Friday, June 3, 2016

One Deck Below KNOTTY

The title comes as an inspiration of the nautical items aboard the ship, whatever insinuation may have been inferred by the reader  ;-)   Deck 6, the Knotty deck as I call it, has two big frames of the various types of knots used by sailors. Deck 5, where my cabin is, has nothing interesting other than a room, called the Stuyvesant room, that is a meeting place for workout groups, gamers, and various other assorted gatherings.

You can see the knot showcases on each side.

This has been my home the last two weeks. Because the Prinsendam is so small compared with many other cruise ships, climbing the stairs to the Lido on Deck 11 to eat lunch or dinner was not nearly as intimidating. Usually, I'd be coming from Deck A or B and going all the way to Deck 11 or 12. So I've successfully been getting a fair workout on the "stair master" climbing up and down and down and up and back up and down. Most things are only three decks away and there are only two elevators near forward and two aft so it doesn't take imagination to know it's ALWAYS worth it to take the stairs.

This photo is of the main atrium staircase. It's supposed to be turned once to the left and it is in my files but couldn't get it on the blog that way so you'll just have to bend your neck or your screen or just enjoy the picture as a work of art on it's own the way it is :)

A nice piece of ship artwork.

Upward panorama of the glass sculpture in the atrium.

Statue in the spa.

View of the lido pool dining area with one of my favorite activities in the very back, the ping pong table :)

Beautiful flower arrangement in the atrium from formal night.

The Ocean Bar where Cliff was working hard away at Trivia with Cruise Director Linda.

Playing with my camera settings on the flowers in the hallway leading to the Crow's Nest.

So far there have been 9 sea days. I've spent a lot of time climbing stairs (haha), playing ping pong (since there are no teenagers or younger on the ship the ping pong table is mine for the taking!), watching Downton Abbey, practicing violin, and working on my computer. My days haven't been as full or active as I might like but it's also been good to try and relax. Most days there is one or nothing on the schedule of activities that I'm interested in attending, so my day revolves around whatever I feel like doing at the time. Can't complain really :)

My favorite place of all~out on the open deck with nothing but water in sight!

Dining at the Pinnacle. Cliff making a face.....

My favorite dining room item~escargot~was all I wanted that night with a glass of port and some classical music. Delicious!!

This Towel Octopus joined us for the whole cruise!

Settling in to the cabin by getting comfy on the couch.

The first stop the ship made was in Bermuda, a playground for the very rich. I had much work to do online, and the cost and speed of ship internet makes it difficult to do all I needed to do so I took off to find a breakfast spot. I found a lovely little French restaurant called Bouchee, that kindly allowed me to sit for a couple of hours after I ate my breakfast, just working online and drinking coffee. After I packed up my bags, instead of walking to the next cafe straight away, I decided to walk away from town and a little ways around the island. It's not that big of an island so I wasn't worried about getting too far away from the ship. I saw some cute houses and some magnificent estates. I wandered into a little grocery store and found some seaweed snacks to replenish my supply so I was a happy girl! I then turned back toward town and walked the few downtown blocks before sitting back down in a Japanese bar for the last couple hours of internet. It was a beautiful day and the sail away was amazing! I didn't get picture of the unbelievable houses that lined the hills and beaches as we wove our way back out to the open ocean, but it was amazing to see.

Looking out at Hamilton from the ship.

Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity

A view over looking a small yacht harbor.

House of Assembly

The second stop was in the Azores, on the island of Faial in the city of Horta. Cliff and I rented a car to drive around the entire island. First we drove up the center toward the caldera the island is most famous for. Unfortunately, it was so foggy that you couldn't see a thing. It was also freezing cold and extremely windy so we headed back down the road to drive the highway along the perimeter. It was a beautiful drive. The island was very clean and tidy. And I was amazed at how cheap it was, considering the cost to import things to the middle of the ocean. The prices were US compared and better. It was very windy however. It reminded me a bit of the Falkland Islands without the penguins and crazy trees. Faial, instead, had sand storms along the beaches. We stopped at the Capelinhos, a new volcanic outcropping along the southwest edge of the island. The sand was so fine and the wind so strong the sunglasses and hats and even your hand couldn't shield your eyes. Cliff had to guide me to the museum like a blind person because the sand aggravated my contacts so bad. Once inside we purchased tickets to ascend a lighthouse. From there, it was still as windy, but the sand wasn't thick so I was able to see where I was and take some pictures!

Overlooking Horta from the ship.

Traditional Portuguese sidewalk tile art. Almost every sidewalk was different. Love it!

The Municipal Building.

A "shell" shot up the spiral staircase at the lighthouse at the Capelinhos

A panoramic view of the Capelinhos.

I liked the stairs :)

After we returned the car, which was a manual, so I had quite the experience being chauffeur that day!, we walked into the downtown area and picked up some souvenirs and enjoyed the sights at a slower pace. Other than the foggy caldera, the island was a wonderful and it was a beautifully spent day.

