2011 Transatlantic Cruise
We had planned to wake up at 320am but like that kid in the Disney commercial "we were too excited to sleep." Around 1230 we called it quits and got up. I folded the laundry and we got ready for the day. We had some time to kill so we thought we'd do breakfast at Waffle House. Apparently 3 in the morning isn't "getting up early for breakfast"-time but rather "dragging your butt home to bed after eating a waffle-beer sponge"-time...
We ended up going to Denny's [shudder]. I have never seen so many drunk guys and pant-less women in all my life... We ate in a hurry and got the heck outta Dodge. Next we visited The Parking Spot and took their shuttle to our gate.
We were hoping for an upgrade on American but no luck. I squeezed into a window seat and Robin got crunched in the middle. We landed without a hitch in MIA (so hitchless in fact that I didn't even realize the plane had landed...). All of our bags made it and we hopped on the bus for the Port of Miami.
Boarding took awhile but we were in the Suite Priority line so we actually made it onboard faster than lots of folks who had been in front of us at the airport. We couldn't go to our cabins yet so we made our way to the Windjammer and ate in Chops. Most of the buffet line was pretty standard first day fare but we did find one station that had honey stung chicken in whole form rather than the normal bite-sized cubes. Liberty also has Strawberry Kiwi sugar free "juice". It tasted like Kool Aid but I drank it anyway.
Muster Drill was at 4 o'clock. We had gone to the cabin after lunch and taken a nap so I was grateful for the cruise director's announcement of muster. No life jackets required, just seapass cards that they scan. We had to walk down 6 flights since you can't use the elevator but it was over in about 20 minutes.
All of our luggage came while we were napping earlier so we unpacked and met Sonia, our cabin steward. We told her the plants needed watering and she almost believed me (they were plastic). She said the last guest broke the soap holder in the bathroom but that they were planning on buying one when we got into port. We unpacked our luggage and changed into clean clothes and headed out for free booze. Later in the evening after dinner she had replaced the empty hole with some kind of saucer that sort of fit the soap dish-hey it was better than the box I used originally..
Next came the Concierge Lounge, followed by the Diamond Lounge, followed by the Diamond Event. The bar didn't have any Triple Sec nor Sprite Zero for Robin's Lynchburg Lemonade but Mario, the Concierge, said he'd get some for tomorrow. The CL was pretty crowded even though it was only for D+, Elite, and Suiters. Because there are so many Diamonds on this cruise the DL nightly event was moved to the Sphinx Lounge for the free booze. We tried to get served but couldn't since there were so many people there.
Dinner was at 6PM-early seating. We were at an 8-top next to the Captain's table. Four of the folks were no shows but we met Reah and her mom Nancy. We had a lovely conversation with them and it turns out that Reah works at the Canadian Consulate in Dallas. Lyndon was our waiter, assisted by Victor. My wife Robin had the Vidalia Onion Tart which is now more like a small quiche instead of a tartlet, and the alternate boring grilled chicken for her entrEe. I did a simple Caesar salad and and I had the pork medallions for dinner. Both our dishes were good but certainly nothing to write home about and we left before dessert, leaving our tablemates to fend for themselves. We went back to the DL and managed to get a way-too-strong LL. We sat with a lovely German couple who only wanted a couple of glasses of wine and had the worst luck getting served.
I'm on vacation so I didn't pay much attention to the days of the week but apparently we're in Nassau tomorrow so that means ATLANTIS! We had planned to go to the welcome aboard show to meet the CD Gordon but putzed out and just got our stuff ready for Sunday since we had a full morning planned.
Nassau, The Bahamas.
We went to bed sometime around 9-930 range, having been up since 2AM the day before. We slept with the balcony open (and before all you haters start flaming me, we adjusted the thermostat so we weren't air conditioning the entire Atlantic.
Robin had said that she wanted to get up at 6AM everyday to go walking. I managed to convince her to hold off till 7... and then I woke up at 330 anyway. I puttered around the cabin for a bit then went out on the balcony to blog a bit more around 5 o'clock while watching the stars, listening to the waves, and feeling the ocean breezes blow away all the cares in the world.
We went walking up on deck to see the sunrise. I did a bit over a mile in 31 minutes. Jessie Owens ran that far in 4 minutes-yikes!
We had breakfast in the Windjammer (ate in Chops). They do the egg station by # so it was a bit weird. I opted for scrambled eggs with bacon, toast, and spuds (with HP of course).
At 10 we headed out for The Blue Lagoon which for some reason I thought was supposed to be Atlantis. We walked along the pier and boarded a two-level party boat which took us to the Blue Lagoon. After a brief instructional chat we donned life vests and headed to a platform. We saw our dolphins swimming under our feet. The trainers came by and introduced themselves to us and had us hop in the water. We spun around waving our hands above the water while the dolphins did the same. The trainers joked that they just did that to amuse themselves. The rest of the interaction proceeded in much the same way with the dolphins doing fun things and the trainers cracking corny jokes. I was a lovely afternoon. The grand finale of the tour was the dolphin push. You are face down in the water, lock your knees, and the dolphins come up from behind and propel you through the water. Robin had a great run and I did just fine too. Unbeknowst to me, one of the dolphins scraped Robin with his dorsal fin at the end of her run and cut her pretty badly. She was bleeding after the swim and we went for medical help. They taped her up and took a report and then we went off to struggle with the photo people. Considering they do this every day it seems pretty odd to me that in the three times we've been to this place something screwy has happened with pictures each time. We got everything straightened out and headed back for the boat with pics and DVD in hand. The boat took us back to the ship where we cleaned up, rebandaged Robin's cut, and headed to the lounge.
We managed to find a seat and tried to get a drink but Mario failed to come through-no triple sec tonight. We schlepped back to the Diamond Event and tried to get a drink from the bartender. He said "no" too so we grabbed an officer and explained the situation to her. One of her Juniors overheard our discussion and took care of it for us and got Robin a drink. We sat with a lovely Belgian lady and her husband who now live in Spain.
Dinner was a so-so menu. The other folks were still no shows. Robin didn't like anything on the menu so she got pasta with butter and garlic. I had beef stroganoff which doesn't actually taste anything like it was supposed to. We had sugar free ice cream for dessert and came up to the cabin to get gambling money. Robin had found a $10 when we were in line to come aboard. She parlayed that into $25 and then played on another machine where she bumped it up to over $50. I did badly at roulette and quit when I was $5 ahead.
