Preparing to LeaveDecember 15, 2018, North Atlantic Ocean ⋅ ☀️ 77 °F
More pics around the ship
Funny to see snow falling on finder board when it was 80 degrees outside!!!
More pics around the ship
Funny to see snow falling on finder board when it was 80 degrees outside!!!
Relaxing day of reading by the pool and competitive shuffleboard game!!!
My and Barb's view from our chairs watching the waves!
We played a fun round of golf in the wind with the ship swaying... we played it "who's line anyway" style... where the points don't matter and we make up the rules as we go.
We also hid some ducks... it's a thing people do on cruise ships.
GRATITUDES: After a very nice dinner at the French restaurant next to our hotel, I had a pretty darn good sleep in that technosavvy hotel. We did not have an early morning departure (I thought we flew out around 1:30pm-ish), so it was nice to not have to set an alarm. For some reason though, I woke up really early anyway. And, rather than rolling over, I decided to stay awake because I thought it might make it easier to doze a little on the plane. So, I languished away almost an hour and a half piddling away on email and Facebook and Find Penguins before John woke up ... shortly before 7:00am. We figured we had oodles of time and were leisurely chatting about what time we should get the shuttle. And so ... I opened my WestJet App to confirm the exact time so we could configure our scheduling for re-packing (getting the cold weather wear out and the shorts and sandals tucked away), eating breakfast and shuttling to the airport.
GOOFS: You cannot even begin to imagine the jolt of adrenalin that coursed through my veins when I looked at the the departure time and it said ... 11:20am!!!! WHATTTTT!! I think I even dropped the f-bomb. John's eyes were as big as saucers and we both scrambled out of bed as I tried to calculate our time frame backwards! But when you are in a state of extreme alarm, your pre-frontal cortex doesn't work. I was thinking ... with my heart thumping out of my chest ... we have to be at the airport by 9:20am. We have to have about 45 minutes for the shuttle. That was hard math in that moment. Okay. We have to be at the shuttle by 8:30am. Oh my gosh ... we have to be to breakfast by 7:45am. Gah!! Therefore, we have to get showered and dressed and re-packed within the next 30 minutes!!!! YIKES!!! It didn't seem possible!
GROANS: I couldn't even remember where my toothbrush was at that moment! John decided to jump in the shower. OH yeah!! Our colorful shower. I didn't think I even had time to take a shower ... but ... it was the colorful shower!! And so ... I determined to get in and get wet with a burst of some color ...at least!
GRINS: And so ... John manned the IPAD controls. FUSCHIA first. It was okay. PERIWINKLE BLUE next. Ah yes. He liked the blue on me! Perhaps it was because we were both seeing red ... and since our favorite color is purple ... it made a pleasing combo! It made no difference to me at that point. I was too rushed to consider trying on the other colors. So, I guess we will never really know what color is the most flattering on a wet 60 year old. And, that is my sad and quick end to what might have been a truly 'colorful' story. Sorry gang.
GAHS: Most surprisingly, we were so darn quick that we were at breakfast by 7:30am. And ... we were ahead of schedule for the shuttle too. And so ... I don't even want to be reminded that I probably had time to try on the other colors! I was too busy kicking myself for fouling things up! I was just grateful that we caught my error in time to get on the plane at all!
GRIMACES: And then ... it turned out that we were delayed by about 45 minutes anyway. Such are the unexpected unpredictabilities of travelling. And ... we learned that we have to disembark in Halifax ...get our luggage and go through customs there. Then, we have to put our luggage on the transfer belt ... and get back on the same plane ... same seats. But, of course, we had to go through security all over again. Arghhhh. And our departure time was 3:00pm. And, we were still standing in the line at the security counters at 2:40pm. So ... we had a little stress about missing our connection with the same aircraft we arrived on. And ... the water we bought when we got through security in Paris ended up in the trash in Halifax.
GRATITUDES: On a more positive note, just before we landed, when we broke through the clouds over Nova Scotia, we were gifted with the most beautiful display of Autumn leaves! I took a pic out the window of the plane! This was our first taste of Autumn colors! And, I have been craving a Subway sandwich for a while now ... and ... was able to snag one at the airport. I'm also looking forward to having a Tim Hortons in the morning! Oh ... and most interestingly ... back at the airport in Paris they had something I had never seen before. They have a container called a charge box. You can rent a little locker space equipped with various types of chargers ... pay your money ... and then lock it up. Brilliant for those who don't have adapters.
GOODNESS: We were scheduled to be flying for some 13 hours today so I decided to order the Internet that WestJet provides because I thought it would help me pass the time. And it did!! I was able to work on our "50 Travel Questions" about our journey! So, I typed away as we chatted and reflected on the questions. It always fun to revisit things because the conversation sparks memories that had fallen off your radar. I was really hoping to get it done before we get home and get back to work and forget too much!! I'll blog them here when I get them completed.