Me with my temperamental manual.

Our next port of call, after another three sea days, was Portland England. I toured England a decade ago with a small choir and chamber ensemble. We performed in cathedrals all around England and we got to go to Stonehenge and Avebury. So, after so many days at sea without fast and "free" internet, the day was spent mostly sitting at a computer in true crew fashion instead of wandering around the city. Having lots of work to do that was put off because of high satellite costs on the ship, I worked for several hours and barely got the necessary tasks completed before the shop, Roger's Coffee Shop, closed and I proceeded to wander the small town of Weymouth on my own. The cruise ship shuttled us to Weymouth because the port where we docked was not allowed to be walked around in without proper authority. There was a lovely beach in Weymouth where I took off my Vibrams and walked around digging my toes into the sand. After a short respite at the beach watching the sun set, it was time to wander back through the streets toward the bridge leading back to the ship. There was a music festival that day so even though most stores were closed the town was alive and everyone was at the canal with vendors lining the streets and bands blaring for all to hear.

A point of view video of the crowded Sunday streets in Weymouth for the music festival.

Panorama of the canal.

Sand sculptures

Had to try the sand for myself :)

This is why I had to try the sand. Honestly, the sand was so fine it was almost painful to walk barefoot as it didn't squish between your toes. Instead it molded and formed awkward lumps.

View from the end of the boardwalk down the beach. The rides for the kids and teens are all just behind and beside me.

Now the ports are everyday so the next morning it was off to France, Cherbourg, that is. It's the first time I'd been in France other than the airport. Can't say I was impressed in any way. The town was dirty and shabby as opposed to quaint and clean. I spent over four hours walking nearly every street in the town up and down and around through neighborhoods, school districts, industrial parks, and shopping areas. Almost everything was closed so I didn't stop to eat. The people were pleasant though and when I stopped for a drink it seemed I amused the shop owner more than annoyed him so that was positive! It might have helped that even though I can't speak French, I tried in English, Spanish, Korean and thanked him in Japanese for good measure with a big smile :-)

After walking for many hours with no water, this tasted amazing!!!

Hey, look what I found in France. It was actually open and crowded. Go figure.

Theater square.

Park bench along the water front where I sat and studied for a bit.

The next day was supposed to be my long awaited excursion to Rouen. It was the only excursion I really wanted to do and the only one I booked the minute I got aboard the ship. Well, as my brother Murphy would have it, the tour was cancelled due to an "economic blockade". The tour offered in exchange was of no interest to me. Turned out that was beyond wet and foggy and miserable. I'm betting half the ship never disembarked. It was poring rain at a slant because of the wind and I watched those braving it with umbrellas inside out and every which way trying combat it.

The next day wasn't much brighter, but Cliff and I had an excursion to Bruge. I dressed up nice and warm and was glad I did even though I still got cold. We took a bus ride into Bruge of about half and hour and then walked around the quaint town for a little while with a guide before boarding a short canal cruise. After that we split from the group and ascended the belfry for a better view of the city. Even with the fog is was a nice view. Then it was almost time to meet back up for the return trip so we grabbed a quick Belgium waffle (I honestly didn't like it because it was too sweet even without syrup for me) and I purchased a couple dark chocolate bars to replenish my empty stash! Then it was back to the ship to eat dinner, pack and do last minute good byes. I was ready to leave this time. I'd made some friends but without any work to do nor workable and free wifi to plan for Europe, it was time to disembark and get on with the next part of my journey.

Ducks and swans near one of the canal bridges. The fowl had no fear of the boats.

A small look at the semi foggy town of Bruge and the main city square.

Enjoying more pictures of spiral staircases. This one is plank wood and led up to the Belfry where the last picture was taken.

Obligatory Belgium waffle.

The last night from Zeebrugge (Bruge) into IJmuiden (Amsterdam) was bumpy and loud and caused difficulty sleeping even with earplugs inside my over ear headphones. So, a late night start and then Cliff had an early start so minimal sleep and a super long day ended in the inability to stay awake on the bus ride into Amsterdam and the beginning of the tour I was on. Very disappointed but I was dilerious I was so tired. Then when we finished the canal part of the tour, I got off the bus and went to the Central Station instead of continuing on the the airport. I thought I was saving myself, but I was still so exhausted I ended up falling asleep around the station and that was not looked kindly upon. I tried buying tea to stay awake but then you just have to pay to pee and I'm dragging around all my luggage. It certainly wasn't the best timing overall. But I finally (after hours of slogging around the station) found a place with working outlets and wifi and tea so I could work on my laptop since my phone was almost dead.

I don't know if I would call this a house boat...maybe more like an open air living room/ dining room raft?

A view down many canal bridges. If the photo is big you can make out around 5 bridges. 

That's one version of a white picket fence.

A ha!!  I found my sailing vessel :-)
Now I'm in the Netherlands and will write more of my adventurous travels later. Enjoying making new friends and exploring new cities, new foods and life in general!


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