Tuesday, January 29, 2019

a bit of cruise withdrawal

I did 10 minutes on the treadmill, which isn’t anything to crow about, but it was 10 minutes more than yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, and on and on. It was enough to get me moving a bit more and energized me to take down some more Christmas decorations. I’ve left the little trees with their lights up though - they’ll stay out until March as they are a nice bit of winter green.

Before we left I thought I’d dig out ALL my Christmas decorations (4 or is it 6 bins worth) and discard/send to thrift store what I no longer use. I seriously don’t have the energy or the inclination for that now, but will make a point of it next year when it all comes out again. I’ll put some Christmas music on and brew some hot chocolate and it will seem like fun and not a dreaded chore for which I am uninspired to do now.

The maelstrom of snow never arrived, at least not at the force that was predicted. We got a few cm of snow which could have stayed in the laneway, but not at the end by the road. Carm got out there with the snowblower to do the road, and didn’t stop until the whole laneway was done, so now we are ready for the next snowfall. The bitter cold has left for a bit now too - from -24C yesterday to -11C today.

Hot water with lemon and honey (with Brandy for bedtime some nights) has been nourishing me for a few weeks now. It is a soothing habit that may last the winter - a hot drink at bedtime sets the stage for a long sleep. And long they have been - I’m still sleeping like crazy - Carm says I’m still catching up, but gosh, it has been over a week now, how much catch up is needed? Maybe a night for a night? In which case I have several more long nights to go.

It is slightly weird sitting here with just the sound of a snoring dog. From frenetic activity on the ship to hermit like quiet at home - surely somewhere in the middle is good! It was nice walking down 2 flights of stairs and ending up in a hubbub of activity with people and music and motion. There was always a seat somewhere to sit and watch people pass by, and to have a refreshing soda water or hot soy latte, depending on the time of day and what I felt like at the moment. There is no stepping out the house here… not even if it was summer… we’d always have to drive, sometimes far, to find a place like that. But if the weather was better and the roads not so snowy I’d invite some people for supper! I’m sure I could whip up a warming soup in the instant pot! Any takers? Jo Ellen and Don, do you feel like braving the winter?

And there is quite a different sort of conversation around a fire than there is in the shadow of a beech tree.... Four dry logs have in them all the circumstance necessary to a conversation of four or five hours, with chestnuts on the plate and a jug of wine between the legs. Yes, let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.
~Pietro Aretino, translated from Italian

Monday, January 28, 2019


A deceitful bright sun accompanied us for most of the day - oh yes, it was cheery and its welcoming rays lured us outside. BAM! -24C air slapped us in the face. But I just pulled up my hood and walked with the dogs up and down the laneway a few times. On protected parts of the skin the sun felt warm and enlivening.

The field is out of bounds for us, at least until I drag out the snowshoes, which I haven’t been healthy enough for yet. Deep snow blankets every square inch, including the path to its gate. I am reminded of Vince’s visit a few years ago when he dragged me out for a tramp. I don’t think the dogs will be accompanying me when I do get out the snowshoes - it is far to deep for them, and they don’t have the will that they used to have.

Aside from a few walks to the gate, I had not left the house since our return from the South. Oh no. I just couldn’t bear it (and I was flat on my back on the sofa). Today it was time to get myself going. The roads were reasonable and the sun shone so we belted ourselves into the Subaru and headed to liquidation.

I found a few things, and Carm got himself ANOTHER pair of shorts. He is ever the optimist that our summers are going to be so long that he actually wears some out. He seriously has 3 pairs of the same shorts… not to mention countless others. Carm is to shorts like I am to t-shirts, although I have somewhat gotten over that obsession… unless it’s got some merino wool in it, then I’m in like flint.

A few years ago Costco had some merino t-shirts so I picked up a black one. Well, that thing wears so well, and washes like a dream. I can wash it in the sink on a cruise and it is dry the next day. I check everytime I’m in Costco or liquidation for them to have the short-sleeved ones again but I’ve never had any luck. I do have some long-sleeves which are lovely for winter.

We are battening down for a big storm tonight - 10 to 20 cm of snow is on its way. I’m so glad that we are home for these last few storms so Pat doesn’t have to deal with the mess.

Trudie & Leo were by last night and we had a good visit of comparing our holidays. They were at an all-inclusive resort at the same time we were cruising. There were many similarities, including Leo getting sick part way through… so maybe it isn’t just me!

He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.... In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.
~John Burroughs

Sunday, January 27, 2019

wailing wind

A wail from outside woke me up this morning… the wind whipped snow against the house, shaking creaking groans from its skeleton, the sound a ghostly scream. I peeked out the window to see a white gauze swirling around, obscuring any details farther than a few feet away. Snow was falling, no, not falling, but was being ripped from the clouds by the vicious wind. I was happy to be snug as a bug in a rug in our home, and thought of the generator standing by in case of power outage.

