Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tenerife Times Two

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Traveling to Tenerife Today was another lazy day in port. We had visited Tenerife in 2001. At that time, we took a ship’s tour to see an orchid garden. We passed Mount Teide, the highest point in Spain; visited the garden; and were unceremoniously dumped at the beach and told to go shopping until the bus returned in 2 hours. Luckily, we had books with us and spent the time reading by the water. This time, we had no plans.

After a late breakfast, we lazed around until almost 11:15. While MA read, D went in search of information about the Hop On-Hop Off bus and discovered we were less than a ten-minute walk from the nearest stop. He bought tickets good for unlimited rides for one day. Once we got moving, we wended our way to the bus stop and hopped on. Although the view is better from the open deck on top of the bus, the steps leading up are steep and narrow, so we stayed under cover. For the next hour, we rode around Santa Cruz, the capital city of Tenerife. D took some pictures but they were all through the bus’s windows so weren’t really too good. Almost every time he saw something he wanted to photograph, either the bus moved or some tree was in the way.

Santa Cruz de Ternerife is a typical European city with lots of highrise apartment buildings and dwellings rising several stories above shops. There are numerous parks and statues, and a mixture of classic and modern architecture. It seems to be a very livable city. We saw people going about their business with no one approaching us to buy bracelets, Polex watches or t-shirts. The city was clean and the people purposeful. There is a pedestrian shopping area, complete with McDonald’s and its free wi-fi, within easy walking distance of the ship.

We decided to leave the bus at a park near the harbor. After an hour, our tushes were tired and we knew we could always get the next bus since they run on a twenty-minute schedule. We discovered, though, that we were practically at the bus stop where we had boarded an hour earlier. It was short walk back to the ship. Once aboard, we dropped our things in the room and went to the Lido for lunch. We ate outside by the pool; it was warm but not hot and there was a nice breeze. It was practically empty because most of the passengers were out on tours. We ate our ice cream with Dave and Linda [from Trivia] and then went to the Ocean Bar to read, write and claim our Trivia table.

No one else from the team showed up today, but we weren‘t expecting any, so we joined another team and had a good time. “Good time” is code for “we lost.”

While MA took the afternoon rest, D went back into town to find AA batteries since his new camera seems to eat them. Siesta had not ended and most shops were still closed. He saw the McD’s and felt morally obligated to buy a Coke so he could use the wi-fi. Almost 45 minutes later he headed back to the ship but found a shop with AAs, so he bought some for a bit less than he would have paid on the ship. Of course, on the ship he would have used some of the credit that’s on the bill, but he was hopeful that these were fresher than the ones on shipboard.

We hurried through dinner [Cobb salad/paella] so we could get seats at tonight’s show, a folkloric presentation by a local group. The showroom was packed since there was only the one performance, but Trivia Linda had saved seats in our regular place. The show was dynamic consisting mostly of group dances to drum accompaniments. Costumes were gaudy [and skimpy!] and we were reminded of Le Cage aux Folles and The Boy from Oz. By the time it was over, we were exhausted.

MA read and went to bed and D updated the journal and did some banking in the Ocean Bar before retiring for the night.

Sad Note #1 – D seems to have lost the wireless mouse for the computer and will return to McD’s tomorrow morning to see if it was turned in there. It’s not a tragedy but it is an inconvenience and embarrassment.

Sad Note #2 – Roxanne e-mailed that a Carnival exec was quoted as saying that the company, which owns HAL, is canceling cruises to Morocco as well as Tunisia and Egypt as well as some stops in Israel. D found the quote in USA Today from March 23. Today is the 29th. Why doesn’t anyone here know anything??

