Monday, the 10th of November was ship embarking day, but hell….we didn’t have to be there until around 2 PM so Dick and I decided we had one more important bit of sightseeing to do before the cab to the pier……we had to visit the still uncompleted Sagrada Familia church designed by the architect Gaudi (yup, the guy who gave the word to the world).
As we were checking out and leaving our luggage in the hotel’s storage room, I head “hey there!” and there stood Nannette and her friend Barbara who had arrived the day before. Three times I had asked if they had checked in and each time was told either they hadn’t or for that matter, even held a reservation! That mystery solved, turns out only Barbara had been able to make the flights. Nanette, Katherine and Mary-Ellen had been bumped and had to reroute via Madrid…..in addition to losing ALL their checked luggage!!! Being pro-active and not really wanting to go on a 12 day cruise without luggage, the 4 ladies set out back to the airport the morning of ship sailing day with a mission of finding their luggage. Luckily, the quest was a success and they arrived at the pier just before Dick and I did.
While the ladies were off looking for luggage, for all of 1 Euro 30 (about $1.65), we took a bus that dropped us off virtually at the front of the church where we rented self guided tour head sets. The church has been under construction for over a hundred years and noone can yet say when it will be completed. Never mind those cathedrals of the middle ages that took centuries to build….this one is also being built without time constraints. Religious services still are not held on a regular basis, but for some strange reason, they have been able to open a gift and souvenir store …. ! Gaudi himself is now long dead and buried, but his plans, notes, ideas are still faithfully being executed by succeeding architects. It was an easy downhill 30 minute walk with a stop for a tapas lunch back to the hotel….gathering up our luggage and taking a taxi to the NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS.
Embarkation was a very simple process and with the ladies and their luggage arriving from the airport at the same time, we were able to have the group together for the ubiquitous embarkation photo. (which none of us bought at the going price of $19.00).
After the finding the cabins and the oohs and aws at the ship design and décor we didn’t feel a thing as the ship sailing promptly at 5 PM. At 6:15 PM, the Rose Group met officially for the first time at our dining room table on the uppermost level of the 3 story dining room. We all laughed because we didn’t have to go thru the usual “where are you from?”, “what do you do?”, “how much did you pay?” routine so common when one first arrives at the dining table. Hell, Nanette, Barbara, Mary-Ellen, Katherine, Dick and I all paid the same ridiculous low price for our inside (read: caves…no window) cabins. Some of my readers might ask “why the Rose Group name?”. Well, except for Barbara, we’ve all worked for Rose Calcavecchia ….. checking in cruise ship passengers !!!!
The next morning, we arrived in Cartagena, Spain and with my trusty cell phone, set up a meeting of all of us with my friends Jane and David Alexander who were a 2 hour drive away on holiday from Southampton, England. Now we were 8 talking and laughing people as we walked around the city trying to find the ancient Eiffel Tower like elevator that took us to the castle and overlook for the entire city. Then we all got onto the open upper level of a sightseeing bus that took us around the city. Unfortunately, I could not get Jane and David aboard the ship, but just visiting with them proved that the world is indeed getting smaller……me from Hollywood Florida meeting friends from Southampton England at a city in Spain !!!!!! It is worth noting here, that one of the first things Jane and David asked, as did so many Europeans I’ve met since November 4th, was how we felt about our new president-elect. Most Americans have no idea of the interest the Europeans had in this election and how our credibility as a country jumped back onto the positive side with the election of Mr. Obama.
A highlight of today’s (November 13) activities was the amazing show down in the ice rink on Deck 3. Yup, you read it right…..ice rink. They had some excellent ice skaters who truly put on a nail biting…..I can’t believe they did that….type show. One of the skaters was from Montreal who not only ice skated, but also did aerial acrobatics. Every day, any passenger can go down, put on a pair of ice skates and give it a shot, but I think I’ll pass that up….along with the rock climbing wall !!!!!
I write this as we near the end of our first 2 sea days. Tomorrow will be Ponta Delgada on the island of San Miguel in the Portuguese Azores. I’m sure there will be more stories to tell from that visit and in the following 6 sea days as we follow the sunny (hopefully) southern route to Ft. Lauderdale.
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