Our first port of call on our Med. Cruise was Gibraltar. It actually attached to Spain and there have been many times I the past when the Spanish have wanted to get back this small piece of land from the British and although the British Government would be happy to make such arrangements, there was a referendum in the late 1960's when the people of Gibraltar....voted very strongly against it.
We did not go to the hill tops as that is where there are loads of monkeys who are very mischievous and not at all nice to tourists. Pam does not like them at all !! so we stayed in town. It was the first time I had visited Gibraltar and found it quite a pleasant place. Lots of lovely shops in particular jewelery shops that I can't resist !! I don't quite know how it happened but I found myself actually in one of these delightful shops and within a few mins was very easily persuaded that a new pair of diamond earrings might just prove the best buy of the holidays particularly as they were tax and vat free and I managed to get a 60% discount......in yet another jewelery shop Mary discovered herself walking out with a lovely gold bangle...again vat and tax free and 60% discount.....no wonder we had to find Pam and Henry and a tea shop to sit and recover !!!
Second port of call was Toulon in Provence, France.. There were many museums in and around Toulon, however we did not have very long ashore and although the cruise company had laid on courtesy coaches to take us into town we did not have very long so other than a quick look around we did not see very much. A rather disappointing town altogether..
Florence in Italy...was our next day ashore. We had pre booked a tour to Florence and once we disembarked around 9.30 we soon found our coach. The driver was very helpful and got the chair into the hold without any grumbles !..our very nice lady guide was called Loretta she had a good way of describing the various places that we passed through on the hour drive. The coach was parked outside the City and it was a good walk into town. Mary walked with Loretta and so everyone walked at her pace. All went well with the exception of Pam and I !!! we were confronted by lots of steps down pavements....now wheelchairs and scooters don't really like drops on pavements and the Romans had not heard of drop kerbs LOL ( it would have been great for their chariots if they had....mind you maybe they didn't even have pavements in these days LOL.).. however the other folks on the tour could not have been kinder and we were soon masters at the art of me jumping out of chair and others pushing and pulling said chair into the road !! actually in the end I gave up getting back on the pavements and decided to take my life in my hands and stay on the road. We arrived on the Palazzo Della Signoria ( Palazzo Vechio) dominates the Piazza, with a copy of Michelangelo's statue of David adorning the stairway it was completed in 1314, what a wonderful sight David is. We were all but dead beat by the time we got there as the temp was in the high 80s so after an examination of David and some of the other magnificent statues Lunch and shade was the attraction. I soon found a nice cafe on the square and Mary and I enjoyed a cool drink and as we were in Italy an Italian Pittza was ordered between us !! very nice it was...Pam and Henry soon appeared as well and were soon relaxing at an adjoining table. I had remembered from a previous visit the story of a bronze pig at a market quite near the square so I asked the waiter exactly where it was and Mary and I were soon of in search.of it....now the story is if you rub the pigs nose you will return one day...as I never thought I would return, although I had rubbed his nose previously.....maybe it does work so I had Mary give him a good old rub....one day maybe we will return we both liked Florence very much....despite the pavements !!! The only sad part was that as on my previous visit I did not have time to visit the Ponte Vecchio Bridge this is the oldest bridge 'remaining in Florence and is now lined with Goldsmiths.....maybe be a good job I didn't get there !!!
(In Bath we have a lovely bridge called Pultney Bridge that was inspired by the Ponte Vecchio in as far as there are shops on either side ) Actually the bridge was not far from where we were but it would have been a few steps too much for Mary...After an hour and a half we met up again with Loretta and were marched back to the coach. It really was a lovely day and enjoyed by everyone I think.
So there you are the first of our off the ship trips... None of the tours were very long, in fact all were a bit rushed but it gave us a taster for the places and you can never tell we may be able to go again one day...
Getting of and on the ship was really quite a military operation. when we boarded for the first time we were photographed and given a credit size shape card...this card was all we used all the time on board, it was a "cashless ship" if we bought anything from any of the shops, bars etc. we just showed our card and by the time we got back to our Cabins we could check our account on the TV and see exactly how much we had used. When I first booked I managed to get us all $200 spending money !! (free !!) and so we were well into our second week before we actually began to "spend" any money....This same card was used as we went off the ship and so they could check we were out and again on our return so that the ship would not leave without you it was also our room "key" and had our room number on it also the deck number of our dining room in other words a "magic card" Tonight I might try and get some photographs downloaded...watch this space...
Hi Friends, I will try again to get news to you of our holiday. I made an entry last night only for it to go AWOL between me and the “blog” Grrrrrrrr.