It was already 10am… another late sleep-in helping me recover from the cold and the trip and all the excitement of being away. My eyes were still bleary though - I needed a coffee.

It’s day 12 (or maybe 13) of my cold and it is finally loosening its hold somewhat. I’m still coughing a bit, and the kleenex box keeps getting lighter… but I’m up and puttering around in a semi-functional way. The misery is starting to leave my memory and I’m looking forward to our next cruise, already booked and paid for. It will be the test though - another cold and I’m pretty sure we will find some other way to vacation.

Trudie & Leo are coming for supper (not too far to drive on the wicked roads) so I got busy and set the table with our new tablecloth from Puerto Vallerta.

Kabira has been getting up in the middle of the night every time she’s had kibble for supper. Either she isn’t drinking enough water and gets thirsty, or she drinks too much and has to pee, or maybe it doesn’t agree with her. On one of the nights with meat she had to go out 4 or 5 times with an obvious gut ache. We have to find a solution, but I don’t know what it will be. Maybe meat, with a bit of vaseline to help the bone pass through, or meat & kibble, or I don’t know what. Suggestions are welcomed.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Cartegena and the end

Cartegena, Columbia

This was a beautiful city. The fortress was imposing, the downtown towering, and the Colonial city gorgeous with pastal walls and colourful vines. Cobblestone streets led to a pretty square. Vendors were everywhere (it was a bit much).

Last formal night and kicking around the ship

In the Wheelhouse.

The ship has a lovely promenade deck that wraps the whole way around. Good for walking (Carm did lots of laps, me, not so much - I tended to grab a drink and sit on a lounge chair to relax which is probably why I gained 3lbs).

And back home: yuck!

In fact, Carm is out shovelling the back deck (all the snow blowing was done yesterday and the day before), while I sit in comfort sipping hot lemon & honey water and revisit the bubble we were in for the last 2 weeks. Maybe comfort isn’t quite the right word as I do feel stodgy from my cold still.

It’s funny, but I’m sure I had more photos to include for some of the days, but maybe I didn’t download them all from my camera. I do want to remember to take more of life on the ship, and maybe include a few food shots as the meals are so nicely presented. I wish I would have gotten someone to take photos of Carm and I on some of the other formal nights - he looked so handsome in his suit!

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
~Terry Pratchett


Panama City… an unlikely skyline. I certainly wasn’t expecting a modern city with buildings scraping the sky.

The Panama Canal

I didn’t get any fantastic photos here - it was perhaps the worst day of my cold and I could barely drag myself out of bed. I stumbled to the top of the ship at daybreak to see us pass under the first bridge, crashed on a deck chair until we started to get close to the first locks. Couldn’t see much from that vantage point so headed down to our room and the balcony. I got a good view of some things (the mules were interesting)... and then once we were in one lock fell onto the bed and into a deep (but interrupted by coughing) sleep. I woke up on and off, watching the world pass by my open window, and lurching out to the balcony to see a bit more. It really was a rip off, but I did the best I could.

Carm was out all day, hither and thither, finding new and interesting places to watch from, occasionally stopping in our room to make sure I was still alive.

I’d say we’d have to do it again, but I am wondering if cruising life is for me. Don’t get me wrong - I love the actual cruise, but getting sick sucks (she said still coughing up phlegm).

Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and formal night

Sitting on the balcony on a sea day. Hundreds of birds circled the ship, soaring on the air currents stirred up by our passage. I kept my  eyes peeled and even saw a sea turtle pass by. Some people saw dolphins, but I wasn’t as lucky.

Some dancers in Nicaragua

The two volcanoes can be seen across the water, also in Nicaragua. Ooops… wrong photo. This one is across Lake Nicaragua - Carm is using his phone to take photos - he was a photo taking demon (I should ask how many he took!)

Costa Rica

Coffee plantation

Ox Cart factory. The paintings reminded me of some Norse handicrafts.

Carm was supposed to take a photo of the cart with me at the edge, not in the middle!

Formal Night

Unfortunately the lighting was dim so the photos didn’t turn out very well. Andy and Edna were originally from Scotland so Andy wore his dress ‘trows’ (not sure of the exact spelling), which are plaid will trousers. They both looked dashing!

The photos were taken in the ‘hall’ outside of the Wheelhouse, our venue of choice for the evening. In the past we’ve always spent some time in our rooms at night, but not this trip! It may have been that the drinks package made it easier to have a glass of wine out and about (or in my case on many nights: several soda waters), or it might have been the comfortable environ with comfy sofas and chairs, (gotta get me a few of those chairs for home!), or it might have been the wonderful band that played every night, or maybe all of the above, combined with Andy & Edna’s company.

