free internet minutes.
6 Oct 2017 – Blue Angels
Since today was a sea day, I could bore you with a stitch by stitch discussion of a newly started cross-stitch fractal. Or on how Jill decided that the design that looked perfectly lovely on 28 count fabric looked really sucky and clumsy when stitched on 14 count. Me? I like 14 count, but will be deviating into 22 count (these, by the way are threads per inch) for a project that I have planned in order to keep it to a size doable in my life time.
Blue Angels, right.
We were significantly late leaving San Francisco yesterday due to practice activities of Fleet Week. This apparently includes an aerial show presented by the Blue Angels (the fighter exhibition flying team for those not steeped in US Navy military lore). Well, today was practice , the day. The Bay, apparently was closed to large vessel traffic. Or at least large cruise ships. We saw several container ships move out and through. I had heard nothing about small craft warnings so you really have to wonder.
Right after boarding we were treated to about an hour of flyovers featuring 2-4 jets in various close formations circling around, barrel rolling, climbing, diving and coming way to close to each other for my comfort. But then I most assuredly remember Flugtag 88. The three of us detoured to lunch, found our cabins and wandered around a bit.
There was a muster drill, naturally. One of the longest and most exquisitely detailed in my opinion. Glad that it was only English and German or we would have been there a lot longer than 35 minutes. Following that, I headed back up to the Observation Deck and grabbed a lounge chair. It was almost 1600, our scheduled departure. No movement, nothing, but a lot of noise overhead. The jets were back, six of them this time. I am sure there is a reason why the planes were numbered 1,3,4,5,7,7 I am sure there is a reason never mind that it would make more sense to have consecutive numbers? And yes they went by low enough to be able to read the tails. Even double checked the images I took with the camera.
Obviously, this crew was the source of the haze spoiling what would otherwise have been a clear day. They popped over Mt Talapis often enough that I think the air quality in Salsallito must have really sucked.
The Grand Princess was at Pier 27. She sailed out first, then we pulled out, much closer to 1800 than just 90 minutes late. But there were supplies that were loaded, all the late arriving buses from SFO managed to make it through the traffic and I had luggage by the time I got back to my cabin. I would not have wanted to be any civilian aircraft coming into OAK or SFO today. There were too many military aircraft moving at high speed, climbing, diving and otherwise taking up significant airspace over the Bay.
Oh, and one wonders exactly what modifications were made to the biplane……
Here is what is planned:
(and would you believe I can’t find the photo?)
The ship is the NCL Sun…..
Date Port Arrive Depart
Thursday, October 5 San Francisco, CA 4:00pm
Friday, October 6 At Sea
Saturday, October 7 At Sea
Sunday, October 8 Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 8:00am 5:00pm
Monday, October 9 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 11:00am 7:00pm
Tuesday, October 10 At Sea
Wednesday, October 11Huatulco, Mexico 8:00am 4:00pm
Thursday, October 12 Puerto Chiapas, Mexico 8:00am 5:00pm
Friday, October 13 At Sea
Saturday, October 14 Puntarenas, Costa Rica 8:00am 5:00pm
Sunday, October 15 At Sea Monday, October 16
Panama Canal (Full Transit)
Tuesday, October 17 Cartagena, Colombia 10:00am 6:00pm
Wednesday, October 18 At Sea
Thursday, October 19 At Sea
Friday, October 20 Miami, FL 8:00am
and somewhere to go!
I leave in the morning – so expect that tomorrow’s notice may/may not get out by email, but I will have the plan, the route and the timing posted here.
Of course, I packed everything several days ago. Which meant that yesterday I repacked the suitcase to include a number of things forgotten and take out a few that I decided I didn’t need. For example: Halloween happens while I am gone, what fun is it without a costume? I am reprising a combo worn on the NCL Escape trip (which I realize in astonishment was 2015). Of course, adding several costume items did mean a few more things needed to go. Not the craft supplies, but an extra pair of shoes, tops and pants.
Today I took out a few more items of clothing and spent some time deciding if I really needed a large “on ship” bag or could make do with something smaller. Smaller won. I added a few more skeins of embroider floss while downloading more audiobooks. Can’t run out of things to read or listen. This evening I repacked the camera bag so that all I have left to do in the morning is add this laptop and an iPad. And an extra pair of glasses and tooth paste and ….
thank you one and all for letting me know that yesterday’s mail came through
and this is what you missed from Monday…
As it turns out this evening all my good efforts yesterday were rewarded by gmail. Not. At exactly 1947 I started receiving message after message stating that there were mail delays and that they would continue an attempt to deliver yesterday’s email for another 47 hours.
I can understand one or two emails bouncing. That happens all the time especially since I know a significant number of people who travel and might have a full mailbox. But think about it – it is really, really hard to fill a mailbox anymore. At least for anyone who doesn’t use AOL.
But anyway – everything bounced – to include the cc: to my own non-gmail accounts. Go figure. Any who – it wasn’t the highlight of my day. That was rounding up good friends at SFO Airport and bringing them home for a couple of nights.
