Saturday, December 28, 2013

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - Titanic, the long journey home

I am really sorry to have inflicted these memories on you all, but no one else will listen to me.  Evidently, no one really wants to hear of your own grand adventure.  The other day I broke down and said more than ten words about the trip and was met with silence on the phone.  I said, "Hello, are you there?"   I heard my oldest friend in the world scramble to pick up the phone, which, bored to tears, she evidently had placed on the counter.  I can forgive her because we've known each other since our parents met right after the flood.

Besides, I do exactly the same to her when she begins to tell me about her grandchildren.

So, here we are at the third part of the tale - the cruise home from Italy aboard the Celebrity cruise ship the Constellation.  We had a great state room, mainly because we lied and said we needed handicapped access - that gave us about ten extra feet in the room, plus we had a balcony, which would have been terribly romantic if we weren't already sick as dogs.

For the first few days we just stayed in the room, sneezing, coughing, ordering room service.  It was pretty nice, actually.  We were warm, finally, and it wasn't raining - of course, the rain had stopped in Italy and it was sunny and beautiful.  When we finally did start to venture out we tried to stay away from other passengers to keep from infecting anyone, and the cruise line had a crew member posted every five feet with hand sanitizer - they take this stuff very serious.  Infections can steamroll through a ship and we were all stuck together for the next fifteen days.

We missed the first port, Florence.  I was so sick I didn't care.  I just wanted cough syrup and hot coffee.  Now I'm thinking - when will I ever return there?  I don't want to fly again, that experience was horrible.  The planes are packing more and more passengers in there and first class to Europe is not ever going to happen unless we win lotto.  So, we missed Florence.  And 'The David' with the removable fig leaf.

Next port was Cartagena, Spain.

A beautiful city...and raining, of course.

Next was Agadir, Morocco

 These pictures look a whole lot nicer than the actual city is.  I was afraid of the people, the women covered up to their eyeballs, the scary men with their Hollywood terrorist five o'clock shadow.  It's a dump, and it's a scary dump.

This is where the shuttle bus dropped us off, at the far end of this decaying parking lot, or whatever it was, with no clue where to go or what was safe.  We found out later that you are forbidden to take photos of the mosques.  Luckily I had no interest in them.  Can't explain to you the smell of this place either - like something was rotting in the distance.

Immediately off the bus we were all surrounded by scary looking men who wanted us to believe they were taxi drivers.  Ha!  We lowered our eyes and walked swiftly away.  Then a guy caught up with Rich and I, said he was a cook with another cruise ship and on his way to a very special place to buy exotic spices and he badgered us to go with him.  We never ran so fast in our lives, ended up in a poor area with a Suk (?) they call it, a shopping district.

Found out later that there was a beautiful Suk about two miles away, and there was a five star resort area a few blocks in the other direction.  Who knew?  Why the cruise line shuttle bus dumped us here is a mystery - unless it was our punishment for not purchasing a more expensive tour.  We'll never know.

God, I hated Agadir.  I was upset at first that Casablanca had been taken off the itinerary and replaced with this - then I heard Casablanca is NOT like the movie.  It's like this.

Next port was Gran Caneria in the Canary Islands.

We both liked Gran Caneria - they were having a festival and a run with their dogs.  The streets were crowed with people and canines.  The trouble with going to exotic places with palm trees and flowers all over is that  we live in Florida.  That's pretty much the same as where we live already. 

That was it for the ports - now we had the seven days on the Atlantic to sail home and every night they added an hour as we passed through the time zones.  It seemed endless, never have I been so bored in my life.  Besides that, the food was awful.  Maybe it was the colds, but it was not the feeding frenzy I had hoped for.  Best thing about the cruise was our captain - Captain Tasos something or other.  A very charming young man, his first captaincy, his first crossing as a captain and he was only 32.

 Captain Tasos

 This is a passenger/crew game.  Six crew members against about twelve passengers - it was fun to watch, and it was the day before we landed in Miami.  I was in a good mood by then.

 The buffet on the ship.  Actually, there wasn't much of a selection.  There was sushi and a lot of middle eastern dishes, neither of which we were fond of, and the smell of curry was overwhelming.

 Two days before we landed and we finally were well enough to walk on the deck a little.

And so we bid fond farewell to our transatlantic adventure.  I hated the food, I hated the people on the boat and I still have the cough.  But you know what, we're going across again in July 2014 on the Queen Mary and returning by sea as well.

I never learn.


Karen said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed the photos and your travel experiences. It's nice when someone has an honest opinion about their experiences and doesn't see everything through rose-colored classes.

Karen V. Wasylowski said...

Thanks Karen (another Karen, not me - honest) Funny thing is we actually had a great time. We say that now that we're home and safe and recovered from our bouts with bronchitis and pneumonia, and possible plague. I have to say that the ship memories are probably colored by the fact that we were both sick as dogs (there were two dogs on the ship - I forget if I mentioned that - supposedly 'service' teacup poodles. Really?) Anyway, we also had a bad experience with a person I had met on twitter and hooked up with in London. She was a nice woman who ended up hating my guts when she read my review of Perfect Nonsense. I mean she actually hated me. That colored a lot of my opinion of Paris too. I was really depressed about her and what happened.

And yet, now when my husband and I talk about the trip, it is indeed with rose colored glasses. It was a trip I'll always remember.