Huatulco photos

I’m finally getting to the task of uploading vacation photos to my blog. I tried on the ship, but for an unknown (at the time) reason my app wouldn’t post them. I thought it was internet bandwidth on the ship, but I got the same result at home. So I dragged out my wablet to try using Open Writer… still no go. At least I got a better error message and was able to track down that Google has changed something in their Blogger API so it was always a case of ‘you can’t get there from here’ :-(

I’m back to composing in Google Docs and then cutting and pasting into the Blogger web page app (not the android app - that doesn’t work at all). Always hoops to jump through.

So I’ll start with some photos of Huatulco where we enjoyed a day at the beach. I was excited to bring my waterproof camera to get some shots.

As you can see we had a gorgeous day!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

test post using docs first

test blog post using google docs to format and then paste into blogger window.

this text is after the photo.

test post using blogger

other apps won't let me post photos. Will this work? Am I going to be forced to use this stupid interface?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

home sweet (but cold) home

We arrived home last night at about 8:45 after a long day on the road/air/airport waiting lounge. We had left the ship at 7:30am so it was a long day of travel. I had saved my best cold medicine for the trip home but only had enough to use it strategically for maximum decongestion in the air. My plans worked out and I didn't blow up my sinuses!

Our last two days of living in the bubble were sea days. I took full advantage of the lower activity level and slept for much of the days. Carm would let me sleep in and head off to breakfast on his own, bringing me mine in the room. I'd go back to sleep for a bit and then would eventually shower to tame my bed head. I'd drag myself down to the public areas for a bit of shopping and a cranberry with soda at Crooners. Maybe two cranwaters.

I'd have a nap in the afternoon while Carm went to trivia, an enrichment lecture, and a swim. In otherwords, I missed out! I still managed to get dressed for supper and converse with strangers, an activity that is exhausting at the best of times. On our last dinner we sat with the man who was the Port expert. He had lots of stories to tell, but he seemed a bit sad and perhaps lonely in this sea of people.

Slowly I've been getting things back in order... the suitcases are unpacked leaving a huge piles of laundry on the floor. I've left the things that we'll need for our next trip in the bags, no point in trying to find a place for them just to haul them out again in 2 and a bit months.

I haven't taken care of the photos yet, that requires more energy than I have at this exact minute.

No breakfast in bed for me this morning :-( No buffet of choices for lunch, and I guess I'll have to figure out something to make for supper tonight. And the evening at the Wheelhouse visiting and dancing is nowhere in reach.

Did I mention that it was -21C driving home last night?

The dogs were only moderately excited when we got home - they obviously felt right at home with Pat. Pat was gone when we got home, but she had left the Christmas tree lights on and some other little lights around the livingroom - it was welcoming. Thanks Pat! We feel blessed to have someone so caring taking care of our beasts.

We loved the Coral Princess! We'd only been on the biggest ships and weren't sure how we'd like this smaller one but found ourselves in love with many aspects of her. First of course is the large Wheelhouse lounge with band and dance floor. We were there every night - the band knew our names and gave hugs on the last night.

The staff in the lounge also grew to know us and often had our favorite drink in hand when we walked in. I kept them guessing though as by the end of the cruise (when my cold was at its worst) I usually just had soda water with cranberry. One night when my cough started getting worse the bartender went down to the coffee place (International Cafe) to get me a hot water with honey and lemon. Carm got me another one and the bartender at the International Cafe recommended adding a dash of brandy to help me sleep - it worked.

Stephanie, the assistant Cruise Director, spent some time with us there everynight. Her energy and enthusasim was boundless. We looked forward to her visits. Skylar, another cd staff also visited - he was just 21 and seemed so young.

The buffet was okay but not nearly as good as the one on the Regal and Royal - it was perhaps 1/4 the size with fraction of the options of the bigger ships.

I missed the piazza on the bigger ships.

Whenever I felt like sitting somewhere I could always find a seat - it is hard to believe that there were 1800 passengers onboard.

The drinks package was wasted on us (especially me - Carm made more use of it!). It was included as part of a promotion but we'd never buy it. It was nice thouggh not having to think about how much each drink cost and if it was in our budget. I drank countless soda waters, and while regular water would have been okay, it was nicer to have sparkly. We also had a glass or two of proseco with supper every night - an indulgent treat that we would have passed on if paying by the glass. We'll look for a similar promotion in the future ;-)

I'm sure I haven't finished with my random thoughts, but this will do for today.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cartagena Columbia

Yesterday was our last port day before our two day sail back to Fort Lauderdale/reality. We'll be stepping out of the bubble at 7:25am Monday morning.

