19 April 2018 – Packing Day
It was both luncheon (the ship turned our simple Cruise Critic farewell luncheon into a really fancy meal complete with menus and wine) and packing day.
Lunch was enjoyed by all. Both Carmen and I have distributed the last of our pins. Mine went to the bakers and pastry chefs who provided us with the lovely scones for tea each day at 1500. And the last couple of guides for the cabin crawl and one of the ninjas. You know – those fade into the background sound/light guys who seem to work a million hours.
I am packed, except for the last of the electronics. I managed to make it all fit, even with the addition of a coffee mug, an extra Royal Caribbean beach bag and four towels. At least I think it all fits. The extra bag I brought over has a broken zipper so I have swapped it out for the second of the Royal beach bags. I am checked in for my flight to Southampton which was a concern since couldn’t manage to convince KLM that I had a reservation as of yesterday.
Today? No problems. So I will spend a quiet evening up in the Solarium since the pool is closed and the place is just about empty. I am planning on being up early for the sail-in even though we are not planning on getting off the ship till about 0845.
(And please remember, I am crrently @ GMT+1, not counting daylight savings time. Easy- I am 9 hours ahead of the US West Coast
Yes, to the complete and total surprise of the town, we remained docked overnight. According to several passengers who partied on shore, several of the pubs stayed open past their normal 10 pm closing time in order to accommodate both passengers and crew. The drinkers assured them that our ship was not the Titanic and it was bound for Amsterdam.
I am not sure that the pub really cared as long as the Euros kept flowing.
I wandered off early and came back just about the same. The wind wasn’t as bad as yesterday, but the seas picked up immediately after we left the harbor.
We docked in Cobh promptly on time this morning after another night of rolling seas and various assorted complaints from passengers. I ignore them, but wonder what they would do if the seas became really rough. I figure as long as you can manage to walk down a corridor; in the evening not get tossed out of your bed – it just isn’t that bad.
Say that three times to the chandelier that came down in Chops the other night. No one was sitting below it which was all to the good. There has been a toll on dishes and glassware in various locations.
Oh, yes. Docked. There wasn’t any rain for the morning and people headed off the ship in droves. On tours, on the train, on the bus, on foot. There were more than a few who got partway out, were blown sideways by the wind gusting up to an easy 50 knots and made their way back to the ship. I have been here before, both walking around the local town and heading into Kinsdale, and into Cork. Those tours were lovely, but my idea today was a bit of exercise and no particular strain at all.
The coffee machine is still working plus I have a kettle in the room. Could not ask for much more.
It is official and planned. Today will be our last day at sea in this run. Tomorrow morning we will dock in Cobh and leave there on Wednesday 1600. Yep, overnight. Dublin is completely a non-starter unless someone wants to take the train up on Tues and come back late the same day or the following day prior to sailing.
I don’t really care, but a lot of people really, really want to put foot in Irish soil. Most especially, I am assuming, the two Irish Immigration officers who boarded in the Azores. I don’t think that Amsterdam is in their plans.
Spent the afternoon sitting and relaxing with Carmen while we both did needlework.
I had been planning on using the second meal on my BOGO tonight. Mentioned it to Carmen and Stu, they decided to join me since they have OBC to burn. When I went to round them up in the Colony Club we added two more people to the party. Amazing that I received no pushback from the restaurant going from solo to three to five. Lovely run dinner and I just made it back to the cabin.
Having been to Cobh before, I am going to avoid the mad rush off the ship and head off late morning. This is a stop with a couple of small museums, several nice hotels which serve tea, and a grocery store with yarn tucked up in bags over the dairy case.
in our beautiful pea green boat.
Wait a minute – that is our fellow passengers!
Waterford is definitely off the list, and it looks like Dublin is off the possibilities as well. After sailing a significant distance South as well as East to avoid the worst of the weather some of us wondered why we didn’t just go to Lisbon. That would have been fine with me, but apparently the home office and lots of the passengers really encouraged a stop in Ireland.
