Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our Caribbean Ports

Our fist stop was Falmouth, not Kingston.  We have visited Jamaica before, toured the countryside and been to Dunn's River this time, we decided to just relax in the port area which was very clean, modern, spacious..... 

Then we decided to walk a bit further in to Falmouth.....which was not so nice, modern, clean nor spacious......

Read this sign carefully!  Some things in the Caribbean are very inexpensive......and others AREN'T!!!!

Decided to return to "open" area and taste a bit of the Jamaican rum and/or beer......suddenly, Tom BOLTS from his chair, and runs to where, I'm wondering....(as many of you know, this is not typical behavior of my husband).....he found friends and neighbors, Ray and Peggy Geist and Bob and Norma Hammett!!!!!  They were in the same port, same day, same time....different ship!  A worn out, but true cliche......small world!  so you better behave everywhere!  cuz what happens in _____________, may not STAY in ____________!

Our second port is Bonaire, a very small Dutch island with only 16,000 residents on 22 square miles.  Tom has wanted to scuba here for many years.....and did so, reporting that it was a good dive....only one dive but they were down 55' for a full hour with good visibility.....beautiful coral, parrotfish, moray eels.  While Tom was under the water, Kathy toured the island by i missed my rusty ole Granny bike from home....had to use hand gears and brakes....and mine was the only bike without any numbers on the gears....I have several scars on my left shin from panicked "stops".  One time gushed blood and their first aid box had a 10 yr old band-aid that blew off immediately!  we only rode 10 miles, but it took 4!!!! hours......"you in the islands, mon!"  These two were our very talkative guides......

Our final stop in the Caribbean was Aruba, a larger, more wealthy Dutch island.  We hired a private taxi for ourselves and four of our dinner table "mates".  This is "Casibari" rock, seen from the road below.  It is where the Arawak Indians, a peaceful, farming tribe, would meet to negotiate their differences.

View from atop the Rock

The following are a few snapshots of upper middle class homes in Aruba......cost approximately $150,000 with a property tax of $1000/year. 

The oldest church on the island....800 years old

A real slice of culture, our guide, Rocky (the one on the left!) of only 400 LEGAL cab drivers on the island who told us that he just "f________ lucky" to get the license....also manages upscale homes for wealthy snowbirds.....Rocky's mantra is:  "money talks, bullshit walks"!  And now a sea day or two before we transit the Panama Canal.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Queen Elizabeth - Getting on and getting settled

A fond farewell and many, many thanks to Nancy and Judd for our delivery to Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, FL.  They dropped us off right on time....2:30 p.m., as Cunard requested.

You may note from these pictures that the line is quite are quite a matter of fact, the line did not move for TWO HOURS!!!!! Many people had been waiting since 11:00 a.m.  We were among the lucky ones who arrived late.....U. S. Customs came aboard and required individual fingerprints of each of the 1,500 debarking non U. S. citizens   AND each of the 1,100 debarking non U. S. crew members.....It took NINE (9) HOURS for the total process and no one from the ship was allowed to leave.....for a tour, to explain the problem....for any reason....Dare we say,  lots of grumbling....we were to sail at 6 onboard after 5 p.m. and to the credit of the crew, captain, etc....we sailed at 6:15!!

Does this look familiar????  Same chaos....just piled on a different bed.....unpacking for a MONTH onboard is much more fun than PACKING!!

Just a FEW of the many, many photos around the ship of various passengers....and the history of the the way, this is the Queen Elizabeth, not the QE II, even though this vessel is named for the current Queen Elizabeth who is, in fact, Queen Elizabeth II...go figure!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Journey Begins....

It may not look like it, but two beds were covered with clothes 5" deep.....our dear friend, Lynne Ogle, came to "help".....she suggested that perhaps Kathy should try on a few of the "older" items of clothing...just to be sure they fit.....did so, and two zippers split wide open....had to go shopping to replace....hit 70% sale at Stein Mart and had to repack......

and got it ALL in these four suitcases!!!

Nancy and Judd Hunt are driving us to the ship......are they wonderful or what?.....via Gainesville, FL.  Here we are checking in to the Reitz Union Hotel, located in the STUDENT UNION of the University of Florida!!!  Yeah, there we are, returning to college, how times have changed.....Staying in the student union turned out to be a great idea....parked the car and never got in it again.  We walked everywhere!

Both of these pictures were taken from our hotel balcony......we were THAT close to the football stadium and the basketball arena, known as "The Dome".   The Hunt's share our addiction to college basketball, so we got tickets to the Florida/Missouri game on Saturday, February 19......

What we hoped to be a close game was a rout......Florida won by 31 points.....and it was the first time Tom and Kathy, Tennessee, Georgetown and Arkansas alumni and fans, EVER cheered for Florida!  We all decided that the University looks like a giant park filled with lovely lakes, parks, gardens, pathways, picnic tables......and some big buildings.