Cartagena was a lovely city with a surprising skyline. Skyscrapers soared into the sky in an impressive display of concrete. Our tour skirted the area as it took us to an imposing stone fort. I hadn't had much sleep the night before - between coughing all night and worrying about our lost excursion tickets the night was short... but the fort... was built with a steep road of slippery stones leading to the top where we entered a maze of dark tunnels (I thought of you Jo Ellen - you would not have been happy!).

My weary body made the journey - I couldn't wimp out as there were many more infirm that me :-0  It was worth the climb as the views were lovely.

After the fort we drove to the Colonial City which was criss-crossed with charming narrow lanes lined with colourful houses. Bouginvelia (sorry about the spelling) climbed many balconies, their pink flowers bright against the pale pastel walls. We went into a few museums and a couple of churches, all very interesting, although I did wait outside the lecture about torture (I wasn't alone).

It was a beautiful city, slightly blighted by the myriad of persistant street vendors. There were times that I felt overwhelmed by the onslaught, but I understand the poverty so tried not to let it bother me.

It was a lovely way to spend the morning, but I will admit to feeling a bit glad when the bus (air-conditioned) turned towards the ship. A cool shower and a long nap finished the afternoon.

We had our usual early supper (oh what to wear - I'm rapidly growing out of my clothes which are starting to make me feel like a overstuffed sausage - I have no idea how I will fit into my dress tonight for the final formal!). I'm glad I took the time last fall to plan out my clothes in my silly little app - I have what I need and don't have to think too hard about my choices. Also, at the last minute I threw in my wide slinky pants and am so glad that I did! My 'skinny' dress pants don't look so skinny anymore!

The show last night was a comedian - Carm hardly stopped laughing the whole time, and the guy beside me let out a few loud guffaws. We were sitting with Andy & Edna who barely made a peep or maybe I just didn't hear them over Carm's hilarity.

Of course, after the show we went our seperate ways and Carm and I went to the Wheelhouse while A&E went for supper. We held our 2nd favorite table so they met up with us later. The band was fantastic as always. My long afternoon nap let me stay up long enough to outlast the entertainment.

Today is a blessed sea day... we slept in, actually I really slept in... Carm brought breakfast and coffee back to the room for me and then my head hit the pillow again for another few hours. I finally dragged myself out of bed to get into the shower to tame my wild bedhead and to take a short walk around while Hedy did up our room.

I napped some more.

We went for lunch and a latte.

And here I am, almost 3pm and thinking that I might make it through the rest of the day without more sleep. I'm still coughing like crazy (this morning I coughed so hard I threw up TMI). Tonight we are joining up with Andy, Edna, Brian, Ninna, and another Canadian couple that we don't know, for a late supper. All dressed up!

I'm getting a bit homesick and won't be sad to be home in a few days.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Panama City

I'm sitting on the dock of the bay... no, I'm sitting on my balcony going through the Panama Canal! It is sunny and hot, and I can barely see the screen so excuse any typos.

We've already been through the first two (or is it three) that brought us up 85 feet. We've sailed the Gatun lake and are now approaching the final set of locks that will bring us back down to sea level. It has been interesting, but I've got to be honest, I've spent most of it in a fitful sleep. We had a late night and an early morning and another late night and another early morning, plus I've been coughing when I am in bed and my nose is running like a faucet... I'm beat and am seriously considering the wisdom of more crusies... (don't tell Carm). I am so tired that I could cry, or at least pull the covers over my head and disappear for another day or so.

Yesterday we woke up to the sight of a sunrise over Panama City. The skyline was nothing like we expected - a huge city with glowing skyscrapers was not at all what we thought we'd see. It was beautiful in a non-Nature sort of way. We met our excursion group at 7:25 and set off in a tender to land where we'd find our bus.

It was a newish bus with good airconditioning - a good thing as it was already hot at that early hour. The bus drove us around the new city, past impossible skyscrapers with hovels skirting their bases.

We've had lots of conversations about the poor conditions that people live in, but I wonder, perhaps the people are just as happy, or even happier, without our quest for consumer goods. Maybe a simple life is better. Regardless, I'm not going to judge based on my life circumstances, or what I perceive as my good fortune.

After zipping around the new city, the bus took us past the ruins of the old city. Crumbling walls were protected by a big fence, although apparently they do allow weddings there.

On our way again, we pulled into a parking spot near the Colonial city. The guide walked us around narrow cobble streets with even narrower sidewalks past colourful buildings packed together. Some were restored, others were in the process of being restored, and others lay in wait for their transformation. It reminded us of some of the European cities we visited 2 years ago.

As hard as it may sound - I didn't buy one souvineer!

