Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our Last Group Photo.....minus one

Here we are except for Joel who was suffering from Mal de Mer...poor guy!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

March 3-5, 2008 We came into our last port around 2am and by 930am all the passengers and their piles of luggage were off the ship and another 1200 or so passengers were expected to arrive by 1:30pm. I don't know how they do it, but it is amazing! Very organized to say the least. We made our way safely and quickly out of the port thanks to Bob Oddone's pre-arrangement of 3 vans to ferry us to the Sheraton Rio in the Leblon area of Rio. It took us an hour as traffic here is crazy busy. After checking in and having lunch (yes, we are still eating!) we got on a Grey Line tour bus for a city tour and a ride to the top of Sugar Loaf. Wow- this city is beautiful and the setting is totally gorgeous. Everyone keeps telling us to be careful because of the high crime rate-and we can see the poverty in just the huge amounts of obviously poor people in the streets. As one Brazilian woman told me " The last five years everything has gotten worse and it shouldn't be as this country is so rich in resources." Here are a few shots....and one little movie...

View from the pool area of our hotel.

A glimpse of the famed Ipanema Beach
....taken on the tour bus

The Copacobana Palace.....priceless hahah

Going up to Sugar Loaf

At the top!

Reflection of famous Rio church
... Cathedral of Saint Sebastian

A little video from the top of Sugar Loaf

The next day we got on another Grey Line tour bus and made our way to Corcovado-what an amazing feat of engineering and sculpture. We then toured the huge city of Rio for a bit before coming back to the hotel. After lunch Russell and I lounged around the pool and basically took a chill pill while a lot of the group went on downtown to H.Stern's where some lovely purchases were made! I was very content to just be still in the sun! That night Pam treated all of us to cocktails (because she had won a Slot Machine Competition onboard and wanted to spend her winnings!)and afterwards everyone but us went to a Samba Dinner show and once again we stayed home. We were pooped! Pam will have to write about the show and I will slip it in here!
Earlier that day at lunch we had tried the very tasty local drink - Caipirinha So we had another! YUM.

The little train that took us
to the top of Corcovado

View from the top of Corcovado

The statue of Christo Redentor
perched atop Mt Corcovado

Russell and I having a pizza on our last day
We are celebratng the fact that we
are packed and ready to go!

This is where Russell and I
plus Sue and Connie C. spent
our last day. A little sun
a few drinks and some lunch!

During our last day most of us spent alot of time packing and getting ourselves mentally prepared for the very long journey home.
Pam, Harry, Keith and Patty had to leave at 10am for their early flight home.
However, Joel, Connie and Lou went downtown for one more round of shopping! Ouch!
Russell and I once again just chilled by the pool,as did Sue and Connie C. We all had one last lunch at the poolside restaurant and got to the airport at 7pm for our 11pm flight. Russell and I had to get there early to make sure we could replace our lost tickets. Fortunately we were able to do that, but it took two ticket agents about 45 minutes to do it! Whew. All of our flights were uneventful except for Connie and Joel who missed connections in Dallas because of weather-and didn't get home til midnight the next day. YOW. But, most importantly, we all got home safe and sound.
What an adventure!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Homeward bound

We are all checking out today and flying home except for Rick and Susan who flew out this am for Iguazu Falls! They will be there for two days and then back here for a few more days before finally going home on next Monday! Happy trails everyone and safe journeys to all!
Here's one last shot of Connie and Joel with Lou and Dee as they make their way to checking their baggage!

and another shot of just Dee and Connie in line- bon voyage everyone!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Last posting before we are in Rio

We have had high seas the last 48 hours or so and consequently lost
our satellite connection to the internet. Everyone is fine-some did get
seasick, but this morning the seas are back to moderate 4-7 foot swells
as opposed to the 15 foot or so swells we had yesterday.
Today is our last full day as we disembark at Rio de Janeiro tomorrow
If possible I will post while we are in Rio, but if not once we are home on Thursday I will go back and post all the photos I was unable to post because of the very poor internet connection. The cruise line charged 40 cents or more per minute for internet connectivity and it was poor at best. Tha is one thing they really do need to either improve or make less expensive. It's amazing how we depend on our emails!
Even out in the middle of the ocean.

Kathe here- a short video of the freighter next to us while going through 15 foot would 45 foot swells be? YOW....

More news from our Pam!