Admittedly, Ireland is the reason that a fair number of people say that they booked this cruise. Looking at them, they were going to do a transatlantic, it was just a matter of which on. The Serenade has left Florida on a similar route but a week behind us, hopefully everything will have cleared by the time she gets this far. In any case, I will take safety over any port and no desire to be on shore in pouring rain.
Cross stitch is progressing, so I guess I am keeping myself busy.
This is a sea day. But what I meant to say is that there are a lot of reasons why people fail to maintain their weight or lose weight on a cruise. Now, if the food is horrible, this is not an issue. If it is your first cruise with a particular line, your lack of status usually means that you are spared various offering of food and drink delivered directly to your cabin.
I might have already mentioned being happily surprised when the room service person came back with a number of bottles of water to replace the bottle of wine (sparkling?) that I had politely but firmly refused about the second day of the cruise.
Since then there have been various deliveries of
- plates of small snacky things
- plates of canapes
- a cheese plate
Today was the crowning glory –
Just in case you can’t tell – there is a dark chocolate shell, caramel sauce, a chocolate dipped strawberry with almond. Inside the shell is a coffee flavored mouse with a dusting of expresso on top nestled on a bed of chocolate cake crumb.
I can sit in the cabin, stitch, relax and pretend that I am not a little old grey haired lady!
We docked in the Azores exactly on time this morning. So far the threats of foul weather haven’t quite caught up with us, but they will affect our cruise from here. It has nothing to do with Friday the Thirteenth, but blame can always be cast.
It was mist/foggy/faint rain – whatever you want to call it. The visibility wasn’t terribly high the first thing this morning. I waited till about 1000 figuring that there was no reason to get off ship prior to anything in town being open.
I found a lovely new graffiti that I don’t remember from the last time.
More of the lovely sidewalks and a great, new craft type store located where I used to go for tea towels, floss and yarn. In business for about a year, she has a full line of floss (DMC) fabrics on the bolt for both needlework and quilting, yarn, crochet threads and all needles, hooks and notions one needs for quilting, sewing, knitting and crochet. Oh yes, and for cross-stitch as well. Still a small supply of tea towels for tourists, but it is not their main product.
From there it was wander around – looking at all the lovely patterns in the roads and sidewalks.
Feeling sad at the loss of the small button shop on the corner of the main square and finally heading back to the ship for that all important next meal…
after all, there is always another meal…..
Or Pinnacle Lunch if I am being polite. Which, in this case, I am not.
I received the invitation several days ago to a luncheon for the Pinnacles on board for 1200 in one of the specialty restaurants. Now, I don’t have much, if anything at all in common other than status level in Royal Caribbean’s program. But a free lunch is s free lunch.
Well…. my first error of the morning was closing my eyes for a few minutes which led to waking in a panick shortly after noon. Hustling down to the meeting place, I skidded in just as everyone was settling in for lunch. There were name cards.
At first I thought it was great luck to be seated on the end. Then the “gentleman” next to me started talking. He was loud, intrusive and seemed inclined to think we all wanted his opinions and stories.
I suffered through lunch. As an aside, the food in the Windjammer has been most excellent. Much better than this, beautifully plated but meh. The service was strange with one side of the rable receiving their meals 15 minutes before the second side. Fleeing the scene as soon as it was polite to do so, I rate the ship high on effort but well beliw the Explorer, Serenade, Splendour or Legend in execution.
Back into my cubby without voices ringing in my ears. Thank you very much
For now at least. Jumping forward yet another hour tonight will put us in libe with Ponte Delgada. It also places me seven hours ahead of family on the weat coast. The mind boggles.
Meanwhile, I am hanging out in one of the lounges in the morning with cross stitich to give my cabin attendant a chance to clean and spending the afternoon quietly relaxing on my couch with an audio book playing. I am skipping just about any/all organized or formal events. For that matter, I haven’t bothered to locate my section in the main dining room. The selection in the buffet has been excellent on those evenings where diner had been in order.