Anyway what I was saying was that Mary, Pam Henry and I had a wonderful cruise in the Med. The taxi arrived on time and we were soon loaded and on our way to Southampton to board the Royal Caribbean's “Independent of the seas.” Once all the formalities were over it was all systems go...At first I was rather shocked by the size of the ship and the number of people who were milling around. I knew that Pam and Henry would not be liking it at all....We made first for the Windjammer Cafe as I remembered from last year that that was the best thing to do first....again it was packed, however we were soon tucking into some food which all agreed was good...then it was down to our cabins. Mary and I were on deck 9 Pam and Henry deck 6. We had by then discovered where the main dining room was and when we were booked in to have dinner, so we agreed to meet up at 6pm. The dining room was lovely and our waiters just excellent...The food throughout the cruise was delicious and served so promptly never a wrong step was made. ... After dinner we just had a further stroll around the ship trying to familiarize ourselves. As I say it was so big it was a lot to take in.
Day 1 at sea started with breakfast at 8.30. Now there were around 5/6 places we could have eaten from the Windjammer cafeteria, to street cafe's, dining room restaurant self service, or dining room full service...we opted to be served each morning...it is so nice to “come to and relax” first thing, before the onslaught of the day LOL By now we had began to get used to the size of the ship and people had started to find their own “places” and were not all milling around on the main street. Deck 5 was where we could be found if we wanted a bit of shopping extra coffee, food,. ...on the ship one could have eaten from 6am till the early hours of next day if one liked. I have never seen to much food being eaten....after the first day we decided not to have lunch served as we had had such a big breakfast. Mary and I could be found in one of our fav. Cafe's around 1ok. Having a croissant and cofee/tea, we were always helped by one of the lovely waiters who seemed to be waiting just for us to come along !! There was so much to do on board it was sometimes hard to decided where we should be !! Pam and I did three classes on jewelery making. I managed a lovely necklace, bracelet, and earrings for Beth, we tried our hand at scrapbooking, and napkin folding, but missed out on the towel folding as we were a bit late !!
If we had been energetic LOL we could have tried our hand at windsurfing !!, ice skating !!, wall climbing !!, even a game of golf or football or basketball...all on deck 13. of course there were the swimming pools I think about 4 large ones and a couple of childrens as well as various hot tubs. We spent lots of time just sitting people watching. If all that seems to be a bit hectic we could always find a quiet corner, Perhaps in the very large library where there were lovely deep leather chairs to snuggle down into, or there was always somewhere on deck that other people hadn't quite found...we were blessed with the most wonderful calm sunny hot weather. In the evening after dinner we tried out the various Theater's The Alhambra where there was a new show every night, The ice rink where there was spectacular ice shows...a few “bars” where you could always find some of the ships musicians playing for ballroom dancing, or classical or modern music, It was no wonder that we all found ourselves heading for bed quite early most nights !! I am glad to say that when we docked at all the ports we were able to go ashore which was a bonus as we had thought we might not be accessible for the chair. However the cruise company provded courtesy coaches every time to take us into the nearest town...usually just outside the port. I will stop now and next edition will tell about the various ports we visited and what we did there.
So for now. Goodnight, God Bless and Love One Another...
This is just a short message before Mary and I head away to the hopefully sunny Mediterranean for our 14 day cruise...The taxi is coming to take us down to Southampton to join the cruise we will leave in about 31/2 hours, packing is mostly all done just last min. bits and pieces found lying around.
This has been a busy week. Pam was over on Monday and as it was a Bank Holiday over here our plan to go out and about was abandoned ....the roads, attractions, cafes, etc are always so busy..so we stayed at home which was just as well as we had another three visitors that day...felt a bit like a busy railway station !!
Tuesday not so bad Mary and I just went to Chippenham to get some shopping as Sheila my friend was arriving Wed. Wed. at 12.30 Sheila duly arrived. We collected her at Bath Coach Station and all was well. When Sheila is here it is always a busy chatty time !! Thurs. Margaret and Mitch arrived but I had already said we would go out for lunch which is just what we did, In the late afternoon Peter brought over Mary's case and I went through it and decided what could be left behind and then repacked into the one big case we use between us....Yesterday another busy day. I got us early and started to look out my clothes and get packing them....hopefully everything is there. I have taken the new dresses !! well left one behind !!!!
then Beth and Max arrived,....so....we went out for lunch again !!! Afterwards had to do a bit more shopping for fruit, vegs. etc. to keep sheila going for a few days. I am so lucky to have Sheila stay here with Dee. Otherwise I could not have gone. Dee is a funny wee dog and does not take to people easily but Sheila is one who he took to instantly...very very rare that is....so I have no worries about leaving him. Only hope that Sheila does not find it to quiet all on her own, although I know a few of my Friends are going to come visit and Peter will pop in each day as usual.
Has anyone ever used Quinoa ? I had not heard about it till about a week ago when I saw a lovely salad that used it, I have cut it out and plan to make it when I come home. I managed to find a box of Quinoa yesterday and how to use it, but I was wondering if anyone out there had any recipes that used it....
Well dear friends, I must leave you for at least 14 days...probably a bit more as when we get back Sheila is staying another 4/5 days ...Till I get back always remember that being out of sight does not mean that you are out of my mind and in my prayers....