GAHS: Our flights were both delayed ... so there are folks who missed their connections tonight. Fortunately, for us, we got the shuttle to our hotel and are so glad we don't have to drive back tonight. So, we are staying in Calgary ... having a gourmet dinner of squished ham sandwiches that have been in our bag since Paris (17 hours ago), some Pringles (becoming a staple for us!) and some wine we grabbed at the airport. And then, we'll be taking the Red Arrow back home tomorrow!
It actually feels really good to be back in Canada. Looking forward to reconnecting soon!! But for now, good night from us ... k&j
GROANS: For some reason ... our pictures won't upload. I'll try again tomorrow! As my mothermother-in-law used to say: "Its always something!"Read more
As we have mentioned numerous times, we have had an extremely smooth passage around the world. I feel I can safely say that now that we are heading north through the Caribbean and toward home. We had 4 days of rough seas out of the 134 days we have been sailing and we have only had 2 1/2 days of rain while we were in port.
There have been a number of cyclones or storms that have occurred just before or after our visits to certain ports. A cyclone developed within 12 hours after we left Tahiti and there was a tremendous storm the day before we sailed into Hong Kong. The seas were quite rough in and out of Sydney, but nothing compared to the 40’ seas that the Carnival cruise ship endured last week waiting outside Sydney for the harbor to reopen after huge seas and the 30” of rain in one day wrecked havoc for all harbor activities.
A volcano erupted just after we left Guatemala and another just before we arrived in Tonga - the latter eruption created a whole new island!
There was a hostage situation in Sydney shortly before we got there. The terrible kidnappings and shootings of the students in Kenya happened a couple of days after we left and the social unrest that has led to violence and killings in Durban, South Africa occurred only a few days after we left as well.
This trip has impressed on us that the world is a continually evolving place in both natural and social arenas. Now that we have visited so many new countries and spoken to people that live there about their lives and daily challenges, it gives a new perspective on the world as a whole. It is interesting to speculate about what has been successful and unsuccessful, the ways that various countries have chosen to handle issues and what the outcome has been. We find the world news fascinating now that we have walked some of the streets where these current events are unfolding.
In addition to traveling on the ship, we have been on motorboats, a zodiac, a flatboat and a kayak. We’ve taken trains, subways, an air train, a double-decker bus, countless big busses, small buses, mini busses and vans. We’ve been in hired cars that looked like they couldn’t limp around the block much less get us to our destination, taxis that required 10 minutes of price haggling before getting in, tuk-tuks and bicycles. We swam, snorkeled, floated, waded, run and my Vivofit tells me I have walked 675 miles since leaving home on December 19th.
Will I remember how to cook? Will I remember how to drive - and on which side of the road? 85% of the places we visited drive on the left side of the road. And I shudder to think of how much wine and Proseco I have consumed. We’ve changed time zones 29 times so I’m not really sure what time it is.
We’ve met many wonderful people on this trip and even though we’ve been on vacation, we feel a bit exhausted and have much more to process. Among mixed emotions of our trip ending, we’ll get off the ship with big smiles on our faces and maybe a tiny tear in our eyes.Read more
We anchored off of Devil’s Island and were happy to hear that we could tender in even though the seas were fairly rough.
Devil’s Island is an infamous French penal colony that was well-known for the horrific conditions in which prisoners were kept, in many cases for quite minor infractions.
The story (movie and book) Papillon tells a very graphic story of a prisoner who spent time on Devil’s Island and eventually escaped. 72,000 prisoners were imprisoned here over the years and almost all died here, their bodies being cast into the sea.
We visited on an overcast and windy day - the island had a very ominous feel to it. It is very green and jungle-like with agutis (small animals that look like a cross between a large rat and a squirrel, but stand on long skinny legs) and monkeys everywhere. The prison was actually in operation until the 1950’s before word got out about how bad the conditions were and it was eventually abandoned.
Devil’s Island is an archipelago of 3 small islands surrounded by very rough, shark-infested waters. This is what made escape from the island virtually impossible.
The first photo is Jeff as "Papillon".
The second photo is an agate.
The third photo is a local monkey.Read more
Apartheid was a system of segregation and discrimination used by South African Afrikaners of Dutch decent until the early 1990s when it was abolished. The South African government carefully divided the population into black, colored and white designations, even using guides for hair curliness or skin shading to make these assignments. The blacks had the lowest rank with no voting rights. Coloreds were those of Asian, Indian or mixed descent and were one step above blacks in socio-political ranking. Even though blacks were by far the majority of the population, they were restricted to living in less than 20% of the total land area of South Africa, an ironic situation for these original inhabitants.