We skipped the singer and played shuffle board instead. It was a bit windy and a guy was smoking a cigar nearby so we took off once Robin beat me by 8 points.
The Meet & Mingle was supposed to be tomorrow but we haven't received any tags yet. Sonia is looking into it but can't get confirmation from anyone.
Day at Sea
We set a wake-up call for 7AM but were both awake by 6, having gone to bed relatively early. We got our walkin' clothes on and headed up for deck 12. It was pretty windy as we walked Eastward but when we rounded the bow and headed back the other direction, the wind really made itself known. I knew this would never do so I cut through a short cut behind the movie screen to catch up with Robin. We headed down to the gym one deck below. I haven't been in a modern gym for years so it took me a few minutes to figure everything out. We walked on a treadmill, ironically watching "Flushed" which is a story about a mouse stuck in a cage with a treadmill who desires to get out into the real world and learn what it's all about. I walked a mile and did a few reps with a weight machine. There were a lot of old people in the gym. Old people who looked like they could snap me like a twig without giving it a second thought...
We decided to do breakfast in the main dinning room this morning which happened to also be the Dreamworks Breakfast. We arrived to a big line of people since the dining room opened late. We managed to get seated at a 2-top but they no longer have the private area for diamond members. There seems to be a lot of trainees aboard this go-'round and we certainly got stuck with one. It took us over a hour to get served! One of the station heads came over and apologized for the wait and then said it was because we did a special order.
We headed down to sickbay to see Dr. McCoy for Robin's dolphin injury. Then raced up to deck 8 for the internet cafe, then back to the room for wireless which didn't work due to the lack of IP Addresses. Robin did discover that the M&M was at 10AM in The Sphinx and that our names weren't on the list. They let us in but they had cancelled the gift exchange. We got the little writey kits but didn't win any of the door prizes. Afterwards we checked email on the RC machines and that worked fine, although we spent $9 for just a couple of minutes. I stopped off for coffee in the CL and ran into Maria from Mississauga. She and her husband live in Malaga and have another home in Nassau. She was trying to get logged on her IBM Thinkpad and wasn't having any luck either. She chastised me for not letting Robin buy shoes in Barcelonia.
We had planned on doing trivia at 2PM but took a nap instead. Room service came by in the afternoon with cheese and crackers - a good thing too since we had really fallen asleep. We got dressed for dinner since it was the first formal night. Robin looked gorgeous in her purple gown and I was in my suit with one of the new ties Robin purchased for the trip. We went to the CL expecting the worst but Mario finally was able to get some triple sec for Robin's LL so she was happy. It was pretty crowded but we chatted with a couple from Houston and another couple from Scotland.
We went down to dinner-the other folks didn't show again. Nancy had made a little bag at arts and crafts and made one for Robin. She's always needing little pouches for her watch or phone or glasses so it'll come in handy. Victor took our pictures as did the ships photographer. Robin had chicken again and I had the duck. I always get the duck-not because I like duck but rather the potato croquettes that are served with it. I got a double order and did ok right till the last bite when I dropped marinated red cabbage on my white shirt-that stuff doesn't come out. We headed back up to the CL and sat with a morose German guy who didn't want anyone to know he was from Germany and another Scottish couple who were at late seating. He has a friend who works for IBM Scotland so I said I'd look him up when I got home.
We skipped "In the Air" and changed into bathing suits instead. The cantilevered whirpool is just above our cabin so we went up there and were surprised that the solarium and whirlpool were deserted. I floated around on my back and Robin squirted me with water. It was a heavenly way to end the evening.
Day at Sea
Robin booked an acupuncture treatment at the spa (eww) but I managed to convince her to opt for a hot stone massage instead. We got up at 6 to go walking. We headed straight for the gym rather than the deck. I did my mile at a slightly faster pace and then did some weights. Robin did about a mile more than me. We got ready for the day.
Robin headed for the spa and I to the dining room. Not wanting to repeat yesterday's hour-long wait for breakfast I opted for the buffet. I had intended to sit by myself but they put me at a big table. Two other couples were there from Romania and they thought it was funny when I told them my grandmother was from Bucharest that we all ended up sitting together. One of the older ladies had been a ping pong champ in her younger years but somehow had never received the entry to the finals. She suspected her first husband of tossing her letter of entry thereby sabotaging her chances. Who says breakfast isn't filled with intrigue and international mystery? She was going to give the sports deck a try-I told her they only had one ping pong ball up there and that if she shot it over the side she'd have to dive in after it.
Gordon's coffee chat was next. I got there a bit early and read up on the NEXT CRUISE options while I waited for Robin to finish her massage. Apparently she got a bit more of a sales pitch than a massage and wasn't too happy, especially since it was almost $200. Gordon came by and told some funny stories about the various ports he's been to over the years. Two seasoned cruisers with Ship Shape gear dominated a lot of the conversation but they were nice folks so it wasn't too bad. We took off a few minutes early to make it to the next venue on time. I walked us in the wrong direction but eventually found the napkin folding class in the Schooner Bar. I was messing around while they were getting ready so the instructor made me get up and teach everyone how to fold "the candle." Nine cruises and it is the only fold I can remember... We made "the rose," "the pyramid," and some weird trapezoid thing that ended up looking a bit like a crown. Coffee in the DL was next, followed by lunch in Chops.
Robin checked in with our pet sitter and the cats are all doing fine. I decided to forgo the baggo tournament and do the ice show at 3 instead. Because we're in a suite we didn't have to stand in line for tickets. On Voyager they handed out tickets in the CL but apparently on Liberty CL folks can just show up to any of the four ice shows and get in the reserved seats. Robin is on a bit of a winning streak so she went down to gamble while I stayed in the cabin to blog about staying in the cabin...
I headed down to pick up my wife who was busy separating the casino from their money. We went down to the ice show early to get a good seat and there was already a huge line. We waited till they opened the doors and we headed for our reserved seats. They turned out to be way on the sides so we opted for front row center. The show was called "Encore" and had a Broadway Revue type style to it. All the skaters were great, particularly the men.