Lost again tonight. This will make tge third time zone change in six nights. Add to that the three hours I lost somewhere over the US on my way to Tampa and yiu start to see the extent of my confusion. Not helped by this particular ship’s captain who seens to like pushing ahead in the middle of the night. Personally, I like east bound changes in the middle of tge day. 1200 becomes instantly 1300. When wvening comes, the night is the same length. Getting shorted an hour of activities to me is better than losing one of my rare hours of sleep.
The house in California is still standing as reported by family there. Others teaveling seem to be doing ok. All four legged members are ok and Dani’s two seem to be adjusting to their new (renovated) digs.
I am more than capable of entertaining myself. In fact, I am probably old and cranky enough that I prefer my own company to that of strangers who don’t know when to stop talking.
And some of them talk, and talk and talk….
I neither arranged any needlework group or went to find if there was one. I have found that sitting quietly in the Concierge Lounge in the morning gives me access to as many Lattes as I am stupid enough to drink, a seat with decent light near one of the windows and the added benefit of having a 220v power point directly accessible.
Today I had the pleasure of a lovely and extremely funny Irish-Canadian lady. Patty lives near Toronto. Her journey from Ireland to attend Uni in Canada turned out to be pretty much a one way trip. (Not counting visits to relatives in Belfast on a regular basis). The kids are now grown, there are grandchildren and she has been dragging around a cross stitch of a Celtic Cross for a while needing only part of a border and a lot of backstitching.
We have agreed to encourage each other for the next few sea days and see what happens. I don’t mind that she is a tea drinker (kind of like my daughters) and she will ignore my coffee…….
8 April 2018 – Do I want to be a student again?
I thought about it this morning. The last time I had to sit in a classroom or deal with grades was 1985. That is right, more than 30 years ago. I still have not touched my post 9-11 GI Bill. All except for Miriam have aged out of eligibility. When she and Noah were eligible, they first were using their VA benefits. End result is that I have up to 36 months of educational benefits which will expire in 2021 shortly after my passport will expire. Not that the two have exactly anything to do with each other but that will be the 10 year mark since I retired from the Army.
Apparently now benefits have to be used in 15 years, but I don’t think that change is retroactive. And in any case, giving me another five years just means that I will be five years older. It is a good change and will benefit those who retired at 20 years with small children in the house. Benefits won’t expire before those children have a chance to benefit.
But me? Do I want to let the whole things go? Or do I want to go back to school. And since I already have three degrees, what do I really want with another degree.
Given all of that, I have been looking at University California, Hastings Law School. No – I have absolutely no interest in becoming a lawyer – one of those in the family is more that enough, thank you. But they have a Masters of Studies in Law program that might be interesting. It is designed for health care, tech and public policy types who need to understand the law (in order to use/abuse it). I applied on a lark,, sort of. Like any other application process it was a pain. Paying the application fee wasn’t the issue, it was working myself up to asking a couple of friends for recommendations and getting copies of all transcripts sent to the school. That is right, all transcripts. Apparently it has something to do with having completed files for accreditation inspections and qualifications. I am not sure how relevant an undergraduate transcript from the late 60s is, but obviously, my opinion on that item wasn’t asked. At least both U of MN and Johns Hopkins can send everything secure electronically and I didn’t have to wait for the mail (and cheaper. Nice.)
They are willing to have me start in the fall. In fact, fall starts are mandatory since they offer certain required courses only in the fall.
This is going to play havoc with both my professional meeting schedule and the fall transatlantic cruise season.
There was an alternative through Hastings-UCSF in Health Policy as an on-line course, but if I am going to do this, I think that in person would be better.
Besides, once I get through, I will help them restructure so that the course is more interning to the working person for whom it is designed. No one who is working full time can take out 1-2 years for a degree. The MBA programs have figured this out and just about all offer night/weekend extended options for the mid-career professional.
Just what I need – a new windmill upon which to tilt!
