Archive for March 2015

A little bit of Curacao…   Leave a comment

The weather continues to be in our favor for our day in Curacao. It is in the 80’s and a bit overcast. I had booked a tour of Curacao that was to have been in the morning. It was moved to 1:00 which wasn’t a major problem, but I would have liked to have been notified by the ship of the change. I didn’t notice until I looked at the meeting time on the tour ticket.

So in the morning I just walked around the port area. It is very nice with several shops and restaurants to choose from.

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Curacao is famous for its floating bridge…but wouldn’t you know it? It was closed for repairs while we were here.

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The good news is that the ferry that takes you across the channel when the bridge it closed is free. 🙂

I enjoyed the use of colors on all of the buildings. I haven’t verified the truth of this statement, but supposedly a governor encouraged the citizens to stop painting all of the houses white to promoted the islands uniqueness. Later it was discovered that he owned the largest paint distributor on the island. True or not it’s a good tale and the island is pretty.

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The tour itself was okay. Of course we had to go for a sales pitch on Curacao liquor:

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And then it was off to the Curacao Museum. I admit my attention wandered here as the building wasn’t airconditioned and was stifling.  The one highlight to me was a bit of the first KLM plane to fly from the Netherlands to Curacao.

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The journey used to take seven days if you can imagine!

On our way to our final stop, the Hato Caves, we past a salt marsh filled with flamingos that have made their way over from Bonaire.

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The caves are interesting, but HOT! You climb fifty steps up to the cave entrance and the interior is hot and humid. They do have fans moving the air, but they aren’t much help. The tour guide was good, explaining what we were seeing. Including the soot marks on the ceiling left by the torches of runaway slaves that hid there. There is a central cave that is home to about 300 fruit bats. Because of the bats, we were only allowed to take photos in one chamber, and that had natural light from a hole in the ceiling that was the bats’ front door so to speak.

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It was a decent tour, but I think I would have preferred sticking to the area near the ship and maybe grabbing some lunch! So far we haven’t tried any local foods or beverages. We need to work on that. Maybe at the next stop!

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Aruba – One Happy Island   Leave a comment

I skipped writing about the two sea days…they are great, but kind of like Groundhog Day…breakfast, wander around the ship, maybe catch a lecture, lunch, read, nap, dinner, maybe a show. 😉 Doesn’t make for scintillating reading.

We had an uneventful and timely arrival in Aruba. We had a half-day Land Rover tour booked first thing. So after a quick breakfast at the Garden Cafe, we got off of the ship to join our tour. As we had never been to Aruba, this tour was appealing for hitting all of the major sites. I liked that it was a smidge more adventurous than a standard coach tour. A coach took us to the yard where the open air jeeps awaited (I find that a more accurate description than “Land Rover”).  We ended up with the tour guide Kimroy as our driver.

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The say started off cloudy, but as Aruba isn’t known for rain, the sun took over a short time into the tour. We both hit the major spots (Natural Bridge (although the main bridge collapsed in 2005), lighthouse, Chapel, etc) but stopped for several photo ops as well.

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We also stopped at Arashi beach for thirty minutes or so. But with no facilities to change or rinse off, we settled for dipping our toes on the water.

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It was a nice tour, Kimroy was entertaining and knowledgeable.  I would definitely recommend this tour. We booked through the ship, but I am sure you could book with De Palm tours directly.

A Southern Caribbean Journey Begins   Leave a comment

Despite having over 20 cruises under our belts, DH and I have never been to Aruba, Curacao, St Lucia or St Kitts, and have only sailed out of Miami once.  This trip aboard the Norwegian Pearl would fix both of those things. Like all good cruisers should, we flew into Miami the day before the cruise. Points with IHG nabbed us a lovely bay view room at the International Miami. I didn’t bother with a car service or the Super Shuttle as I knew taxis would be plentiful. $30 got us to our hotel door.

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Be forewarned that this hotel, while gorgeous, does charge a $10 service charge and tacks 18% onto all food and beverage purchases, so no extra tipping here!

I enjoyed a fantastic mojito at the pool bar:

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and later we enjoyed some tapas for dinner at Toro Toro. There was a convention going on with about 400 Crowne Plaza employees. This made bar space a premium, but also made for good conversation. We even ran into a person who worked in sales at our local hotel. Small world!

After a very peaceful sleep, we were greeted by the sight of the Pearl across the bay:

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By 10:30, we’d had enough looking at her, and grabbed a cab at the front of the hotel. $11 later we were dropping our bags off. By 11:30 we were being escorted onto the ship by our lovely concierge, Elvina. Our home away from home for the next eleven days would be our 2-bedroom suite.

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After a fine sailaway in perfect weather, with a champagne toast or two:

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We would end up at Cagney’s Steakhouse for dinner. This day also happened to be the birthday of a very good friend, and this was her choice. We all enjoyed our meals and a resounding chorus of “Happy Birthday” with a nice birthday cake completed the evening. It was a very nice start to our cruise.

Leaving London…   Leave a comment

I have been remiss in wrapping up my final thoughts on this latest London adventure.  As I have another trip coming up next week, I must deal with this before I can move on to the next adventure in good conscience!  That makes it sound like writing this is a chore, but believe me it isn’t.  I have been very busy in the month since my return, and reliving my London trip will be a nice break!

I intentionally flew out a little later than normal (4:30 PM) to maximize my time in London.  So that last morning in the house, I got up to a nice breakfast with good friends.  We went our separate ways here…one friend had gotten free tickets to the Sky Garden and although I wanted to go, we had put in a late night the night before and I still needed to pack.  Not wanting to feel rushed this last morning I passed (plus the Sky Garden is over by St. Paul’s which was a little farther afield than I wanted to go).  So after finalizing my packing three of us went for a stroll to Vauxhall Park to see what remains of the miniature Victorian village there:

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and further onto Lambeth Palace for a quick photo op.

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We were granted another sunny morning before the rain rolled in, making our weather during our visit very nice overall.  Only needed the umbrellas one day really!

Local friends made certain that we all got to our respective airports (and even squeezed in time for a pub stop)!  🙂

My flight home was delayed slightly, and we had a small concern when a sensor that detects ice had a malfunction…fortunately the “easy” fix worked and because of great tail winds, we managed to get back to Boston on time.

Final thoughts….as usual, London was superb.  I simply love any time I get to spend in that wonderful city.  I am especially glad that I finally got to do the Twilight  Tour of the Tower of London!  I am also really glad that I had the chance to visit with so many friends during my short stay and that my traveling companions seemed to enjoy themselves as much as I did.

I usually don’t rent houses, preferring full-service hotels, but I will rent this house from Bev and Jeff whenever I have a chance!  They provided so many amenities, that it has nearly all of the conveniences of a hotel, whilst providing the seclusion and comfort of a private home.  It is also no more than a 5-minute walk to the bus stop or 15-minutes to the tube or train stations.  It was nice to feel a bit like a local for a few days!  Unfortunately, I will have to wait a couple of years before I get to experience their hospitality again.

Farewell to London until next time!

Posted March 18, 2015 by cubechick in London

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