We got out of the show and waited for the crowds to thin a bit before heading up to get changed for dinner. The shirt I was originally planning on wearing was missing a button so I sewed on a new one but we only had the emergency sewing kit so the button didn't really match. I wore the white shirt I spilled indelible red cabbage on and the stain was miraculously gone. Some folks who were in the same boat as us at dinner joined us (their table-mates were no shows too). Robin opted for plain pasta with butter and garlic while I chose ravioli in a seafood sauce. Robin wasn't feeling too well after her third LL of the evening so she went back to the cabin. I went down to the theater to save us seats in the hopes she'd wake up and decide to join me. Gordon opened the show with a rousing rendition of "Tonight" from West Side Story. Elliot Finkel was the evening's entertainer. He is a passionate piano player from Brooklyn, NY. It turns out his dad is Fivish Finkel who was on Boston Public with Jeri Ryan. Mr. Finkel was a bit older than his picture and no stranger to cruise ship entertaining but he could certainly tickle the ivories and got a standing ovation at the end of his show.
I came back to the cabin after the show and Robin was sound asleep. I got changed for bed and snuck out onto the balcony to finish the day's blog. All-in-all a fun day. Robin was a bit down all day-I think from the lackluster massage therapist who seemed to cast a pall over her whole mood. Well tomorrow is another day!
Day at Sea
I decided after the rough day Robin had yesterday that I wouldn't schedule a wake up call and just see where the morning took us. Well apparently my dear wife was well rested because she got up at 4AM. She went to Cafe Promenade and oddly enough there was no one there at 4 o'clock in the freaking morning! She was nice enough to bring me coffee but I wasn't nice enough to actually wake up for it. She went up to the gym around 6:15 and I languished for another half hour or so. I dragged my butt outta bed, had a banana for the potassium, and went up to join my wife who had already done a mile by the time I got there. Chicken run was playing on my treadmill and I watched it while wearing my iPod.
We went up to the DL just to see what was there and then down to breakfast in the main dining room. Shrek and Puss were already there entertaining the kiddoes. I decided on the buffet and made some well-done English muffins for us. Robin had ordered a simple cheese omelet and it took about ½ an hour for it to arrive. In my opinion, the breakfast service in the dining room has really gone downhill. It might make more sense for us to just order room service.
I tried and tried and tried to log on to the internet. No luck. I turned the computer around and Robin announced, "I'm on!" She has the magic touch I guess. That's why I love her so! We were supposed to go to the lecture on Spain but didn't really make it. Napkin folding was an hour later so we decided to go to the Advanced Class. We showed up a few minutes early and sat at our customary place at the piano. The snooty cruise staff guy running the whole thing showed up, chastised Andrea for only having a couple of books then wagged his finger at me and told me to move. WHATEVAH! He didn't teach well and the napkin folds were a bit trickier. We decided to leave early and grabbed a couple of books on our way to Wii. Apparently on Wii is really popular. On Voyager they had about 2 or 3 people show up. There must have been 25 or 30 people in On the Air which is where they had Wii Bowling set up. We headed back up to the cabin and were going to nap before Bingo. 2:30 came and went but Bingo didn't really start till 3. By 3:25 we didn't have a prayer so we snoozed some more. I finally woke up around 4:50, just in time to make it to the CL for drinks. We didn't snack tonight so we had room for dinner. We sat with a couple from Orlando who cruise all the time but I don't think they've ever had a day of fun in their lives. We left early just to get away from them. I'm a generally grumpy person but this guy was making me look like a saint. "Oh you'll get murdered by gypsies in Pisa, and pickpocketed in Spain, and all the stores in the Caribbean are garbage." Dude-chill out, you're on vacation!
Dinner was another "meh" night. Robin had Caesar salad and then chicken from the alternate menu again. I had a yummy creamy chicken soup and then lamp chops with ratatoullie. We headed for the casino and the non smoking table was open. I always seem to have better luck with Romanian dealers. She was fun and engaging and I won $50, including my match play certificate and one of the $20 bets I made. So far I'm only down $30 on roulette so tonight bolstered my spirits. Robin, of course, won her roulette match play and then won keychain on the free pull (I tried to be the keychain on 35 black but the dealer wouldn't let me-she didn't have enough keychains if we won...). And if all that wasn't enough, she won another $15 on slots. She's ahead around $30 or $40 dollars so far.
We went to the theater early to get a good seat. On the way I ran into Elliot Finkel from the night before. I told him Jeri had sent me the pic of her with his dad and that I did her website for her while she was on Star Trek. He apparently knew her well and we chatted about Jeri and Elliot's dad and then about his show the night before. I gotta say, he was a very charming guy and I wish him all the success in the world. Bob Arno was the entertainment for the evening. He is a professional legal pickpocket. He just went through the audience and stole about 10 watches from the audience. He did a few more fun stunts then showed a film about real pickpockets and how to spot them. He does a lot of work with the Las Vegas police department and just filmed a show for National Geographic. He was very funny and engaging and frankly the hour was up before I realized it.
We went browsing in the jewelry shops and stopped in Sorrento's but nothing looked great so we just went to the CL for coffee then to the cabin to plan for tomorrow. Robin decided she was going to give us a day off from walking (yeah!) and that we'd do room service. Normally they don't bring the suite breakfast until after 8AM and we asked for it at 7:30 so weren't not sure if we're going to get it on time or not. I said we needed to get up early and be ready but she wants t be decadent and be in jammies and the comfy robe they gave us and eat on the balcony.
We put our order out on our door and watched my favorite episode of Castle on DVD. It's the one where he shows up in the beginning in his Mal Reynolds costume from Firefly. "Dad, didn't you where that like five years ago?" his daughter says. "It's time to move on..." Classic!
Hey we're still at sea...
Room Service called at 7:30. Guess what? We were still sound asleep, having stayed up well-past midnight the night before. We tossed some water on our faces and made ourselves presentable. The RS guy showed up about 5 minutes later and set out our tray. Robin's omelet was huge and my eggs were still hot. Very yummy.
Today we're taking things easy. Hot Tubbing is in our plans I think...
10AM was the T-Shirt sale but there wasn't anything too exciting so we didn't get any of them. There was a $70 hoodie Robin liked at 50% off but they didn't have her size. Having been treated badly at Napkin 301 we opted to skip the Advanced Class and played Shuffleboard instead. Robin beat me of course. We also went to the helipad and I did my best Leo DiCaprio "King of the World" pose at the apex of the bow.
We had a late lunch in the WJ, missed Wii Bowling, the Black Light Show, and Shrek pics. Still, we had a lovely, restful day. We downloaded the flip videos as well as all of Robin's pics so far, and I did screen caps from the dolphin video.