It was a good tour and thankfully wasn't too long so I was able to crash for a few hours before supper. After we ate we went to the theatre to see a juggler - he was okay, but I didn't feel that he was up to the usual Princess standard. A wander around the ship followed by an evening of dancing at the Wheelhouse finished off our evening.

What will we do when we are at home and have no lounge with live music to go to? It is a very different life out here in the open seas.

Carm just got back from the pool which means it is time to get dressed for supper... have a good night everyone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Nicaragua and Costa Rica

My immune system sucks. Sixth cruise and sixth time getting a cold... I'm coughing and wheezing... stuck in our room cause I don't want to make the whole ship sick :-(

But lets go back to San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua which we visited two days ago (Sunday). We took a tour to the colonial city of Granada, about an hour and a half drive from the port. When we got onto the bus we settled in about half way down, a comfortable spot with a large unobstructed window... we started driving and water poured onto my lap... so I raised my hand to notify the tour guide. He had two empty seats at the very front of the bus so we moved and thought we were very lucky to score seats with such a fantastic view...

The bus carriened out of the parking lot and we started to question our good luck. The bus hurtled down the highway, terrifying both Carm and myself. Another guy sat by the door and held it shut. Oh boy. But yes, the view of the beautiful countryside was terrific. Countless horses were tethered by the side of the road, some cows too. It looked like ranching country and it seemed every house had at least one horse.

Thankfully we arrived in Granada in one piece: we were both happy to have solid ground under our feet! The guide gave us a brief tour of a convent that had been turned into a museum, and then we were set free to enjoy the giant square, dotted with tall palm trees, benches, and the inevidable souvineer spot. Oh, and vendors walking around, some not so easy to shake.

We stepped into the church in time to hear a hymn from the Sunday service, and then wandered around the square until we found a shady bench.

Back on the bus and then we hurtled back (1 1/2 hours!) to the ship.

Our evening consisted of supper in the dining room, a show (ventriloquest), and dancing to Blue Jade in the Wheelhouse bar. And then I crashed... hard.

Monday morning we were up bright and early again, this time for a tour to Puntarenas Costa Rica. Our destination was a coffee plantation, 1 1/2 hour drive away again. Oh to spend so much time on the bus! We were in the middle of the bus but had no reason to move, so we settled in for a slightly more relaxed trip.

The country is beautiful with low mountains and wide valleys. Rainforest snugged up against the road, and hairpin turns kept us awake.

The plantation was way up in the hills/mountains in a pretty little town with ramshackle dwellings. Our guide, Jose, was good and gave us a good feeling for how coffee was made and perhaps a new appreciation for our morning brew. We were inspired to bring home a few small bags of the strong brew.

(which reminds me - we are addicted to our lattes now!)

On our way back we stopped at a place that makes painted ox carts. Sarchi was another sleepy town, with sketchy architecture. The painting reminded me of Norwegian folk art painting so I was enchanted and wanted to bring one of the giant carts home with me :-0  Carm talked some good sense into me. There were a few smaller things that I wanted to bring also, but our suitcases will already be packed to the gills.

Another long ride back to the ship - but this time with a bit of internet!

Supper... no show... Wheelhouse... International Cafe... sleep... wake up coughing and never get back to sleep.

Monday, January 14, 2019

on a bus in Costa Rica

end of a tour with 1.5 hours of driving ahead. tomorrow is a sea day so I will write then.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Huatulco Mexico

Update: I have removed all the lovely photos and am trying to post this again as I tried 3 times yesterday and used up over 10 of my precious minutes - it is now Sunday and we are back from an excursion to Granada, Nicaragua, but more about that in another post.

This is from yesterday, Saturday Jan 12th:

I am relaxing on the balcony watching the petrols (?) glide beside the ship... today is a sea day, a time to relax and recharge from the hectic day yesterday. Let's see, we woke up late, had breakfast (of course more eating), then wandered off the boat onto the beach not far from the dock. We had no problem finding some lounge chairs - $10US for 2 chairs, an umbrella, a table, and 2 for $5 beers.

Andy and Edna joined us not long after so we spent a day visiting, swimming, and generally relaxing. The weather was fantastic: a balmy 32C with a light breeze coming off the sea.

By 2pm we'd had enough surf and sand, plus we were getting a tiny bit hungry, so we traipsed back onto the ship, surprisingly tired after the exertion of walking through deep sand.

A quick lunch and then my head hit the pillow and I was asleep in a flash. For a few hours! In fact, when I woke up it was time for supper so we had to quickly get freshened up.

I don't know how I did it, but after supper we managed to take in the show (an amazing magician), and then linger at the Wheelhouse until well past 11pm.