Imagine my surprise late this afternoon when I received yet another knock on the cabin door. Room service had attempted earlier to gift me with a bottle of something. Probably sparkling wine since that was the size and shape of the bottle. I have learned through bitter experience that their “non-alcoholic” wine is totally undrinkable. No one could drink it. Mad Dog 20/20 or Boones Farm Apple from high school days are high end compared to this stuff. I don’t know what it is about attempts to create “non-alcoholic” equivalents, but I strongly suggest that turning them all down is in much better taste let alone healthier. Now – there is some sparkling grape juice which isn’t half bad – but that starts with a decent quality of white grape juice….
Never mind. Anyway, the young person was back, and brought me bottles of water! He had asked if there was something else I would rather have. Water was my reply, thinking that if I am drinking some to most of my calories it was going to be in the form of lattes, not sodas.
and there you see it – my portable water supply!
For the moment, imagine you are not with me on the Brilliance – rather you are back in Berkeley looking at what was – for about a year – a gravely, muddy mess filled with pickup trucks and construction debris. The fact that everything was picked up (without me getting yet another flat tire), ground prepped and base laid down is even more astonishing.
Admittedly, photos taken on a cell phone and passed over to be aren’t always outstanding, but this one does the job. You can see my new fence along the back line. No more worrying about someone backing up a few cm too far and getting dropped backwards down a hill. No worries about potholes in cement that was poured sometime before 1960. What I have are mostly grey pavers (manmade stone) with an occasional hint of some other color). Phots not taken at twilight don’t show the color variation as much.
But it is a definite improvement and the end is in sight!
Meanwhile, this is a sea day. Cross-stitch and audiobooks are the order of the day.
of the Seas is a ship which I haven’t been on since 2010. At that time, it could only be said as the worst ship/cruise I had ever taken. Partly from the fellow passengers and mostly from crew attitude. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt that way since there have been serious changes on the ship since then.
Anyway – I am headed across in the company of others. It is one of those times when I could kick myself for not having travel insurance since there is enough going on at home that I might rather be staying.
In any case –
|Thursday, April 5||Tampa, FL||5:00pm|
|Friday, April 6||At Sea|
|Saturday, April 7||At Sea|
|Sunday, April 8||At Sea|
|Monday, April 9||At Sea|
|Tuesday, April 10||At Sea|
|Wednesday, April 11||At Sea|
|Thursday, April 12||At Sea|
|Friday, April 13||Ponta Delgada, Portugal||8:00am||5:00pm|
|Saturday, April 14||At Sea|
|Sunday, April 15||At Sea|
|Monday, April 16||Cork (Cobh), Ireland||8:00am||5:00pm|
|Tuesday, April 17||Dublin, Ireland||11:30am||10:30pm|
|Wednesday, April 18||Waterford (Dunmore East), Ireland||7:00am||4:00pm|
|Thursday, April 19||At Sea|
|Friday, April 20||Amsterdam, Holland|
I haven’t ever sailed out of Tampa – so that is the “port” that is new to me.
When you read this – I will be underway….
It might be a lovely city to visit, and I have done that, with nice weather and friendly people it is NOT, repeat NOT a place to change planes if you are flying Southwest. Since I am headed to Tampa, it was obvious that I was going to have to change planes somewhere. It is easy as pie to walk to my local bus stop and admire my neighbors fence while waiting for the bus –
which kind of takes away the pain of finding you have missed the 65 which heads down the hill every 20 minutes in the middle of the day by about… oh, let us say … 5 minutes which results in a rather long wait. Once on the bus, getting to Berkeley and BART to Oakland Airport is easy. Being gifted again with TSA pre-check, I sailed through security and had plenty of time to fix my lack of coffee while waiting in the terminal. Boarding – no problem.
And then there is San Diego. Gates 1 & 2 are physically separated from the rest of the gates used by Southwest. And by separated I mean you go OUT past security and baggage claim, past the checkin counters and have to run the gauntlet of TSA once again to reach Gate 6. There is no short cut, there is no pass by (which is routine at most airports where you have to go from one quasi-connected terminal to another). Even Frankfurt deals with this. Heathrow? Just one more of the reasons that I avoid Heathrow at all costs.