We changed for dinner and got to the CL early to get a seat. We met a couple of gals who were staying in the Presidental Family Suite-it sleeps 14 but there were only 4 of them-I asked if they'd adopt us for the week... They had only gotten up at 1PM that day "Did we miss breakfast," one of the ladies asked... I wish my first cruise could have been a transatlantic in the PFS. We went to dinner and I had a lovely breaded turkey dish with extra potato croquettes. I was so stuffed that I had no room for dessert.
We went to the casino and I was up $20 and then lost that in the slots. I had broken even so I tried my hand at roulette again and lost $50. Robin didn't do well either. Not our night for gambling... We got into our suits and went into the hot tub overlooking our cabin.
The disco dance party was going on so we couldn't go for snacks so we just opted for coffee from the CL which was pitch black except for the light coming in the frosted windows from outside and the glow of the coffee machine.
7 days at sea makes one week...
Totally planned to get up early and go walking... Yeah, that's the story, that's what I'm telling the cops... Okay so there are no cops in this story, just Sonia trying to get our room clean and us not getting up till 9. Robin went to shower and didn't feel like going up for breakfast so I grabbed a quick bacon and egg breakfast and went down to the CL for an English muffin and coffee for Robin. When I got back to the cabin she was in her robe on the balcony blogging. I also brought some fruit back and she scowled at me but you need your vitamins right?
We missed the Malaga lecture (Are you sensing a pattern here? We really did intend to do all this wonderful stuff but sometimes you just have to take some time off for yourself and relax). We're hoping to get to the 11:15 towel folding demonstration which is being held in the ice rink and hosted by the Cruise Director-are these magic towels I wonder? We watched the end of the ballroom dancing class-they were doing the Tango to "Goldfinger." Gordon showed up with eight or so room attendants with big bags of towels. They folded elephants and dogs and monkeys. One lady even showed Gordon how to make road kill (just bunch it up and throw it on the floor).
We tried to do a coupon for the internet but the guest services person kept telling us different things and several computers were down. We gave up and went to lunch. After eating turkey and salad we headed around the ship with cameras in tow. We took tons of silly pics and video'd the flowrider show. We tried the internet again but gave up.
Dinner was really yummy for a change. I didn't actually get the lamb shank because they were serving scallop risotto. I'm not really a creamy rice kind of guy but they do it right on RC. I had 3 orders and skipped dessert. We had a long day so we retired to the cabin early. Room Service came by with a chocolate tray for us on the house. Robin woke up around midnight and blogged for a couple of hours then it was my turn to be awake. I tried quietly tidying up since the cabin crawl is in a few hours.
Past the Halfway Mark
After a weird night of wakefulness and dogged tiredness we got up with the wake up call at 6:15. I straightened up some more of my junk, showered and got ready for the morning. We vacated early to let Sonia clean the room. She found a soap dish and swapped out the cream saucer we had been using.
We went up to the WJ for breakfast. The guy who did my eggs didn't have a clue how to cook eggs and they were pretty bad. Robin didn't have much luck with him either. The Chops staff wasn't in yet so I had to get my own coffee (the horror!). Apparently the side I went up was closed and the section manager chased me down-she was trying to be polite but just came across snarky. We ate alone and a waiter finally showed up. He was nice and chatted with us for a bit. We went up to the computer room since neither one of us could get the cabin internet to work. Apparently we had a bunch of minutes left (even though it said $1.50 credit remaining yesterday). We then went down to the library to read Goodnight Moon in Spanish-there's no way to make "mush" appealing in any language. We grabbed another coffee in the CL and headed back to the cabin. Mario and the room service guy showed up at 9:45 with some cookies, a cheese tray, and some canapEs. The Crawlers showed up shortly after 10 and seemed to really like our room. This year they split the crawl into two groups so everything wasn't so crowded. The second group showed up a few minutes later and everyone seemed to really like the room. Some folks asked if we could rent out the bathroom for $5 a bath...
We watched Toy Story 3 on TV and ate some of the leftover cookies and grapes. We headed down to Guest Relations to hand in our departure slips so we could get to the airport in time when we finally dock in Barcelona. Robin perused the Promenade for a gift for Brittany for watching the cats while we're gone. They were having a $20 sale but nothing caught her eye (especially since they were all marked $99.99). I had some pizza and played roulette a bit and then we came back to the cabin to put away my losing's from the casino. We didn't have a time change today and the weather was lovely so I blogged on the balcony for a bit. We had decided not to go to the CL for pre-dinner drinks so that gave us plenty of time to relax and get dressed at a leisurely pace, so leisurely in fact that we were ready 40 minutes before dinner. We popped into the lounge and had a quick R&C for me and a Sprite Zero for Robin. Our tablemates were holding their own with the downer couple we'd been stuck with a few days earlier. They looked like they were doing very well but at dinner they revealed they had had as bad a time as we did. Dinner was lobster tail and shrimp and Lyndon brought me two so I was very happy.
I won back some of my money at the casino later on and then we headed down to the ice rink to watch The Quest. This adult scavenger hunt is always well attended so we got there early with coffee in hand. The Presidential Suite gals were there, all decked out in their blingy attire. One lady had a beautiful red dress on that had a golden snake holding her dress together in the back. During the later portion of the game they ask for a guy with two bras and it can't be from a bag. They lady in my row who was in a form fitting dress already started to take hers off but our team captain already found a pair. It's crazy the things some folks will do for a keychain... We headed back upstairs and marked up the compass and set out our room service request for breakfast.
and it can't be from a bag. They lady in my row who was in a form fitting dress already started to take hers off but our team captain already found a pair. It's crazy the things some folks will do for a keychain... We headed back upstairs and marked up the compass and set out our room service request for breakfast.
Still at Sea
I rolled over in bed and saw a blinky light on the phone which meant that I had slept the whole night for a change. Mario leaves his "beautiful people" message between 7 and 7:25-sure enough it was 7:24 when I looked at my watch. Room Service would not be far behind. In the past when we'd ordered room service it'd take 45 minutes or so and always be late. We discovered however that suite guests tend to get served at the exact time they request. Even though our breakfast had a range of 7:30-8AM, the phone rang at 7:30 to say it was on the way. I pulled on my trunks (they were dry and handy) and Robin dashed into the bathroom. The guy showed up about 2 seconds later as I was pulling up my trunks (no one wants to see the moon in the daytime) and I let him in. We ate a leisurely breakfast and then Mario called again to let us know the Bridge Tour would be tomorrow in Tenerife. I went out onto the balcony to blog and there were some low-hanging clouds that looked as if I could reach over the balcony and touch them. At sea, everything looks different. Even though these were run of the mill nimbus clouds you could see over and around them with sunlight above since the ocean is so vast and you can see for miles.