Andy & Edna joined us, as did a charming couple from Ireland - Ninna and Brian. I think we were all tired though - we did get up and dance, but conversation was slow, with long pauses as we listened to the band. Carm asked the singer to do 'Girl from Ipanapa' - she called out to Carm (by name - we've been there too many times!) and played it, her lovely voice doing justice to the song.

I may need another long, long nap today!

It is now noon - I've been writing on and off all morning - and we've been to a lecture on Costa Rica, sat at the coffee place for a double espresso (it didn't help), and lingered at Crooners for a cranberry & soda (refreshing but it didn't perk me up). In a few minutes I'll walk down to the International Cafe for another coffee :-0  and to post my blog. One of the cruise directors said it was the best location for fast internet.

I don't even know what day it is - and continue to float in a bubble. Thankfully Pat sends photos of the pets now and again which keeps my anxiety levels low. A little peek at the poodles makes my day.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Puerta Vallerta

We had a FANTASTIC day on Wednesday with Uncle Graham. He lives in PV for a few months in the winter, right on the malecon (a boardwalk along the ocean). We took a cab from the ship (the 2nd one we got into - the first one doubled the price once we started driving!)

Graham was outside his place waiting for us - a welcome sight indeed. After a coffee and a quick visit with Barb, we walked and walked... up into the older part of the city which is populated with Mexicans. We walked through a flea market which was packed with colourful souvieners and beautiful Mexican fabrics - I got a multihued blue cloth that reminds me of the Pacific ocean.

He walked us along narrow sidewalks with curbs almost knee high and cobblestones to twist an ankle or stub a toe - I was thankful that I had chosen my practical but dorky keens instead of the more fashionable sandals that I brought on our trip.

We deeked into countless shops filled with pottery, jewlery, and other crafts. My eye was drawn to many things, in fact Carm had to practically drag me along or I would have spent all our money. I did settle for a pair of dangly blue earrings that caught my eye, but passed on a gorgeous necklace set in blue opal... $350US was too steep a price to pay!

We walked away from the ocean and up a path that led us past artists and cats lounging in the sun. A banyon tree shaded the street. Throughout our walk bouganvillia coloured the white buildings.

Tired - we had been walking for 2 hours - we plopped down at a table by the beach for a leisurely lunch of fish tacos and margaritas. A guy selling rides on a parasail was just down the beach from us. I'd watch the adventurous client come for a landing on the soft sand.

Some more walking brought us back to Grahams house where we had a few minutes to visit with Barb before we were on our way back to the ship in a local cab. ($10 for the two of us).

We LOVED PV (I won't try to spell it more than once). The people were so friendly and it was a riot of colours and smells. Dogs followed their owners without leashes and looked well cared for, although most were slender and not overfed. We were in a touristy area with vendors plying their wares, but none were persistant and a casual 'nada' would send them on their way. I saw a few things I would have liked to bring home, but I have to try for some restraint! The souvenir gene runs deep in me though and I found it hard to drag my eyes away from some of the treasures!

What made the visit especially special was our tour guide. Graham was a great guide and gave us a true 'bus man's' tour. We loved it!

We got back to the ship sticky and hot... and tired from hours of walking. Carm went to the pool for a cool dip, but I was too tired to even move from the bed. I lay there partially asleep and in some kind of stupor until Carm arrived back. I don't know how I did it, but I got washed up and changed for dinner.

We sat at a table for 8 (I would have preferred 2) but everyone was congenial so it was okay. Carm was wound up like crazy and babbled on and on. The other people seemed to think he was somewhat funny, but man!

After dinner we traipsed over to the Wheelhouse Bar where we watched a violin/cello duet until Andy & Edna joined us for a while before they headed off to dinner. We were due to go to the theatre for a magician, but honestly, once the band came on with the singer with the buttery, mellow voice, we skipped out of the theatre and stayed at the bar.

One of the cruise entertainment directors came and sat with us for a while, I think I mentioned her the other day. And then Andy & Edna were back. We stayed and listened to the band and danced until almost midnight!!!

Ship life is bubblewraped from reality. It seems unreal and I feel like I am floating in a sea of... oh I don't know what. Dinners, theatre, lounge with band... it is so far from a house in the country in the middle of winter.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

sea days

I'm sitting on the balcony, enjoying the view of the endless ocean. Somewhere over the horizon is Mexico. I'm drinking a soy latte. It is the perfect tempreture - not too warm and just slightly cool. I feel pretty relaxed and haven't been stressing about the dogs at all. I know Grace will always be okay. Carm is somewhere in the ship playing Trivia.

Sea days develop a rhythum special to themselves: sleep in; shower; get breakfast (smoked mackeral for me today, salmon yesterday, some scrambled eggs and maybe a slice of french toast, and of course fresh melon); after that we might walk around before getting a latte... that's my day so far.

