Halfway Point: To Rotterdam and Back

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Europe » Netherlands » South Holland » Rotterdam
August 6th 2018
Published: August 7th 2018
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“Exit Applause!” as Barry from Boston is fond of saying; or, as another of our favorite piano bar stars (Jeremey from our Mediterranean Cruise in 2015) would say, “We Have NEW People!” But for us, this marks the half-way point of our cruise. Nineteen days are in the books (and blogs) and now we start the bittersweet journey towards home. In nineteen more days we will be back in Boston (and Las Vegas). ** Sigh ** I must commend the cabin steward though. He has left us dark chocolate every evening on this past first leg except for two. And you know what that means: More chocolate for me! I’m surprised that Sharon didn’t say something last night. She was in the room when they came to make it up. They left that evenings chocolate, and it was dark, and they left a roll of toilet paper that she requested before she dismissed them (they haven’t been leaving the normal extra roll for most of the cruise so we suspect they needed to reload them in Rotterdam). She did manage to neglect to have them fill the ice bucket which was no small irritation to me. I swear I saw her grin as I ate that first chocolate. It was just before 10PM, and I then decided to go up to the Exploration Café and get a bottle of cold San Pellegrino and two glasses of ice. I came back with two glasses of ice. The Café was nearly closed, and everything was shutdown, and not even an oatmeal cookie to bring Sharon (much less a chocolate chip one). I still had half a bottle of San Pellegrino back in the cabin.

We have a lazy day in Rotterdam before today’s Sail-Away at 4PM. We took a leisurely breakfast in the Lido, a mushroom omelet for me and waffles, potatoes and croissant for Sharon. I brought the Sudoku which is still being gotten at the Front Desk back to the cabin. Later in the day when the Captain was greeting new passengers, he informed us all that we’d experienced the Noro-Virus on the previous leg, and that extensive steps are being taken, and that new passengers would see some evidence of these steps by not being allowed to serve yourself in the Lido. He advised that there still a few new cases, so we are not out of the woods yet. But neither are we operating under the full “Code Red” conditions either thought there’s still no self serve.

We start our Sudoku and Sharon spots me making a large Sudoku grid on the back of my puzzle sheet. “What are you doing?” she complains. “Are you making a big Sudoku Square…? You ARE!” “You can make one too,” I advised her. “Or you can take the time that it takes me to draw mine to get ahead on your small square.” She chose the latter. I knew that she would. She’s not quite OCD, but close. Things need to be just so and doing Sudoku between squiggly lines would drive her crazy.

We head out for our walkabout Rotterdam. Sharon’s plan was to walk over to the other Rotterdam, I think it was Number 4, and is now a floating Hotel nearby. Our friend Ruth remembers sailing on that Rotterdam as its sailing days were coming to an end. Sharon sets out going towards the intersection with the fancy new suspension bridge from the terminal; but, first we stumble across a rhinoceros. I am thinking, hmmm, we just booked an umpty-thousand-dollar cruise to see one of these beasts and we bump into one coming out of the terminal in Rotterdam and it doesn’t cost us anything! Sharon decides to pose and get her picture taken with this fluorescent lime green beast. And how delicately can I say this, she positions her butt just so… Who would know that the rhino horn could be used for ‘that’? I’d always heard that the rhino horn was supposed to be an aphrodisiac; but, I’d never imagined the many ways that it could be used. A lady passing by wanted to have Sharon take her picture with the rhinoceros as well; but, I don’t think her butt was really into it because Sharon was struggling to find the right position from which to click the shot on the lady’s phone.

We head across the busy street, and it’s important to watch each pedestrian signal as you cross the complete street; because there are many to get all of the way across. And you need to be aware of whether you are standing where a bicycle or moped may come zipping by, or where you are standing in a pedestrian only area. You certainly don’t want to be crossing the street while using your phone to distract you; because, those bicycles and mopeds come zipping by fast. We even saw a six-person peloton whiz by going probably 40 MPH, sweeping around a semi-blind curve. We find a bench by the water’s edge, in the shade, and snap some pictures. Sharon decides to get out her phone and finds that other Rotterdam and says that it’s only 7 minutes away. I looked at the direction on the phone and said, “Not the way I walk.” She agrees, “Okay, it may take ten minutes.”

We retrace our steps back to the intersection, and it seemed to me that that alone must have taken five minutes; plus, we still need to cross that busy intersection where all of the traffic comes swooping down off of that bridge, including the cycle lanes. We make the left turn and walk straight until we are forced to take the right that should take us out onto the peninsular jut that the old Rotterdam is moored at. It’s now been at least fifteen minutes and we mercifully find a bench in the shade. Sharon’s GPS now indicates that we are only 6 minutes away and I complain, “Have you got it on ‘Driving Instructions’?” “Don’t be silly,” she grins pointing, “Look, there’s a sign pointing to the Rotterdam, the brown sign, do you see it?” This is what we call “Bait and Switch”. I asked a pointed question, and she dangles a carrot in front of me to chase. Sharon points out some floating trees on our side of the harbor, and also a strange double-bubble-dome building jutting out into and over the water. That was my queue to go over and take some pictures; while, she goes and sits on that bench that I’d spotted in the shade. I return, and there is a little bit of shade for me too.