We got ready for the day and browsed the shops and got a nice little necklace for Brittany. We went to the Sodoku Challenge and some guy did it in 8 minutes - he won a hat. Robin finished and got them all right. I did about two rows and threw in the towel. Robin played slots for a bit before lunch then it was off to Michelangelo for our Welcome Back lunch. We had potato soup in a teeny tiny little cup and some beef tenderloin. A couple of officers sat with us because we were all by ourselves. This was their first transatlantic cruise and they were looking forward to spending a couple of hours ashore after so many sea days. I went to the casino after lunch since the tables hadn't been open earlier in the day. I won $35 and quit while I was ahead. I am only down $52 now and hope to bring that total up by day 14.
We opted out of the olive oil lecture and the guest talent show but did go up to the deck to see dodge ball. Folks were getting out pretty quickly so the games only lasted 2 or 3 minutes. Robin had left her RC Hoodie up on deck 14 so we went back (on deck 13) and had a guy toss it over the rail. He was worried it would blow away since it was pretty windy. Turns out he was right-it went blowing away and even though I was only a foot away from him I couldn't catch the shirt. Robin however is much better at such things and caught her shirt. We went down to the Arts & Crafts and made paper mini wallets and completely useless flower thingies that were a prelude to Tuesday's class. We decided to skip the ice show, trivia, Mamma Mia (outside), and fact or crap and opted for relaxing for an hour till booze-thirty. Mario needs waivers for us to tour the galley so we filled those out and brought them to the CL.
Dinner was lovely although all four of us were plowed from drinks in the CL. I had veal oso buco which fell off the bone. Tomorrow we're doing a bridge tour at 6 so we won't be at dinner. Robin decided to skip the magician but I really wanted to go see him so I went. His tagline was the "wit & wizardry" but he wasn't very funny nor were his tricks very good. He did some card tricks and linking rings and cut & restored newspaper. I was pretty bored and decided not to stay for Love & Marriage. Robin was up when I returned so we watched Castle.
Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Robin woke up early and was creeping about trying to be quiet so naturally the noise woke me up. I joined her on the balcony and watched the Canary Islands come into view. It was still dark out but the city was blinking like a Christmas tree from the harbor all the way up into the mountains. Tenerife is a compact city with everything radiating out from the port. We ate early and headed down to Studio B which was a departure point for Loro Parque. The place was packed since it was also the departure point for over 25 other tours as well. Things went pretty swiftly with people coming and going all through the morning. We were bus 16 but there were actually only two morning tours to the park so when we got there the place never felt very crowded, even with the local school field trips.
A German businessman started Loro Parque as a parrot refuge in the 90's. There are over 4,000 species of parrots there. Over the years, the park has expanded to include tigers, gorillas, penguins, lemurs, as well as dolphins, orcas, and sea lions. Our tour guide Andy told us we had two options for visiting the park. We could follow him and he'd take us to three shows-the dolphins, the "sea 'awks," and then finally the sea lions or we could just wander around on our own and meet up with the bus in the afternoon. We decided to be safe and stick with him. We made good time passing by many parrots cages so he was able to get us into an extra show-the parrot show. We had thought it kind of strange on the bus that we were going to "Parrot Park" and we weren't going to see any parrots so we were glad he was able to fit the extra show in. The doors were closed and music started playing. A tiny hatch opened in the wall and a white parrot flew out and soared over our heads. Two green parrots came out next and flew all around the room. Eventually there were a half a dozen birds swooping and diving in formation, just inches from our heads, the breeze from their wing beats rustling our hair. The birds did some cute tricks like driving a car, doing math, and getting drunk on beer they bought from a vending machine. The finale had a bunch of smaller birds come out, flying with their larger cousins while Nessun Dorma played in the background. We shuffled out and walked over to the dolphinarium. On the way, we passed Tiger Island. A magician donated a rare white tiger and its mate when they got too old to be in his show any longer. The island was beautiful and well maintained but it really was too small for such a large animal. The male was pacing a great deal and his mate seemed to follow him to calm him down. We entered the dolphin arena and it was already half full. We grabbed some seats on the side and the place quickly filled up. There were about 10 Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins in the act. They came out and swam around the huge tank. The trainers entered and the show got underway. They flipped and waved and danced, much as we had seen in Nassau up close and personal. The trainer dove in and surfed on one of the dolphins. They did foot pushes vertically out of the water, while another jumped over him. We were really impressed with how well attuned the dolphins were to their trainers. At one point they put a little kid into a boat and one of the dolphins towed him around the tank, while a half dozen did spectacular leaps behind him-the kid had no clue what was happening but the audience loved it. The dolphins did a few more tricks then the show was over and we shuffled out. The dolphins were allowed to swim around as we exited and they seemed curious about all the humans as we shuffled past them.
The "sea 'awk" show was next. We had no clue what Andy was talking about. It turns out that he was saying Sea Orcs-meaning Orcas or Killer Whales in English. The upper seats were packed so we sat off to the side near the front. We soon found out why with so many people there we were able to get such good seats. We were in the "splash zone!" This wasn't just a "teeny tiny drop might hit you" area but rather "dude yer gonna get soaked!" Robin bought a 3 € poncho-she says it was the best 3€ she ever spent in her life. The show starts with a large video screen doing standard safety rules but then the guy says in Spanish with English subtitles, "We are using video to record this. If you are here with someone you shouldn't be then please leave" It was all done in fun but I thought that was a weird joke at the beginning of a show. They filmed the audience and put up funny word balloons on the screen. They zoomed in on this old guy and said "I'm lost." Throughout the presentation they kept going back to this same guy and picking on him-it got to be pretty funny after awhile. They did a kiss cam and Robin and I saw ourselves down in the corner at one point. The Ocras finally came out and glided through the water. They did leaps and jumps and got fed lots of fish. The trainers did a great job of playing to the middle and the sides of the huge area. The whales did a fluke splash about ten feet from us and we got drenched. Robin was laughing as I spit cold salty sea water out of my mouth and slicked back my hair. The audience roared with laughter as our whole section got splashed over and over.