Yesterday after shopping and walking and resting, we met up with Andy & Edna for lunch in the dining room. After we finished eating we moved to some comfortable seating by a window for another glass of proseco. A short rest in the room followed. We eat supper early so that we can go to the early show, so by 5pm we were dressed and down the stairs to dinner. We sat with people from Utah and Kentucky. We had to find seats in the theatre right after dinner where we enjoyed a great show with much opera.

We met up with Andy & Edna after the show at the Wheelhouse bar, a wonderful venue with a band and people dancing - there is a huge dance floor and Carm and I once again made a pact to brush up on our ballroom dancing steps. We sat there for the rest of the evening, in fact I didn't head upstairs until 10:30, and Carm & Andy shut the place down. We sat with a young 21 year old entertainment director - it was fun getting a younger perspective on life and goals. The other director joined us for a while. She is an outgoing girl from BC. The evening flew by :-)

Mexico has just come into view. There are high jagged hills on the horizon now, slightly obscured by low cloud and haze. I'd try to get a photo but I know it wouldn't turn out right.

We lucked into the drinks package promotion for this trip which we have been taking advantage of. It is spoiling us for the typical cash & carry of our other cruises! Sitting in the lounge with a glass of wine (a decent one too) is a decadent way to spend an evening.

And yes Jo Ellen, I've toasted you with a pina colada!

We weren't sure if we'd like the Coral Princess as she is much smaller than the ships we've been on before. We miss the piazza on the Royal class ships, but this ship has some wonderful lounges and bars. The Wheelhouse lounge is much bigger on this ship, with plenty of comfortable chairs and sofas, and it has a huge wooden dance floor. The decor is slighly over-the-top but charming in its own way. We've not encountered any lineups, except for going to dinner, and we've always found a seat where we want. We love this ship!

It is afternoon now... we've been to an excellent lecture on the Panama Canal and have had a Pub Lunch with Andy and Edna - fish and chips for both Carm and I. Carm has gone to a science lecture and I've wandered around the ship, stopping to people watch. Now I'm back in the cabin and seriously thinking about a nap.

Tonight is the first formal night - suits and fancy dresses for us! We've made plans to meet up with A & E again tonight. I'd better make it to bed earlier though as tomorrow morning we are in Puerto Valarta where we will meet up with my Uncle Graham - excited about that!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sunday - All aboard!

I couldn't face another huge breakfast that left me feeling full all day so we traipsed over to Subway for a breakfast sandwich. I wasn't impressed but it did the trick.

We repacked our rather chaotic suitcases and killed some time on facebook before heading downstairs at 10:45 to catch a shuttle to the cruise port. It was just a quick hop skip and jump and we were walking in the doors. The empty hall was like a cavern, devoid of a crowd so we breezed through the process with barely a wait anywhere. By 11:15 we were in our room, stashing our carryon bags - it was time to explore the Coral.

She is a beautiful ship with many public areas... bars abound... and entertainment areas are everywhere. We found the International Cafe, a good spot for picking up a quick salad or sandwich.

Crooners is not far from the stairs to deck 7 (2 decks below us). The Wheelhouse bar is right at the bottom of the stairs - we stopped in there for a glass of wine before bed. Oh the luxury.

Ok, back to earlier in the day. After we explored we came back to the room to check for our suitcases... mine was there but no sign of the other one. Of course it was lunchtime by then ;-)  so we knocked on Andy & Edna's room to arrange a meet up at the dining room. A sit down lunch with linen tablecloths and napkins is the perfect way to start a vacation... accompanied by a glass of proseco.

We ditzed around for an hour or two until it was time for muster - a safety drill. We went right up to the top deck after that to get sail away drinks and watch us sail out to see - past huge container yards, the USS Iowa, our hotel. Did I mention that it was sunny, but cool. In fact it was downright cold up top.

We had a bit of a rest and then it was time to eat again... we are only 4 days into our vacation and I feel eaten out. Gosh, how could I choke down another bite? Well, it seems that I could, and not just one bite, but a whole prime rib dinner (sans yorkshire pudding). The meat was tender and perfectly cooked.

We sat with two brothers and their wives from California. They had just sold their peach, cherry, etc. farm to a huge conglomerate - like many small farmers they couldn't compete with the mega farms. They were a lovely group and we had so much fun.

The show had already started by the time we pushed away from the table, but lucky for us some people left their seats so we could sneak in. The entertainer was a singer from Montreal.

The evening was still slightly young (8:45), so we stopped into the Wheelhouse to watch the band for a little while.

My head hit the pillow with a bang by the time we got back to our room at 9:15. Whew, I don't know if I can keep up this pace for long!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

it never rained in California

The forecast for today was rain and more rain... but! we were lucky and haven't seen a drop yet. It is 3:30 and we are back at the hotel after a day of sightseeing. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the rain stays away until we are back from supper.