Tomorrow – Another day of nothing in Santa Cruz de Tenerife [and wondering about North Africa] Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tenerife II

With nowhere to go and noting to do, we slept late, an easy thing to do when sunrise is 8:00 or so. After breakfast, D walked once again into town to search for the missing mouse. What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday, the only ships in port were us and a Silver Sea ship. The Silver Sea ships are quite small, holding only a few hundred passengers. While we spent the night in port, the Silver Cloud [or whatever it was] was gone when we awoke. In her place were ships from Oceana, Costa, MSC and Norwegian Cruise Lines. The Captain said there would be an additional 10000+ people in town today and he wasn’t far off. Let’s put it in perspective: the Prinsendam carries 830 people when full, according to Fermin, and has 8 life boats hanging at her sides. The Oceana Insignia has only 12 boats, but the Costa Fortuna has 24; the MSC Fantasia has 28; and the NCL Behemoth of the Seas has a whopping 32 lifeboats!

As a result of this assault on Santa Cruz, everything was jam-packed. The pedestrian shopping area was a sea of people anxious to spend euros and the outdoor cafes were very busy at 10:00 with customers already drinking beer and wine. As the morning wore on and became lunchtime, the crowds at the cafes just got worse. There were hawkers in the mall trying to lure the unwary into jewelry and electronics shops. The most telling sight, though, was the line for the HO-HO bus. When we rode yesterday, there was plenty of room on the bus and no lines of people waiting to board. By comparison, today there was no room visible on the buses which passed by the ship and the line to board seemed to have several hundred people in it at 10:00. Even at 1:30, there was still a short line.

D battled the crowds and went to Mickey D’s in search of the errant mouse. When he was finally able to find someone who spoke a little English, he was still unsuccessful. The staff was sympathetic but helpless. To make matters worse, McD’s wi-fi wasn’t working properly, so he couldn’t even check e-mail. Others from the ship were having the same problem and Danielle from the Cruise Staff said that the manager swore it would be working in 10 minutes. It wasn’t important, so D didn’t wait around. He also stopped in the shop where he bought the batteries yesterday but could not make them understand that he was looking for a lost rodent; the salesman simply showed him where the mice were on display. Instead, of buying a new mouse, he went “home” where he looked up prices for mice on his Kindle. Although the ones available in Santa Cruz were not name brands, they were a bit less expensive than at Staples, so D schlepped back to town to buy a new, lime green, mouse. It isn’t great but it’s better than nothing.

We had lunch on the back Lido deck since there was no wind and then went down to the Ocean Bar to read, do crossword puzzles and update the journal before Trivia. Only Sandra showed up so we three joined three others including Louise with whom we share shore adventures. We managed to score 14/17 today, good enough for a second-place tie.

v Who starred in both The King and I and From Here to Eternity? v Who was the shortest Beatle? v What is the only former-Soviet Baltic country whose name does not start with L? v Who first recorded Light My Fire? v What is the English word for a small piece of garlic? v What is the second most common element in the universe? v In which country was the mambo introduced in the 1930s?

Louise and Sandra joined us in the Java Bar for yuppie coffee drinks before we sailed away. MA went to the cabin, and D retrieved his camera and went topside to take some last pictures of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Sandra and her husband Alan were on deck 13 and Louise was on deck 12, all doing the same thing.

We had our pre-dinner drinks in the Crow’s Nest again. It was Happy Hour and we figured we could get two glasses of wine for the price of one. Instead, we got four for the price of two, so D had his first drink of the cruise. We had the first glass in the Crow’s Nest and carried the second glass to the MDR, trying to look sophisticated. That didn’t last long considering the high jinks of our dining room stewards. Tonight, Mega the assistant started calling D either Mr. Cool or Mr. Cucumber because he was wearing a cool tie with Looney Tunes characters. Unfortunately, he went to the wrong table and said it to some other man. He and Khaye the bar server came to our table and crouched down to try to hide, laughing all the while. After dinner, Bahtiar made us the third in the series of origami figures. Tonight’s was a little puppet which he said was his daughter’s favorite.

The show featured two musicians who played about twenty instruments between them with an emphasis on pan pipes and recorders. There were also lots of drums and cymbals, guitars and a violin. Their repertoire included American, South American and European music, from El Condor Pasa to Turkey in the Straw. They changed instruments faster than the quick-change artists changed clothes. Although the show did not have the energy level of the folkloric show, we enjoyed it anyway.

We read until midnight and then turned off the lights.

Tomorrow -- Lanzarotte

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