As the country developed, blacks in rural areas migrated to cities where there were jobs. Large portions of the cities, termed districts, gradually began to be integrated with their own music, artistic cultures and economies. Integration was antithesis to the concept of apartheid so bulldozers were brought in to level these districts during the 70s and 80s, forcing the residents into designated areas outside the cities called townships.
The townships were hastily constructed dense collections of buildings with inadequate water or sewage infrastructure. The government built some block houses in the townships but shanties filled the spaces between the government houses to accommodate the many people forced to live there. The location of the townships outside the cities led to blacks spending high percentages of their income on transportation to city jobs and aggravated the poverty and income disparity.
The apartheid policy had even more sinister societal goals. Certain areas of the townships had designated housing for single male workers from rural areas. Their wives were allowed to visit only one night per month and a significant charge was levied for this one night stay by the government. However, girlfriends were allowed unrestricted access to the male residences and there was no charge for their visits. The goal of this scheme was to actively break down the family and social structures of the rural blacks.
The resulting escalating internal social unrest as well as economic pressure from the rest of the world lead SA President F.W. de Klerk to negotiate a peaceful transition to democracy with Nelson Mandela and others in the early 1990s. Mandela had been in harsh prison conditions for 27 years and we had the opportunity to visit Robben Island where he was held for 18 of those years. Our tour was led by a former inmate who described the cruelty they experienced. The political prisoners were treated particularly aggressively because, unlike common criminals, they were a real threat to the government so the leadership wanted to “break” them. It was therefore remarkable that Mandela promoted a future of national harmony, inclusion and forgiveness without revenge. For example, we were surprised to learn that some of the former prison guards also work for the Robben Island tourist site and they are now friends with the former inmates.
The national Truth and Reconciliation Commissions brought previous apartheid practices into the open for the country to address. Many townships and racial disparities remain, as do several of the razed districts, but the population appears to be surprisingly integrated. Even with setbacks in the process, we were impressed with how the people we talked with faced down the horrible past and were actively working toward a more integrated and accepting future.
The first photo is District 6 in Cape Town.
The second photo is a Cape Town Township.
The third photo is East London razor wire.
The fourth photo is East London Township
The fifth photo shows the inadequate garbage collection.Read more
It was a typical, quiet day at sea except the temperature took a drastic drop. After 2 laps I came indoors as it was cool and windy on deck, where people on loungers were nestled under beach towels. It seemed that everyone was winding down and preparing for disembarkation in the morning. After dinner we did see a very funny comedian and an excellent singer from the Netherlands, where she had won their version of American Idol. We used the last of our beverage credits so JS could finally try the Penicillin cocktail he was curious to try, which he didn’t really enjoy after all, judging by the face he made with each sip. My mojito was almost as good as the ones Alyssa makes.
It’s been an interesting 2 weeks, the longest cruise we have taken and likely the longest we will ever take. Our ship, the Amsterdam, will be departing for a 4 month world cruise after we leave. I believe the fare is around $50,000 for 2 people and there are about 1300 people who have reserved. Even if I could afford it, I couldn’t be on a ship for that length of time. We did meet a lot of interesting people, all of them world travellers with stories to tell. It always surprised me that every single person I spoke to had travelled to far off places, mostly by cruising. I also briefly met Dolly, a 92 year old woman who lives on the ship full time. Another passenger told me Dolly came from Winnipeg but when I asked her this, she said “Winnipeg...never heard of it. I’m from San Diego but this is my home now”. She’s been cruising for years and gets special attention from the officers. It might be a better option than a personal care home if you can afford it!Read more
Couldn't see them from where we were sitting but we saw them on the big screen.
Heute wieder Körperhygiene bei 5 Knoten Fahrt achterlich auf der Brücke mit Eimer: Salzwasser und Sea-Shampoo müssen genügen. Zum wirklichen Eintauchen sind wir zu schnell.
Ereignisloser, aber schöner Tag: Heute merke auch ich, dass wir in der unendlichen Weite ded Ozeans angekommen sind. Komisch, zum Horizont scheint es immer aufwärts zu gehen! Dieser Eindruck bleibt, solange wir kein Land sehen.
Eine Stunde vor Sonnenuntergang beisst noch die zweite Goldmakrele an. Diese Art scheint den blauen Köder von Mike zu mögen (Williamson, Dorade Catcher). Der Fisch schmeckt aus dem Ofen wundervoll.
Morgen ist mein Geburtstag. Ich werde ihn mit vier Stunden Wache in der Nacht beginnen. Irgendwie bin ich dankbar für diese ausserordentliche Erfahrung der Leere, aber auch der tiefen und guten Gemeinschaft unter Freunden.Read more
You might also know this place by the following names:
North Atlantic Ocean, Océan Atlantique Nord