Our day started as it did yesterday: earlyish and with breakfast at the Happy Diner. Today I had Spam & Eggs which was delicious - I even loved the spam! As we were eating the cook handed us two plates of pancakes as he had made too many. Burp... no eating for the rest of the day. My skinny jeans were not making me feel skinny at all, but more like an overstuff sausage. It was worth it though.

Once we were sufficiently sofoncified we grabbed an Uber to the aquarium. An Uber is the way to go - it was reasonably priced and Carm got to be a passenger through all the freeway confusion. Good thing as we are both still slightly wonky from the jet lag.

The aquarium was delightful with several touch-it displays. I handed off my camera to Carm (with instructions to take a photo), and dunked half my arm into the shark tank. I was too excited (and stunned) to realize that I was still wearing my jacket... with long sleeves. And Carm was just too stunned to take the photo. It was a good test of how long it takes that fabric to dry (too long), and to find out just how cold a wet arm could make me (too cold).

After the aquarium we took a free shuttle across the bay to the Queen Mary. She is an old dame slightly tattered at the edges but still showing a glimpse of her old glory. We wandered around the main decks and then headed to the Winston Churchill display, followed by a trip to the engine room.

My tour of the engines was cut short when the smell of diesel oil threatened to make me puke. Memories of trips in my dad's old Cessana plane resurfaced - I earned the nickname 'honky' for a reason...

Once we had see all there was to see we hopped on the shuttle back to the aquarium. I wanted to check out the 'Restoration Hardware' shop that was near, and we figured it would be easier to get the Uber back to the hotel.

It was a quick ride back to the hotel, but we didn't linger. Instead we dashed down the road to pick up some wine for our cruise, and on our way back stopped at a bar for a beer/cider. Holidaying is good fun, but oh my, the calories!

We are being rather repetitive with our forays for meals. Breakfast at the diner, and tonight we'll hit up the Thai place again. The rest of the restaurants in the area are brewery type places with burgers, etc. We can get that at home, but good (great) Thai food is harder to find. I'll even have the same thing :-0, except I'll substitue tofu for the meat... I'm feeling pretty meat saturated these days.

but first a bit of CNN. Yes, even on holiday, I am subjected to endless news programs... lucky me.

I can't sign off without a big thanks to Pat for keeping everything going at home :-)

Friday, January 4, 2019

sunny California

We stumbled into our room at about 11:30pm LA time, which is 2:30am our time. My head may not have even hit the pillow before I was asleep. I haven't been up that late for years!

This morning we putzd around getting ready, our heads foggy from lack of sleep. A check of Google Maps showed a restaurant not far from the hotel that sounded promising for breakfast. The 'Happy Diner' was an excellent choice. I had eggs Benedict with thick slices of bacon and a lovely sauce. Hash browns rounded out the plate. Oh my, it was so delicious, and even more so when I spooned on some of the homemade salsa. The salsa was so good that we finished it with spoons rather than let them wisk it away uneaten. We'll probably go back tomorrow morning, but this time I'll try the eggs with spam!

After breakfast we checked out car rentals - this did not go our way at all... our only option was 1/2 day in a big pickup truck for a huge amount of money. Pass. The idea of driving a big car around in LA traffic with jet lag brain was just not appealing. Next time we'll know to plan earlier.

So, we were limited by what was in walking distance: luckily there were a few attractions. First we hoofed it down the waterfront to see the USS Iowa, a retired battleship. Carm enjoyed the tour much more than I did, but there was still much for me to find interesting.

Another walk down the waterfront brought us to the docks for the harbour tour. This was an excellent boat ride around the harbour, with the seals being the first attraction.

We saw dolphins!!!!

First from a distance, and then they raced the boat, right beside us :-)  No photos, I didn't want to take my eyes off them for even a second. We were both pretty excited.

We walked back to the hotel to fix up Carm's shoes (Jo Ellen - I should have had bandaids in my purse!), then we walked down the road to find a wine place and on our way passed somewhere that had some socks... so far I've forgotten Carm's socks!!! Poor dear had to wear dress shoe socks in his sneakers today and got a nasty blister. I feel awful :-(

We walked around some more then came back to the hotel to rest before supper.

For supper we aimed for a Thai place 2 blocks away. Oh my goodness! It was an awesome rendition of 'Drunken Noodles'. My lips are still mildly burning. It was a huge serving so I brought part of my meal back to the hotel for a snack once I've digested a bit - I didn't want to leave it behind it was that tasty :-)

All in all a great day, but now it is time for a quiet evening. It is after 9pm home time, but only 6pm local time so I'll have to fight off sleep for a few hours - wish me luck!