Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sailing to Spain

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And on the Seventh Day…

Today was a much-needed day at sea. Although we had tours in only 2 ports, we have had a stretch of five port days in a row. Everyone on board is tired. On top of that, we will lose two hours off the clock in two days [well, nights] so, as Thom put it at the show, When passengers have a 7:15 a.m. tour on Monday, it will feel like 5:15.

Our day-and-a-half in Morocco was busy, busy, busy, so we were as happy as everyone else to do nothing today. We slept in so late this morning that we had to eat breakfast in the Lido buffet at 10:30 and then scurry to Trivia at 11:30. No prizes for us again.

-- Who was the first athlete pictured on a Wheaties box? Name the sport. -- What town became a popular tourist destination after The Night of the Iguana was filmed there? -- What country has the most UN World Heritage sites? -- Which Canadian province is home to the largest fresh water supply in the world? -- Who was the winner of 5 gold medals in speed skating in the 1980 Olympics? -- Who was the Iron Chancellor? -- What nation has the highest percentage of bicycle riders? -- What was Tony Curtis’s name at birth? -- What product used the slogan, “A little dab will do you?” -- What beer said it made Milwaukee famous?

The rest of the day was spent being idle. We were good at it.

Last night, Bob and Kay Topscher, whom we met on this cruise in 2008, asked us if we would come as their guests when they renew their wedding vows. This trip marks their fiftieth anniversary. The ceremony will be next week in the Captain’s quarters. We feel honored to be included.

Tonight was another formal night. MA wore the jacket she bought at the crafts barn at the V&A in Capetown and D wore his tuxedo again. We were finished with dinner by 9:00, even earlier than usual. Because of the time change [the second of the two-in-a-row], the show for the late seating was changed to 6:30 so people did not have to stay up late. We did not go at 6:30 and had no place else to go. We checked e-mail before returning to our cabin where we found tonight’s “pillow” gift, a pair of plush camels.

Tomorrow -- Cartagena, Spain

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cartagena Quickie

We arrived in Cartagena, Spain, around 7:00 this morning so some poor fools could drag themselves to buses. Thom had the decency to postpone his morning greeting until 8:45 when most people were at least semi-conscious. We finally made it to the MDR around 9:20, later than usual but there was no rush to go anywhere. We shared the table and conversation with the rabbi and his wife and a CC couple, Roberta and Stephen. We think we were the last customers in the MDR today.

We had a surprise in our mailbox when we returned to the room. Guest Speaker Kate Ross sent us the nicest note thanking us for including her and her husband in the Rabat excursion. She took notes the whole time we were “on the go” and will probably use the experience for a lecture somewhere sometime. This was the first time anyone ever sent a hand-written note of thanks although there was applause in the minivan yesterday.

Cartagena derives its name from the time of Hannibal [remember the elephants?]. Its original name, which morphed into the present spelling and pronunciation, meant simply “little Carthage.” It is a pretty little town with enough antiquities to satisfy those who want to see them – fort, Roman theater, museum, etc. – but we did not feel like climbing steep hills or steps. Broken down ruins look pretty much alike everywhere. Instead of doing the educational activities, we walked along the harbor to the pedestrian mall.

We were here in 2009, so we had a good idea of what to expect. Nothing had changed as far as we could tell although we did see some metal statues which we missed last time. We walked and watched the people, stopping to talk with other passengers. We shared the town with people from the Costa Marina [that’s Marinara spelled wrong], so the shopping area was crowded; it was not as bad as Santa Cruz de Tenerife was but it was still bustling. Cafes were full of locals and tourists with many of the Prinsendam crowd filling tables at a café which offered free wi-fi if you bought something. After spending untold thousands on the cruise, they were excited to save a couple of bucks by using the free internet service.

We had two goals today only one of which was known to MA. Our primary goal was to find a bakery we saw in ’09. It made such a strong impression on us that we wanted to actually buy something this year. Last time, we had to drag ourselves away from the aroma of fresh-baked pastries. Today, we went in when we found it and looked around to confirm we were in the right place, then left vowing to stop again to make our purchase[s] on the way back through the mall area. We were true to our word, almost, and did indeed stop on the way back, but MA refused to go in again for fear that she would lose all self-control. Her decision left D to do the dirty work. He bypassed the yummy looking Danish and doughnuts and bought a bag of almond cookies so we could share them at Trivia. We may not win too often but we have the best fed team in the room.

Walking back toward the ship, D saw a branch of the Caixa bank. He had bought tickets to the Alhambra on line through Caixa. The web page had said that the tickets could be printed at most of the bank’s ATMs, so he went in while MA stood in the warmth of Cartagena. The bank wasn’t air-conditioned, so MA may have been more comfortable. Nonetheless, D waited to speak to a clerk who walked him to the ATM and helped him get started.

Fortunately, the machine offered instructions in a half-dozen languages including English. The directions were fairly clear and D’s only worry was that the ATM would not recognize or react to his credit card. Since the on-line purchase in February, the card number was used to purchase jewelry in South America. The credit card company called because the purchase triggered their fraud alert. When we told them we had not made the purchase and had no knowledge of the transaction, Capitol One canceled the card and over-nighted a new one which arrived the day before we left on the cruise. Long story short – the old card worked without any problems and the ATM spit out our four tickets and a receipt. Now, when we get to Grenada and the Alhambra, we will not have to wait in a line to get tickets.

We continued back to the ship with D taking pictures of more metal statues. He took the same ones two years ago, but we want to prove we have been here twice. Back in the cabin, we exchanged the camera for the Trivia bag, the netbook, both Kindles, candy and the cookies from Cartagena and went to the Lido for lunch. Today there was a Mediterranean cookout with paella, sausage, pork chops, salmon and other things. Trivia Linda [not to be confused with Mrs. Rabbi] and Dave joined us for lunch and agreed to come to our table for dinner. While we ate, D used the Kindle to catch up on e-mail and send messages to several tour operators as well as Jon and Emily. Soon it was 2:30, Trivia time.

-- How many US state capitals have the same first letter as the name of the state? -- Long before Michael Jackson, what popular singer used to wear white gloves? -- What are the aboriginal natives of New Zealand called? -- Who is married to Beyonce? -- From what language do we get the word ”honcho?” -- What is the French phrase for seeing something over again? -- In which song did Elvis sing, “And you ain’t no friend of mine?” -- Which country is home to the emu? -- What is the name of the pastry used in cream puffs? -- What is Canada’s largest island?

We tied for first and lost another tie-breaker. [When did Joe DiMaggio marry Marilyn Monroe?] Maybe we should change our team name from HAL 9000 to Bridesmaids.

Tomorrow – Mahon, Spain

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