We continue walking and the one thing that I notice, other than the sun which seems to be blaring down without mercy, is that there are no more benches. We turn right and find a separated bike and pedestrian path down the middle with car traffic on either side. Fortunately, the is a tree lined roadway, tall trees on both sides providing a wonderful overhead canopy. It’s so much easier to walk in this park-like setting and off the busy main thoroughfare, and we continue to what appears to be, and in fact is a bench, in the shade. I can’t resist taking a picture of the neon “Las Vegas” sign on the side of a building. We check Sharon’s GPS and it now says just 5 more minutes. I ask, “Well, how far is it?” and Sharon replies, “It says just 1.6 kilometers.” I ask her, “Are you treating me to an Über ride back? I’m not walking another mile, and then walk back to the ship.” She agrees, and so we retrace our steps. At least we know where the benches are.

Sharon heads up to the Lido Deck; while, I stop of at the Exploration Café to get a large iced mocha. I check for chocolate chip cookies for Sharon; but, all that they have are about one dozen oatmeal cookies. Sharon gets chicken for lunch, and I decide not to get anything else, and enjoy every ice cube in my iced mocha. We’re planning, or should I say, I’m planning to have a big dinner tonight at the Pinnacle Grille.

On my way back to the room, I again stop in the Exploration Café to see if I can pickup a couple of bottles of San Pellegrino; but, they have none. I was surprised to see that there were only two oatmeal cookies left; so, somebody must like them… It’s just not me or Sharon!

It may seem silly; but, passengers need to have “Life Boat Drill Instruction” at least every 21 days. Today is the required day to do the drill, with about 250 new people getting onboard. After the drill Sharon tells me, “Go back to the cabin and get the camera. I want to take some pictures.” I replay, we should have taken the camera with us.” Sharon had an answer for that, “You’re not supposed to bring any unnecessary things to the drill.” Isn’t “Black and White” Rule Following an OCD marker? So, Sharon’s pack mule heads back to the cabin, and back to find her again on the Promenade Deck. There was an Oompah-Pah band playing in front of the terminal to bid us farewell. Sharon was snapping away with the camera. I don’t know why that I got it into my head that mass was at 4PM today, but I did. I ask Sharon, “Do you want to go to mass, and I’ll go up and take some pictures from the Sports Deck?” “How much time do I have?” And I answer, “Twenty minutes.” You notice that she didn’t ask “What time is it?” or we might have avoided the following unfortunate stream of events. Sharon heads for the Hudson Room on the Upper Promenade Deck, assuming that mass will be there. It is full of Bridge Players, who really don’t like being disturbed. During one of the big cleaning efforts to control the Noro-Virus the staff had come and wanted to clean the Hudson Room which was being used by the bridge players. The staff had asked the bridge players to leave. Their response had been, “No. You don’t ask the people in the casino to leave; so, don’t ask us to leave either.” I guess they hadn’t noticed that in the casino there was a steward standing by to clean every machine after somebody stopped playing. It just meant some cleaning person was going to get less sleep tonight when they’d have to clean the Hudson Room at two in the morning I guess. You gotta love bridge players, they do have their priorities. I can say that because my parents were both avid bridge players, and I did love them both.

Sharon concluded that mass must be in the Wajang Theatre today, so she went down to the Promenade Deck. She was surprised to see the room set up for mass; but, that she was the only one there. Something wasn’t right. She finally finds someone in the Pinacle to ask the time and found out it was only 3:45 so too early for mass which she knew was at 5. So, the riddle was solved.

I’m up snapping pictures, and spot Jim and Rose Marie taking a stroll. I was surprised that Jim didn’t have his camera with him. I ask Rose Marie, “Did you see the Oompah-Pah band?” “Oh that’s not an Oompah-Pah band,” she insists. The music isn’t quite as distinct as high up as we are as it was from the Promenade Deck. I say, “All they have is accordions.” And she agrees, “Maybe it is Oompah-Pah music.” I guess she, like I, wouldn’t associate this type of music with the Netherlands; but, then again, it is beer drinking music in a beer drinking town.

I had just taken a picture of a windmill when I turn around, and to my considerable surprise I spot Sharon standing there and she doesn’t appear to be a happy camper. “Mass isn’t until 5,” she informs me. And I’m thinking, that’s funny, she doesn’t sound too terribly mad. “Ooh. My bad.” We also passed the old Rotterdam and both “ships” blew there horns at each other a couple of times.

Sharon did go to mass at the right time, and Father Roman gave a reprise performance of his balloon animal sermon since there were new people but it was with a twist; which he had started with almost three weeks earlier. I was getting ready for dinner at the Pinnacle; and, when Sharon returned, she dressed up as well.

