29 May 2009

Vacation: Ireland Port of Call

We arrived at Cobh Harbor in the fog and mist and cold. Fortunately, the day did not stay that way.

The train from Cobh to Cork left from right where the boat docked. Once we got to Cork, we took a bus tour around the city. Some of those streets were disturbingly narrow, twisty and on the side of hill. Several times I thought I would die. I could just envision the bus plummeting down the hill side and impaling me on a tree.

Once we finished the bus tour, we walked to St. Fin Barre's Cathedral. This was quite a lovely cathedral. We were unable to take photographs inside because a service was occurring at the time.

After we returned to Cobh, we went through the Heritage Center. Then we climbed up about a thousand steps and went to a little museum that had lists of passengers on ships bound for the United States and Canada.  We have ancestors who emigrated from Ireland in the 1800s, and we think we found some of them in the museum.

As we left Cobh Harbor, the sun was shining and all was right with the world!

28 May 2009

Vacation: The Azores Port of Call

The second stop on our cruise was Ponta Delgada, the Azores, Portugal. We arrived later than scheduled due to some issue with the currents or the wind or something on the Atlantic.

Mom and I didn't have any real plans for our stop in the Azores. We debarked and walked around the town.

We walked around part of the city, saw the City Gates and went inside two churches - São Pedro and São Sebastiao.

I tried to find a place with wifi because I wanted to send an email to a friend of mine (it was her birthday), but alas, I needed a password for the only wifi I found.

27 May 2009

Vacation: Bermuda Port of Call

After about five days at sea, in which we saw about three ships, we arrived in King's Wharf, Bermuda. Once we got off the boat (which was a very confusing process), Mom and I took the ferry to Hamilton.

We walked around the city and managed to find the Bermuda National Library. Mom had read somewhere on the Internets that the library housed John Smith's diary or memoir, and people should ask to see it. 

Well, we tried. Unfortunately, the staff had no idea what we were talking about.

So, we moved on to other sites. We went inside the cathedral and the Assembly House.

Then we headed back toward the docks on the bus. We stopped at Horseshoe Bay, which was stunning. I don't really like the beach, but this one was just beautiful. The water must have been every shade of blue and the rocks were black and rugged. I adore rocks and water together, so this was wonderful.

Our next stop was Gibb's Hill Lighthouse.

I climbed to the top and was rewarded with breathtaking views of Bermuda everywhere I looked.

We headed back to the ship on the bus. This was the most painful bus ride of my life. It was full, so we had to stand and hold onto the straps. And I'm short! So I had to stretch to reach the straps. The bus driver would speed around tight curves and then slam on the brakes when someone requested a stop. The ride was about thirty minutes of pure torture.

After the bus ride and bit of shopping, it was a relief to climb back onboard the ship and lay down!

26 May 2009

Vacation: The Cruise

We sailed on the Voyager of the Seas out of Galveston for a two-week trans-Atlantic cruise. When the Voyager was first built in 1999, she was the largest ship ever built.

After dinner on our first night, our waiter, Lotfi from Tunisia, told us the next night would be a formal night. Mom and I told him we wouldn't be there then. We had brought clothes, but they weren't terribly dressy.

But Lotfi assured us we should come, telling us people would not all be dressed formally. He told us escargot would be served. When he said that, I leaned over to Mom and said, "Slippery little suckers."

And Lotfi said, "No, they are not in the shell."

Lotfi totally got my Pretty Woman reference! I loved Lotfi after that. He was great. (The escargot wasn't bad, either.)

Our assistant waiter was Nikiel from South Africa. When the ship docked in Southampton, he was heading home. He looked very much like one of Mom's students from my hometown, although it took us almost ten days to figure that out.

Nikiel was great, too. He kept our iced tea glasses full throughout supper and brought me ketchup for my steak.

Polat, our head waiter from Turkey, made sure we were completely satisfied with the food every night.

Mom also loved our stateroom attendant, José from Costa Rica. He kept the ice bucket full, and that made her more happy than anything.

Aside from escargot, I had always had the chilled soups. My favorite was the Golden Pear with Cranberries. It was just delicious!

We went to some of the shows. I think my favorite shows were Maria Neglia, a violin virtuosa, the crew talent show and the guest talent show. I even got some ideas for next year's variety show at work!

Mom and I played trivia on occasion. I played Wii bowling. We walked around the walking track. 

I climbed the rock wall. All right, I'll be honest. I only made it two-thirds of the way up. I was doing good until the guy on the rope told me to start going sideways. I was thinking, "No, I must head up. My destination is up, not sideways." And then my hands and feet slipped. If I'd been on a real rock wall, I would have died.

I went ice skating, too. I'd never been skating before, and I made it all the way around the rink without falling down. And then I turned in the skates.

Most afternoons Mom and I napped. I high recommend a trans-Atlantic cruise as a method of travel. It's very relaxing. If you can only cruise one direction, then I would suggest taking the cruise on your way home.

Even some birds preferred to make the crossing by ship rather than air!

14 May 2009

Home Again

Back from vacation and back to work. I managed to get through all my emails, practice for a summer reading program and go to a meeting. All without falling asleep!

I've still got to go through all the pictures (I took nearly 800). I'll post those later.