Hi again, This will probably be the last report from the ship as tomorrow is our last night aboard, and we disembark the 3rd in the morning. Boy, has the time gone by fast! But, as fun as it all has been, I know everyone will be glad to get home to familiar surroundings and share all the goodies and stories we have accumulated. After we left the Falklands, we had two at sea days, just cruising. The weather and seas have been basically calm. We fill the time with reading, giving money to the blackjack tables, listening to talks on the area and upcoming ports of call, walking the deck, and there are different classes that people participate in. I chose the cooking class, and there were 3 altogether. They seem to hold them while we have “sea” days. Lots of fun, just 12 people, hands on cooking,with one of the chefs onboard, Sheldon. We go to a show every night, and they have some great ones. Lots of music and singing, with a comedian in between, last night a violinist. The main event however seems to be stuffing our faces! We meet for breakfast between 8-9, chat, then off to do individual things, lunch can be at the dining room or buffet, and dinner is at 8 in the dining room. All the food is included in the price of the cruise, whether in the dining room or at the buffet. We just pay for drinks. Actually, I think it’s rather a good deal for the price. The food is wonderful and varied. They serve 6000 meals a day on this ship! Because of all the illnesses that can occur on a vessel of this size with all these people, measures are taken to avoid contamination. There are hand washing stations everywhere with that antiseptic liquid that you just rub on your hands and it disappears. They squirt it on your hands when you come and go from the ship and always before you eat or enter the dining rooms. So, in general, everyone has been very healthy, just fatter! Our next port was Buenos Aires, Argentina. A lovely city with beautiful old cathedrals, and lots of green areas. Very alive and vibrant with activity. Quite European actually. Kathe here- please note that I am just now adding photos to text written by Pam well over a week ago. We had issues with our internet service while onboard and I am slowly but patiently uploading images to go with Pam's fine descriptive words. I feel like Pam has been "Lois Lane-intrepid onsite reporter " while I have been "Jimmy Olsen -cub reporter and photographer" for our "Daily Rotterdam". Of course that means that Tom has been our "Superman-Tour Guide of the Year" !!!! Hahahah .....enjoy the photos and the finely written descriptions of our lifetime adventure! Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires, Argentina Interior of building that housed a small shopping area where some of us found handmade treasures among other things! Recoleta Cemetery where Evita Peron is interred............ La Boca neighborhood........tourist trap by day and tourist danger by night... Joel doing the Tango...... and then there's Lou doing the! Patty and Keith......... doing their version of the Tango.......Mama Mia! We had a couple of city tours, and two great “shows.” One was at Senor Tango’s, a huge Vegas style club. Dinner and show. Well, we all just expected the usual, and maybe not so much from Buenas Aires. Were we wrong! We had a nice dinner, all the wine you could want, and were treated to one of the BEST shows I have ever seen! The music was fantastic with musicians of all ages, who could be in any world class orchestra. The group was small, maybe 6, but they put out the sound! The tango dancing, by about 12 people, was unbelieveable. The speed and precision of their steps, the costumes, their beauty as performers, was unsurpassed. We were treated to this spectacular show, alternating dancing and music, for three hours! Our butts were a little sore, but it was so worth it! I have a few pictures, but it really is something you have to see to believe. Perhaps one day this group will come and tour in the US so more people.can see it! The next day (kind of early after that night!) we piled in our nice comfy bus, and headed off to the pampas country outside the city, to visit a 5000 acre ranch. This ranch was started in the 1920’s by a couple from Ireland, who came in and bought 1 acre. Their family still runs it, and has turned this working ranch into a kind of museum and example of what a large working ranch does in Argentina. After being greeted with juice, wine, and empanadas (little meat pies), we wandered around to look at the area, the beautiful gardens, and the original house that had been turned in to a museum. We looked at the lovely things in the gift shop, as Argentina is known for its leather goods, and were then treated to a lunch and little show, with another example of tango and dancing with golf balls (that size, but of some other material) flung around at top speed at the end of ropes It was quite exciting! The meal was HUGE portions of homemade and barbequed sausages, chickens, steaks, salads, all the meat cooked on a gigantic barbeque (for 250 people), all the beer and wine you could drink, finished off with a sweet dessert and coffee. I’m still too full! This was all followed by an Argentinian horse game, where the dominant mare wears a bell and all the geldings (matched colors) followed her and the cowboy, doing whatever the cowboy told them to do. There were about 6 groups of 7 horses each. Really pretty! Then there was a game where the cowboys rode at top speed to grab a little ring off of a stick, and they would then take the ring to a lady in the crowd and give it to here in exchange for a kiss! When all of this was over, some of the gals got a ride with the cowboys, and of course our Susan was first! She has been quite the hit this trip! We came back to port, and set sail for Montevideo, Uruguay, where we stayed for one day. It rained like stink, but we took a city tour again. Uruguay is a very small country of about 3 million people, 1 ½ of whom live in the city. Probably the most lovely building of our tours was there, a building for the Congress. The marble work was just beautiful, and very unique. All of the countries we have visited, with any beaches, are certainly developing them for their citizens and tourists. Rightly so, because they are white sand and perfect for that sort of thing. However, their season is only about 3 months, and the rest of the year seems to have rather bad weather! From Montevideo, we are headed to Brazil and Rio. These are 2 sea days, and because we stayed up last night listening to shows, and visiting, we slept in! Went to a special lunch today at the Pinnacle Grill, which is very fancy. We had a gift certificate so it was free to us! FAB! Then off to 2 lectures, one on Rio and the other a talk from the ship’s officers, well really a questions and answers session. Interesting and informative. So tomorrow we will have to start packing up once again. I don’t know how everything is going to fit!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Weather is quite rough, and has been since we left Uruguay. Thank goodness Harry and I are not prone to seasickness, and the ones in our group who are, have the patches, which seem to work. When the ship pitches, the water in the on deck swimming pool, flies into the air, about 12 feet! Then it rolls down to one end of the pool and does the same thing all over. I wonder just how long the water will last! Tonight’s dinner is our last formal night and we are going to have a group picture taken on the grand staircase! I’m finishing up the last load of laundry, so need to go get it! Bye for now, hope you haven’t been too bored with all this, but someone has to be the reporter! We miss you all and can’t wait to see you, after this grand adventure! Hope all is well, and if I have time, I will write once again before we leave South America. Much love to you all, Pam and Harry ( You know that all of our fellow travelers say hi too!)