We will not talk about the traffic on the way home. Bay Bridge construction during the day? Oh, please – thrill us all by closing a couple of lanes before the last SF exit. At least the traffic early in the morning when I drop off Dani and the dog isn’t anything at all.
And now to see what happens with this email…..
Well, considering this past year I am more than pleased to report that I have made it to another birthday.
I planned nothing fancy today, just “doing stuff” on the theory that how you start the year is how you will continue. Considering that we are barely past Yom Kippur (but at least not having to fast today is good) I am not one for any kind of resolutions.
So – I dropped off Dani and Gwen at her job just after 0500 this morning and took a bit of a nap upon return. Then I cleaned up my side of the bedroom putting away clean clothes that have been languishing and figuring out what I am taking on the NCL Sun (departure on the 5th). The studio also received a bit of organization both before and after a grocery run.
The spaghetti sauce is simmering on the stove, the bread and bread sticks are baked, the salad came out of a bag and the noodles are about to go in the pot.
Shana baked the cake. As soon as one the four other people currently residing in this house figures out that someone (read – not me) needs to set the table we might even be able to eat!
Since George is such a good sport about attending As games with me I just couldn’t turn him down when he said he had tickets to the Cal Football game this evening. Since my dental appointment (actually periodontal appointment) at the SFVA this morning went well I didn’t even have pain or discomfort as an excuse.
It was a lovely walk into town. Silly me, I though he said the game started at 1900. It turned out to be 1930 which still doesn’t explain why it took almost 2 hours to get to half-time. Meanwhile the temperature had dropped significantly. I started to get cold even though there really wasn’t any wind. The stadium is well designed that way.
Never mind I was wearing tights, jeans, a turtleneck, a fleece AND a leather jacket – sitting still means the cold started to seep into my bones. By 2130 I was shaking and elected to walk home rather than tough out another couple of hours. I was sorry to miss the Cal Marching band. Ole Miss was leading (non-conference game) and I will spare you my thoughts on their nickname.
It was a long uphill walk, of which I am sure you have heard me complaining about before. I am thinking about a nice warm cup of green tea and a book….
It has been a while since I have bored everyone else, much less myself with the current status of the ongoing renovation/construction.
There was progress while we were gone. Most of it isn’t visible to the eye involving foundation, heating coils, more concrete, and wooden uprights. And then there is the wiring and plumbing. Where before there were wires hanging and occasional circuits in the house not functioning there are now two breaker boxes on the wall of what will become my utility room. There are pipes with valves where there will be plumbing fixtures and sinks There are the beginnings of walls.
The front entry revision has been started.
The windows have been delivered, we have counter tops, tiles and flooring on order along with kitchen appliances. I think we still have to get the majority of the bathroom fixtures and fittings ordered.
Perhaps I need a check list?
In any case, I think there is an end in sight. In fact, I think an end is actually going to happen…
Pictures? Oh, yes. Just have to get them off my phone….
It is Wednesday, with Friday the 13th arriving in the middle of the week. I am sitting in the infusion room at the SFVA. My break is over and I am back to hanging out with other vets and the infusion nurses.
I’ve finished the main run of chemo and am now shifting over to maintenance therapy. No promises but the best guess is that returning for regular infusions (immunotherapy) will prolong remission and I am all for that. Never any promises, but we will see.
So it was up at a really early time this morning, dropping Dani off at work before parking at BART and heading to SF. In a long, round about way, I managed to make my way to the SFVA via the #38 Bus on Geary. I arrived about 10 seconds too late to catch the usual MetroLink bus. This particular driver is overly prompt and doesn’t stop or wait for anyone (unlike the drivers on the previous Bauer Contract). Just after I was leaning disgustedly on the wall, preparing to wait 40 minutes for the next bus another person bound for the VA. In a flash of really dumb thoughts, we decided to head over to Geary and catch the 38R. Said bus, of course, didn’t come along. After waiting a while we grabbed the second 38 and wound up dropped in front of the VA just about the same time as if we had waited for the free shuttle.
None the less, the ride was fun as it was just about only VA staff + a couple of vets by the time that we arrived at 42nd street.
The clinic hasn’t changed but there has been considerable nursing staff turnover since I was here 90 days ago. I was able to give away the bag of lemons I brought and get a latte even before I started my appointments.
It is going to be a long day – I have dental after I finish at the infusion center. But I should be done in time to catch the Metrolink home. By that time, George ought to be home!
other than the fact that we have no power today, it feels like I am falling right back into the routine. And no power? Well, this is a construction zone…
What has changed while I was gone?
The foundation is finished, the outer walls are up and the sunporch is framed. There are wires and plumbing and the actual outline of rooms. There is no longer a front entry way to the house, at least during the day as there is now a gaping hole between the front steps and the top of the stairs. A temporary ramp takes its place in the evening so we have access instead of having to go out through the living room and down the deck stairs (which also involves transversing the construction zone and prepositioned supplies. Eventually we will have a new entry in the front complete with a set of stairs goign down to the lower level.
Imagine that! I won’t have to go outside to get to the laundry room! ‘
Meanwhile, it is errands, drop offs, and all the usual things that fall to the only person in the house currently with both a valid driver’s license and an ability to drive a standard transmission.