But where was I? Oh yes, going through security once again and hoping that I wasn’t going to miss my boarding position.
Then onwards to Tampa where I rounded up my luggage, finally tracked down the hotel shuttle (how was I to know that RED had both an area 1 and and area 2 pickup zone?) and checked in to the hotel. I felt like I had lived through each and every minute of those missing three hours of time zone change. Exhausted, I crawled into bed. Then couldn’t fall asleep……
downstairs yet this month.
The kids are working diligently on sorting out their stuff and figuring out what needs to be stored (seasonal), what needs to get relocated downstairs and what just might go the way of the recycling.
Their furniture is mostly in, there is stuff on the wall.
Is it evil of me to say that I am looking forward to them, and most especially the dogs, having their own space?
Not us, but Southwest Airlines.
We didn’t find out our plane was delayed until after we arrived at the airport, dropped off bags and hustled through security.
0940 Departure said the board.
Oh. Apparently there needed to be a plane change due to a pending late arriving aircraft.
Then it was a mechanical issue and a new plane was coming in from LA.
Meanwhile, we waited and waited. The flight actually didn’t leave till 1120 or so…. I entertained myself by talking to a lot of different people. A nice lady was headed to Oakland for a couple of days of meetings but didn’t actually have anything on the schedule today other than coordinating with the colleague who would have the rental car coming in from a different city. A gentlemen heading to Las Vegas for four days. Working for Staples – he will be manning a booth at some kind of convention. Several others headed back to the East Bay, most of whom had planned on being at work by noon….
Oh – I know what I forgot to mention! George has to be in San Diego tomorrow. In fact, he has a 1545 flight from Oakland to San Diego. Now, if I had originally known about this, I would have simply booked him from PHX to San Diego. He checked with Southwest; they would rather not retrieve his suitcase and change flights as they were now predicting at least two hours between flights. (Bags checked because we were far enough down the numbers I didn’t think there was going to be overhead compartment room on the flight – my bad).
It was about 1330 when we arrived in Oakland. After claiming the luggage, George headed for check in and I found the car in the long term parking, paid the ransom and headed for home. I didn’t even unpack tonight, just decided to get some sleep.
Today was not the day for the White Sox. Just to let you know that up front. End score was 14:0 in favor of the As.
This was the final game of tickets provided on our Spring Training Package and we wound up seated in section 100 which is directly behind home plate. The various scouts were in the row behind us. The two closest were more than sociable; complete with their own radar guns. A good reminder that fast and control are two entirely separate entities. Duh, I think – that is more than obvious with cars and drivers – why wouldn’t it be the same for pitchers of baseball.
I just relaxed and enjoyed the game. Afterwards we joined a friend at the Culinary Dropout – fun restaurant located in a warehouse near the main ASU campus in Tempe. From there it was barely a 10 minute drive to our hotel for the night. I elected to not bother to return the car this evening as it ours till morning anyway. This was after checking our plane tickets and finding we were not on the 0530 flight but the 0840 instead.
Today the As played two games in what is known as a split squad. Part of the team played at Hohokam against the Seattle Mariners and the other half traveled (not exactly far) to Scottsdale to face off against the Giants at 1605. Our tickets were for the first game. Admittedly, getting to see the whole ballpark on a private tour was pretty neat. Behind the fence where normally you can’t go are batting cages, extra training areas, an infield and a complete ball field
The visiting locker room where the manager spent time talking about how things have changed over the years and the filming of “Money Ball”-
After watching batting practice –
there was a chance to talk with three of the players – all of whom were extremely nice, professional willing to sign autographs
Should I mention some of the fans take the event rather seriously?
and lastly –
The As had been doing well. Handing the Mariners a pitch on a platter? Well, we lost.
The “Second Team” which was playing the Giants? Beat them 8-3… go figure. Should have braved Scottsdale.