After some more leaps and inspirational videos of the first captive birth at the park it was time for us to drip out of the arena. Robin and I both tried to dry off a bit using the bathroom hand dryers but we weren't very successful. We decided to venture out on our own for a bit, rather than go to the sea lion show. We went to the penguin habitat, which had a slide-way so you could just stand in place and you were conveyed all along the exhibit. What a great way to alleviate congestion and keep the crowds moving along. We got to see them above and below the water. At the exit there was a huge cylinder of fish-it looked over crowded to me-and all I could think was that these guys were probably lunch for the Orcas and dolphins. The gift shop had these tiny penguin-shaped cutouts in the Plexiglas wall that kids could slide down. I wanted to go but Robin's wisdom prevailed so as not to get my butt stuck in a penguin. We went to the aquarium next. The tanks were filled with rays, and sharks, and sea turtles. They had a domed walkway with sharks swimming overhead. It was a really fascinating way to look at these majestic creatures of the deep. We were feeling a bit peckish, not realizing how appropriate that word was. As we made our way to the food area there were these two huge heron-looking birds just standing by the side of the stairs, up on an elevated grassy area. They let us get very close so I put out a hand to pet one. They didn't seem to mind so I turned around so Robin could get a picture of me with the birds. He started to tug at my hair and then pecked my head HARD! We left the birds to their own devices and found a really neat little pizza place. They made Spanish style pizza-all from scratch. For 15€ we got two pizzas and a Pepsi Light - the US could really learn a thing or two about park concessions from these guys - the food was great and the atmosphere was relaxed. We had really good timing too. The sea lion show that we skipped was right next door and 1,000 people swarmed the little pizzeria when the show let out. We wandered around a bit more and headed for the front. Our parrot pic was there and it was only 6€ so we went for it and got the thing. We went back to where the picture was taken and played with the birds a bit. Robin took some sneaky pics until the girls told her not to take any. We went out and found a bench to sit on to wait for the bus. We drove back to the ship-a little girl would not shut up! She had been yacky on the way to the park but even worse on the way home. I really wanted to yell at her but just went to my "happy place" and made the best of it.
We were scheduled for a Bridge Tour right at dinner time. We went up with our group. It was a bit odd since the bridge was roped off and we could only view from a distance. It was pretty fascinating watching them take the ship out-they made it seem so simple. The Captain came over and chatted with us a bit. He said the hardest thing about his job was holding the ship's court and having to kick crew members off the ship. He's been around awhile and has seen everything from man overboard to Force 4 hurricanes. We got to take our picture with him and then left for dinner since we were 40 minutes late by that point. Lynford and Victor took care of us. We had cannelloni and pork medallions and split our entrees with each other. Dessert was chocolate banana strudel and I also have butter almond ice cream. We skipped the violin virtuoso in the theater and opted to gamble some more. I won $15 and am only $17 down-my goal is to break even slowly. We were both done pretty quickly so had time to hot tub. The wind was so cold and strong that it was more like "warm tub" but we still enjoyed ourselves. There were two other couples there. One was about our age who were behaving themselves and an older couple who just seemed to be bouncing up and down on each other without a care in the world. It's great that they were still in love after 152 years of marriage but people-get a cabin! We headed back for the cabin and were going to go to Sorrento's for a snack but opted for room service instead. I got a steak sandwich and was expecting a Philly Cheesesteak but got a whole steak on a bun-for FREE! Man I love cruising! We watched Castle while munching our freshly baked cookies and turned in around 11PM.
Final day at Sea
After all our walking yesterday we decided not to have a wake up call. I woke up around 8 and went out onto the balcony to write when I discovered that I hadn't even finished the 10th yet. I did that write-up and then proceeded to figure out the parrot park adventures. Robin got up about an hour later and I ran down to the CL to get coffee. "Get Coffee" is my code for muffins, Danish, fresh fruit, toast, jam, and anything else I can manage to carry back to the room-and oh yeah, coffee too. A few days ago I saw a guy getting coffee with a thermal carafe. I thought the guy was pretty smart to bring it on board and then I realized that it is the room service carafe. Since we had coffee the night before, I just washed it out and took it with me. I brought back a bunch of stuff and we noshed while wiping the cobwebs from our eyes. We decided that we didn't really need breakfast after all the stuff I brought so we just sat and talked and drank coffee. Robin had checked her email and my computer downloaded all my email for me. We logged off and I read my mail offline. Apparently there was a big storm in Dallas with power outages, blown over trees, lost dogs, and houses falling on old ladies. We got ready for the day and had a voice mail from Mario to let us know there was a food display at 11 on the Promenade. I guess it was a good thing I didn't have a big breakfast today...
We went up to the Promenade while they were setting up. They had some interesting dishes I hadn't seen on cruise ships before-things like meat pies (next to the English pub of course), and pecan pie squares. Robin wanted to gamble so we went down to the casino. It was before noon so the tables weren't open yet. I watched her play for a bit and got bored. She tends to win big then put it all back into the machine. She switched machines so I headed out to the bar to hang out. I read the Bolero's menu (which is now renamed "Mario's" in honor of Super Mario). I guess I fell asleep because when I opened my eyes Robin was sitting across from me. We had originally planned to go to the buffet but neither one of us felt like fighting the crowds for food then for a seat. Instead, we headed up for the pool deck to see if there were any Wishes at Sea shirts left. We did a lap of the pool deck but alas, the sale was over. The sun worshipers were all out in all shapes and sizes and levels of crispness. We went to lunch in the WJ and sat in Chops. The tables were open now so I headed in to gamble while Robin went up to the cabin to get more money. I sat next to a nervous looking guy who was betting $25 chips on the two-to-one row. He was picking "bottom third" only and lost about $75 in 30 seconds. He sighed and pulled out another chip-a black $100 one and put it on the square again with the remaining $100 he had in play while I bet $10 each on column 1 and 2 (that's my oh crap bet I make when I've just lost the previous hand). The dealer spun the ball and we held our breath. It hit and I won $20 and he got $400. I asked if he wanted to switch chips... He said, "It's my cardio for the day!" He played some smaller 50-50 bets with $5 chips for a couple of minutes while the small-fry played two or three corners. I was up to my $100 bank with two more chips on the table. I cashed in the $100 for a black chip and put it away and hoped to play for awhile on the two remaining $5 chips on the table. I won the first spin but lost the second so all I walked out with was $5. The guy who had been playing the big bets was in front of me at the cashier's and had ended up with $900 by the time he stopped. I'm not sure how much he started with but I don't think it was much more than $200. I found a quarter on the floor by the quarter pusher machine so all-in-all I'm up to $11.74 down for the cruise (if you can follow that logic). I'm planning on playing conservatively for the rest of the cruise so as to come home with more money than I started with. We still have $10 credit left on our account but I'm sure we'll find a picture we want or something similar and that'll be gone by the end of the week. I walked through the smokey rows of slot machines looking for Robin but couldn't find her so I headed back up to the cabin. Apparently she had been doing the same thing and found me blogging on the balcony.