With no lunch, I was ready to eat everything on the menu. The still didn’t leave us the bread basket, and we had to have the bread choices that we wanted served to us. I went for three of the thin long triangular crisps coated with seeds, something not as filling as their other delicious bread choices. The one that appeared to be baked perfectly seemed stale to me; but, the other two that appeared more well done were perfect. The amuse bouche was a combination scallop and shrimp in HAL’s brandied cocktail sauce served with a tiny amuse-bouche spoon. Who knew! I enjoyed two of them! I ordered the Jumbo Shrimp cocktail, with spicy cocktail sauce and got a large side of horseradish to beef up the octane. It was a very sweet sauce and needed a lot of beefing up. Sharon ordered me the Crab Cakes. I enjoyed both; and, I enjoyed the lobster bisque as well. Sharon ordered a filet, and I think that I will as well the next time that I eat at the Pinnacle. I ordered the Bone-In Ribeye and ordered it medium-rare. Sharon gave me that “Are you quite sure?” look, and I realized, “OMG I’m supposed to order ribeye’s medium.” It takes the extra heat to break down the fact, so I changed it to medium. For sides we chose the whipped potatoes, Brussel sprouts and mushrooms. They brought me more crisps; but, half of them were stale as well. I’ve never had that issue before. The steaks were delicious; but, I thought that mine was still a bit tougher than it should have been. The mushrooms were fantastic. The Brussel sprouts could perhaps have been served without the cheese congealed on top of them. We both thoroughly enjoyed dessert. Sharon had her, how did the waiter call it, “Standard Really-Not-Standard Baked Alaska”. I believe that it’s made with Ben and Jerry Cherry Garcia Ice Cream. I had the Chocolate Lava Cake which is the Go-To Chocolate offering for dessert. We still miss when they had Chocolate Soufflés.

I saved Sharon a seat at the show, and spent the time waiting on my phone getting in some Game-Time. Maria Lyn is a vocalist that performed quite a few memorable and catchy tunes. Neither of us had ever heard the Abba song that she sang; at least, she said that it was an Abba song. She went down into the audience and drafted the gentleman sitting on the end saying, “I’ll bet you never thought that you’d be performing on the stage of the Rotterdam!” She needed him to play Elvis. He did a swivel of his hips, and she said, “That’s good, we can use that. But do you know what Elvis is famous for saying?” He goes “Uh Huh”. “That’s close, but I need you to say, ‘Ah Hah.’ Can you do that?”. He thought he could. “So when your part comes, swivel your hips, and say what?” And he chimed in “Uh huh”. She was singing and cuing him, and he would swivel his hips, and each time he did a variation of “Uh huh”; but, it was getting worse. She told him he had one last chance, and then it came, “Ah Hah”. And the song ended. Maria told him, “Now, where ever you go on this cruise, people will swivel their hips and point at you, and they’ll say ‘Ah hah’ and you can say ‘Ah Hah’ right back at them!” Sharon left a little early to make sure that she got a seat in the piano bar.

I showed up and Barry had just started playing. The bar was about 75% full and others were traipsing in. That’s when I noticed the lady seated at the piano who was fawning all over Barry and punctuating the end of every song with “Woooo-Hoooo”! Sharon looks at me and says, “She’s the one…” Then I catch a glimpse of the conversation between the lady and Barry as the room is filling up. She whispers to Barry, “They kicked me out of here on the last leg.” And Barry smiles and replies, “I remember.” Barry was playing a few chords, as people settled. A man came across the front, behind Barry’s groupie, and spotted Elvis (who I now noticed sitting across from us). He pointed his finger at Elvis, swiveled his hips, and said “Ah hah”. Elvis just hung his head, now doubt thinking “This cruise has suddenly gotten a whole lot longer”. Barry of course was clueless as to what was happening; but, he knew that he was on the outside of an inside joke. And I think that the groupie was a bit put out that she was suddenly not the focus of everyone’s attention. Barry deftly moved on and had the bar steward describe todays “Cocktail of the Day” and I was thinking that I should probably try one, a Jamaican Rum Daiquiri with some Cherry Liquor. Barry noted to the crowd extatically, “They’ve fixed my G-String!” He’d been complaining since we’d left Newfoundland that one of his G keys was flat. This seemed to encourage his wine-drinking groupie who volunteered, “I love you Barry.” And in case nobody heard, added an even more raucous, “Woooo-Hoooo!” Barry did encourage her in a nice way to be cool, and her “Woo-hoo’s” weren’t quite as outrageous after that. Sharon observed she wasn’t shouting “Ride’m Cowboy” and carrying on the way that she had. She eventually got up and left saying something about “I need to dance!” The tension in the room relaxed considerably after she left; without that “What’s going to happen next” consternation. What was looking to be a long night for Barry, suddenly got a lot more fun. We’d been listening to Barry for about an hour doing music from the 60’s and it was getting pretty warm in our corner of the piano bar. We were both ready to go, and as we did get up to head back to the cabin, we did so to a chorus of “Exit Applause!”


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