Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rounding Third and Heading for Home

Friday, April 24, 2009

Today was the fourth sea day in a row. After the frenetic pace of Livorno-to-Lisbon, we have taken advantage of the peace and quiet by doing as little as possible. D was so tired yesterday that he skipped lunch and stayed in bed from 12:15 until 6:00. MA went to lunch, but she, too, took a long siesta. Seas are “confused” according to the captain, better, we suppose, than bipolar.

The dinner choices are on their third cycle although the combinations have been randomized. Things which were mediocre the first time are no longer appealing. MA has even had the pasta selection two nights in a row, and D has continued to order a chicken Caesar salad. Last night, he didn’t even finish it. Mukti’s cappuccinos have continued to be creative and may be the best part of dinner.

Last night, D left the table early, leaving MA with Sally and Bert, so he could try out for what was billed as the final blackjack tournament. We had convinced Mary that she should try out as well, so she went to the casino when she finished her dinner. By the time D arrived at the blackjack table, the tourney had been canceled because only Mary had shown up. With just the two of us, it was not feasible to offer any prize money and we weren’t really interested in any more T-shirts. [Dora, one of the pit bosses, keeps reminding D that she owes him a drink of any kind to atone for the lower-than-average prize he won earlier] Since D was already in the casino, he squandered the fifteen dollars in chips he had and then returned to the dining room where MA and the Russells were still talking.

Today has been equally lazy. We ate breakfast in the dining room, played trivia and chatted with Scott and Karen who are disembarking in New York in four days. Breakfast was fun because we saw Toro, our dinner waiter, and started singing “Good morning everybody! How are you?” and he responded with “Just fine!” His daughter, who will be five this Fall, sings the same song in nursery school on Bali that Carter sings in Jakarta. It’s a small world after all.

At lunch in the Lido, Linda/Ginger asked us if we were signed up for the Grand World Cruise in Jan 2010. When we said we weren’t, she asked us to reconsider because they wanted to travel with us. After lunch, we checked the e-mail, but the service was so slow we gave it up and headed to the theater for today’s lecture by Sally and Bert. We stopped by the Cruise Lady’s desk and waited to get information, but her client took so long that MA went to the lecture while D waited. He finally got to talk to her and got prices which, although reasonable, were out of our comfort range. The total for the 114 days would have been under $45000 and there were terrific perks, but there was no way to consider it seriously.

MA left the lecture at 3:00 even though it hadn’t ended, and we went to the cabin to discuss the world cruise and for the afternoon ritual nap. Dinner and conversation preceded an early evening.

Tomorrow – Hamilton, Bermuda.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our penultimate port was Hamilton, Bermuda. The day was cloudy but warm [around 70F] and there was no rain. Imagine, a port of call without rain!

As we left the dining room this morning, we saw Mukti who immediately bellowed “Just fine!” at us. Naturally, we yelled back, “Good morning, everybody! How are you?” and he answered again. Toro must have been coaching him. Last night, Mukti brought the first cold coffee drink of the trip. It reminded D of a pousse café [if that is the right term], layered with milk on the bottom topped by coffee and then chocolate, all over ice. It was almost too pretty to stir but too delicious not to. Since Mukti says that most of his recipes are for cold drinks, we think the fun is just beginning.

Bermuda is a collection of beautiful islands. Altogether they comprise only 27 square miles, one-third of the area of Baltimore City. Because it is too small to be self-sufficient, everything has to be imported. According to our guide ten years ago, everyone goes to North Carolina once or twice a year to replenish supplies of staples. Immigration limits are strict, too, to avoid overpopulating this tiny paradise. Houses and office buildings are painted in bright pastels – pink, blue, yellow – giving Hamilton and the surrounding communities the look of Key West without the honky-tonk atmosphere. Bermuda is veddy refined. And expensive. It is a playground for the rich and for tourists; as they say, if you have to ask the cost, you can’t afford buy.

We wandered around the tourist streets of Hamilton – most of the stores face the water and the ship – and had the battery in MA’s watch replaced for only twice what we would have paid in WPB. D resisted the temptation to have his beard trimmed at Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop and we meandered up one street and down another, stopping at a cute little café for a Coke. The urge to find Mukti a lemon meringue pie overtook us when we passed a bakery, but there were none left there. The proprietor steered us to a supermarket a few blocks away where we were successful. The best part of the purchase was seeing grocery carts which said “Publix” on their handles; the store manager said that they buy the carts second-hand from “our” Publix. It was a foreshadowing of days to come. Anyway, we placed the pie in our refrigerator when we returned to the room.

The afternoon proceeded as if we were at sea with lunch and trivia. Although we lost yesterday, Scott and Karen still took home 5 luggage tags; D went to the winners’ table and offered to trade for some other prize, but the winning team was glad to be rid of the bag tags which Karen needed to finish her packing. Usually, we pooh-pooh the luggage tags as not being good motivators even when one of us needs them. We won resoundingly for a change and the prize was, ironically, luggage tags. This time we gave them away. Scott and Karen have only one more trivia session before they leave us. We probably will not score as well without them, but we will still have fun.

As we entered the elevator for lunch this afternoon, another passenger said to D, “You put down the wrong name for me when you printed the Cruise Critic e-mail list. My name isn’t Penny.” Of course, D had no idea who she was and she didn’t offer her correct name. She had kept such a low profile, we weren’t sure we had actually ever seen her before. Nonetheless, D checked the information sheets which he had kept and she was right – her name was listed incorrectly – but since she had never given D her e-mail address, it didn’t really make any difference. On the other hand, several of the other CC members have gone out of their way to thank us for the time and effort we put into organizing the meetings and cocktail party as well as the certificates. Norm and Kay were especially effusive since they knew where their anniversary certificate originated. They are a class act.Sally and Bert ate at the Pinnacle Grill tonight, so there were only three of us to watch night fall. We are going with Mary tomorrow night, so it will be several days until we are all at the table together. There are only four dinners to go before we are home.

MA read after dinner and D e-mailed Roxanne & Ed about 2010 and played blackjack. Time is running out for that, too. Where are the snows of yesteryear?

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