We attended arts & crafts with Janet and made origami picture frames. We also did a big version of the flower we had made earlier in the week. While Robin was working on that I ran up to the cabin to get the little versions to glue in the middle of the big ones. Robin made two of them in purple and orange and added a pin-back to them so we could wear them (for formal night some folks joked). It was 4 o'clock by the time we were finished so we dashed back to the cabin to change for the final formal night. Robin looked lovely in a black and white dress embellished with purple flowers. My tie had flecks of purple in it so we matched. We sat with the Scottish folks in the CL and had a few strong drinks, some chicken wings, and I ate two coconut macaroons. We've been joking that "Fred's Tropical Supply Co." must have had a sale in Miami-there's been coconut and pineapple in everything. Dinner was lovely. Robin tried the Asian Noodles which was a vegetarian dish so I shared my southern fried chicken with her. We took lots of pictures at dinner with multiple cameras and then Robin and I did some formal pics with the ship's photographer. We dashed up to the cabin for our third set of clothes today and went down to see Jonathan Kane's show. He's an Elton John imitator and he does a fantastic job. You really feel like you were at Elton's show-minus the $100 ticket. He did Crocodile Rock at the end and we got up on stage and danced. After the show people kept coming up to us and saying, "You guys were great!" We headed back to the cabin to get jammies on and plan out our day for tomorrow in Spain.
Cadiz, Spain (near Seville)
I woke up early and peeked out over the ocean. A few blinky lights on the horizon from sea going vessels told me we were nearing land. The fog and mist dissipated as we got closer and closer to mainland Spain. Looking at a world map, Cadiz looks like a tiny little bump on the south end of Spain but when you get here you can see why the ancient Phoenicians were so enamored of the area. Rocky islets jut out from the shoreline, creating a natural harbor. Ancient stone fortresses mix Spanish, Moorish, and modern architecture and technology into a functional beacon to this ancient city that has been inhabited for for over 3,100 years and claims to be the oldest city in Europe. Columbus was pretty smart to start two of his journeys here. The well equipped port was just as efficient in the 1490's as it is today. We passed stone minarets and rock solid battlements as we slowly pulled into the narrow harbor. This was a rich trading city in the 15th century and its rich architecture and many churches reflect the opulence that gold and silver pouring in from the New World provided. I wondered if we were viewed as modern equivalents of treasure from the Americas with our fat wallets and shiny VISA cards. The pilot guided us in alongside another cruise ship while multiple smaller vessels darted about in the harbor.
The boat docked on time and we were quickly cleared. We walked into town and I found 5¢ (getting closer to breaking even). We walked past statues and monuments, government buildings, churches, tapas bars, bakeries, guys with dogs, and girls in very short skirts. Cadiz is a lively city and totally opposite of what we experienced in France several years ago. The shops and locals are very welcoming and friendly. We rested on the sea wall for a bit and continued on. We found a shop that sold plaster cats that were made to look carved-it was only 11€ so we got that. Apparently Cadiz also has Bruhas or witches for everything - good luck, job success, safety, love - you name it, there's a witch for it. We continued on and saw tons of parked cars inches from one another, all there bumpers horribly mangled. We decided we'd gone far enough and crossed the street near an ancient tree and discovered that we had walked clear across the peninsula. We were at the beach at the far end of town that earlier in the day we had joked, "if we get to the beach we've gone too far." It was a long hike back to the ship and I wanted to take a cab but Robin wanted to walk. We mapped out a route and I screwed it up at the first intersection and got us lost. We stumbled up the central market with fresh fruit, poulterers, butcher shops, cheese merchants, and wonderful smells everywhere. Outside the market were vendors with trinkets for tourists, watches, wallets, flowers, and lotto tickets. Robin and I got recognized for our Elton John dance performance several times. We debated stopping for paella or baked goods but since we were so close to the ship we opted for lunch in the WJ.
Because we were in port so long the ship was pretty empty. We grabbed a quick bite and changed into our bathing suits and went up to the whirlpool to soak our aching legs. The pool deck was pretty full of very leathery looking people-I just don't get sun worshipers... We went up to the reserved deck and sat out for a bit. I got a yogurt cone and ate it in the pool while Robin napped in the sun. We headed back to the cabin around 3 and collapsed on the bed. Our balcony door was open so we heard various announcements on ship and off as we drifted in and out of sleep. Robin woke up at one point and I opened an eye to see what was happening. She was intently looking at the clock on the phone trying to convert military time to 12-hour and announced, "Hey! We're late for dinner-it's eight to six!" I dashed up and changed out of my bathing suit, which I still had on and we ran down to dinner. Our tablemates were already there and we quickly ordered. After dinner we went to the shore excursion desk and booked a couple of tours since there was no way we were doing all that walking again. Then if was off to the photo lab to get a couple of shots with our free coupons - we do clean up well as Robin likes to say.
We headed back up to the cabin to put the pictures away and Robin looked out on the balcony and said, "Hey they moved us!" The pier was gone-then we realized that the ship was moving and it was time to head back out into the ocean before going through the Straits of Gibraltar and on to Malaga in the morning. The ship pulled out slowly and we headed away from the coast as the sun set slowly ahead of us.
Later, we returned to the casino. Robin was out of gambling money so she watched me play for a bit. I got pretty lucky and was on a winning streak. I was $30 up for the day which put me at $28.28 up for the cruise. I may leave it at that and not bet anything else. There was a "midnight" buffet scheduled for 10:45 PM. We went up on deck and saw bowls and lids flying away in the heavy winds. It was a bit chilly so we dashed down to the cabin to get warmer clothes. We headed back up on the pool deck and took pictures of the wonderful fruit carvings. Folks were placing bets on when the pineapple towers were going to blow over. By 11PM the sternos were still not lit and the cruise director's staff and the band had given up on dancing and playing. The DJ turned up the music volume to drown out the wind. At that point we figured it wasn't going to happen. Even if they decided to move it inside it was obvious the midnight buffet may actually take till midnight to get set up. Robin and I headed off for Sorrento's for a pizza snack and then headed to the cabin to pack some of the stuff we weren't going to need for the remainder of the cruise.
Malaga, Spain (aka "Hola!")
I woke up to the blinking light of Mario's "Good Morning beautiful people" message and was surprise to see city lights out on the balcony. On a cruise you tend to lose track of time so I was surprised to see city light outside our window at 7AM-I thought we were getting in at 10AM which of course makes no sense since we had a 9:15 tour. I went out onto the balcony and saw another cruise ship called "Marina." I didn't recognize the logo but it was pretty close to our size and the balcony doors shimmered iridescently in the morning light. The vessel appeared to be leaving and was trying to do a 180° turn but after a few minutes I realized it was just rotating the ship in the narrow harbor entrance to dock at an angled dock adjacent to us. It was almost 7:30 by this time, which meant folks would be going ashore shortly so I decided to get ready for the day, hoping my rustling about would wake Robin gently. We went down to the main dinning room for breakfast and were served by a wonderful girl from TDad'Tobago. A lovely contrast to the surly waiters we'd had the day before. After breakfast we headed to Studio B to wait for our bus to be called. We were #22 and apparently 1 thru 20 had already left and the place was almost deserted. It was only a couple of minutes and we were off. As we got to the gangway Robin realized that she didn't have her Seapass card. Tolga said he'd hold the bus for us as we dashed up 10 floors to search our cabin. Robin found her card in the pocket of a pair of jeans in the laundry which she had used the night before for the non-existent midnight buffet at 10:45ish. We Seapass in hand, we ventured off the ship and onto the bus for Malaga. We passed through the city, taking pictures, as our guide pointed out features from history, botany, architecture, and modern day city life. We drove up the mountains to an old Moorish fort - Gibalfaro. It was once an old lighthouse and garrison for troops over the centuries.
Following a short visit, we drove back down the mountain. We saw several churches and government buildings and drove past Picasso's house. We also learned that Antonio Bandaras is from Malaga - You learn something new everyday - I always thought he was from Mexico. We disembarked by the cathedral (which has been under construction for over 300 years and is still not finished). Our guide walked us through a lovely pedestrian mall that had been built by 19th century gentry to enjoy on Sundays. Over the years it has become a fashionable shopping promenade and the only straight street in the entire city. Every Easter there is a huge processional with floats weighing up to 5 tons, carried aloft on the shoulders of 300 men. These local Brotherhoods vie for places in the parade and are somewhat akin to fraternal organizations like the Masons or Lion's Club in America. There's even one all-female Brotherhood and they often outdo the men in the parade. We stopped at Mariano's and had a glass of wine and some peppers and onions. I thought we were done but then they brought out a lovely little dish of paella. Then it was on to the second taverna for more wine and little sausage sandwiches with paprika and Russian salad which was somewhat like coleslaw with tuna. We walked a few blocks to the third place, which served us potato chips followed by wine, and then ham sandwiches with tomato puree.
We made a big circle to come in front of the cathedral which is flanked by a Cheers Tavern on Norm's Street. We did a bit of shopping and popped into a bakery then it was time to head back to the bus. We petted a few of the horses who were waiting to take folks on carriage rides. We took the short bus ride back to the port authority and quickly cleared the agents there. Another bus took us the last mile to the ship and we were some of the last folks to get onboard. We headed up to the cabin and dumped off our goodies and drank copious amounts of water. The ship soon departed Malaga and we were once again on the open sea. I watched the pilot boat help us out and Robin got a picture of the pilot hopping off our ship. We downloaded some pics and blogged and then Robin brought me some "American Tapas" - Fruit Loops in the lid to our glasses...
Next it was time for our galley tour at 4 o'clock. We arrived a few minutes early and chatted with some New Yawkahs about the demise of Park West. The chefs came out and took several Germans on an exclusive tour while the English speakers went with that anative English speaker, Ivan from Chile... He showed us each of the stations and told us how they prepare 5000 meals over three times a day. The kitchens are hosed down four times a day including the ceilings. We passed the dessert area and there were multiple trays of cookies but alas, Ivan offered us none. Robin recorded the whole thing on video and we showed it to some folks in the CL before dinner. Tonight's menu was the best by far. We both had Chicken Cordon Blu and I added a lobster tail to mine. Robin got Boston Cream Pie for Dessert and Lyndon was happy he finally had something for her to eat. I had a double portion of Spanish Rice Pudding and then we said good night to Lyndon and Victor. Outside the dinning room an elderly couple were doing the casual photo ops and the photographer had them lying on the floor surrounded by multicolor pillows-they were so cute! We headed up to pack our dirty clothes for the trip back to Texas and plan out our final day in Valencia. We flipped through channels for a bit and watched "The Other Guys" which is a weird movie and frankly, not very good.
Valencia, Spain (Last Day)
I woke up a bit before 6AM and it was completely dark outside still. The Mediterranean Sea was much calmer than the Atlantic had been so I sat out on the balcony for a bit, writing and soaking in the sea air. We headed for the main dinning room for breakfast and I tried my luck at Eggs Benedict again, alas earwax as Dumbledore would say. I'm not sure why this ship hasn't figured out how to make eggs?
We pulled into Valencia harbor around 10AM and docked on the extreme far side of the concrete pier. It was several miles around the docks so if you weren't on a tour it was $8 for the bus. There only seemed to be about a dozen tour busses waiting so either everyone's tour was later in the morning or this just isn't a popular place to see. There was a band and some local dancers to greet us but the Captain decided to rotate the vessel to the port side so they were quickly hidden from view. We were going to the Arts & Sciences Museum and had a few minutes before we had to head to Studio B to gather with our tour mates so we relaxed in the cabin, sipping coffee, until it was time to leave.
We took the long walk off the short pier and eventually made it to our bus-lucky #13. CaesarE was out tour guide and he couldn't really speak English too well. The mic on the bus didn't really compensate for the A/C so no one could really hear him. We had wireless earbuds for the walking portions but those were pretty staticy and he didn't wear his headset on his head but rather around his neck so the mouthpiece was never in the right position. He quickly took us past churches and squares and Roman remains where there used to be something 1000 years ago but not any longer because they took all the stones to build the addition to the church tower next door... This went on for several hours until we had a 10 minute pit stop at McDonald's of all places. We reboarded the bus and headed to the other side of the river (which isn't a river any longer) and went to the City of Arts & Sciences. The Architecture was stunning but at the end of the tour I felt about it the way I felt about Valencia itself-it was full of sound and fury and signified nothing. The jumble of buildings and