Friday, February 24, 2017

Jamaica and the White Witch

The day after Cozumel was spent at sea. I woke early because I was in bed the night before at 10pm. Actually I was so tired that night that I was starting to doze at supper between courses. In my own defense, we have supper at 8pm and usually don't finish until 9:30 or 10:00.

Before I went to bed, I stopped by one of the bars to get an ice cold glass of water. I was very dozey on the way back to my cabin and was stopped by one of the staff thus saving me from stepping into a fresh pile of puke....obviously from someone on an unlimited drinks package.

The staff are always quick to clean up those types of incidences.

Anyways, I was up early and went to the gym to work out. John and I have also been very determined to always take the stairs. With 16 floors, I've been easily taking more than 10000 steps every day....yes I brought my pedometer.

John and I decided to miss the 9am breakfast rush and grabbed our shaded deck chairs and ate later. Shortly after breakfast it started to pour and remained drizzly and foggy for the rest of the day. That was fine because we were sheltered in the solarium by the pool and there is never a shortage of things to do on the ship.

John and I grabbed a nap in the afternoon so that I could stay awake for the night life.

It was 70s night. After supper we went onto the Royal Promenade which is like a big street with shops, bars and restaurants on both sides, a small stage in the middle and even a Starbucks.  People were all over the street dancing to the DJs selections from the 70s. Things started to heat up even more when some of the cast from Mama Mia performed more 70's favorites. Suddenly a big sculpture about 20 feet above the floor opened up and unrolled a big metal stage/ bridge above the crowds. Our cruise director dressed in John Travolta's famous white suit came out dancing to Saturday Night Fever. He was a great dancer. Then dancers with Afros showed up all over the place, tossing out light up  glasses, rings and necklaces. The crowd went crazy. Then well toned Village People look a likes took to the stage. The crowd went totally mad. The Village People then got people into a Congo line dancing to "Love Train." So much going on...we didn't know where to look.

After the dance party/ show ended, John and I continued dancing to a live band playing 70s music at Dazzles dance club.

This was the best cruise ship party that I have ever attended. Out of all the cruises John and I have been on, Royal Caribbean has the best entertainment and parties and they offer something for everyone.

I was up bright and early the next day when we docked in Falmouth, Jamaica. It was still overcast. 

The sun came out as we negotiated with a cab driver to take us out all day. He was great. In case anyone is going to Jamaica, here is his info. He can be booked ahead of time. Jamaica Tour Services, Cassel Haughton www.jamaicatourservices.com 

We went first to my top tour priority; Rose Hall. This plantation great house was built in the mid 1700's. In the 1800s a women named Annie Parsons became the plantations second mistress when she married its rich owner. She had been brought up by her Nannie who had instructed her in witchcraft and voodoo. She was cruel to the slaves and became known as the white witch. She took on slave lovers and then would have them killed off, she poisoned her first husband, stabbed another and also murdered her third. She would have her slaves take the bodies to be buried near the sea side and then had other slaves kill the first slaves so that they couldn't tell. At age 29, she was in love with a slave who loved another. She killed her competition and then her love interest later strangled her. Then someone killed that slave. There was much celebrating on the plantation at her death and most of her pictures and personal effects were destroyed at that time. There remains one childhood picture of her. The painted eyes give the illusion that they are following you.

Needless to say, many people believe the plantation is haunted.

It was an expensive visit ($20 US per person) but the house and grounds ( the White Witch is still buried there) were gorgeous.

We next stopped at a place for a gorgeous view before checking out St James Parish church in Montego Bay. Our next destination was another Great house that was made into a hotel with a lovely outside lounging area and another outstanding view.

Cassel took us to a seaside restaurant called Pier One where we had lunch before driving through Hip Street to a private beach.

It was a dash to get back to the cruise terminal. The traffic around the terminal was bumper to bumper and there was a huge lineup to go through security to get on board.

John and I grabbed deck chairs and watched the ship depart.

It was formal night and all you can eat lobster tail night in the dining room. There were other choices for those not in to Lobster. The man beside us ate five lobster tails.

John and I checked out the dancing fountains show before heading to the accapella show and I finally calling it a night.

Cozumel

We slept in till 8am. I was sore from my abs workout the day before.

The ship was already docked in Cozumel.. The last time I was here, I was with Mom.

On board, John and I went to the Windjammer for breakfast and then had a leisurely game of mini putt before checking on our boys. Shockingly, they were ready to go on shore.

We rented a car and explored the island. It's not a large island and only takes about  an hour without stopping to circumnavigate.

We stopped at the small town of El Cedral to check out some very small ruins before driving to the other side of the island.

This part of the island was much less touristed, not built up and had a crashing surf of waters that ranged in colours from a fresh aqua marine to vibrant turquoise to cobalt blue ending with a royal blue on the horizon. I have never seen such beautifully shaded water. This will be the picture in my mind if I ever decide to meditate.

We stopped at a surfside local restaurant that was pricier than I expected, but that was ok cause the view was worth it. John, Graham and I each had a beer but Cameron had a fancy drink that came in a humongous glass. I tasted it, it was quite weak. The food was mediocre, but the view.......

There was a large statue of a Mayan warrior in the restaurant. Someone had put a BBQ apron over his privates. I walked closer to read the inscription . It said " I'm shy but I have a big dick".  Suddenly the apron flies up and a big schlong bolts out. I screeched in surprise to the delight of a group of locals who were laughing it up at the bar. It was only then that I noticed the almost invisible fishing line attached to the hem of the apron. I have no doubt that the guys at the bar held the other end. With the curtain call over, the apron once again closed, covering its surprise for the next unsuspecting tourist.

We next stopped to walk along St Martin beach. The sand was fine and colored the lightest shade of beige, a perfect foil for the gorgeous colours of the ocean.

The weather was incredibly hot.

Once again in the car, our explorations lead us to the larger ruins of San Gervasio. They were neat, not any where as extensive as Tulum or Chichen Itza but still very cool.

The iguanas hung around the ruins like dogs basking in the sun. We also saw some Coati, which are like raccoons but with long pointy noses.

We are now back on the ship, waiting to cast off to our next destination. It was a pretty low key evening because we were pooped from our day.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas

We are now floating along somewhere in the Caribbean.

The day before we left, while I was bending down, my dog Molly jumped up and banged me full force in the nose. I was positive I felt it crack. After all the maintenance I did on myself for this cruise, a broken nose and two black eyes would not be a good look. I was relieved to see that my nose wasn't swollen or my eyes blackened.

Our Niagara, USA to Fort Lauderdale flight was delayed and didn't leave till 4:10am and arrived in Florida shortly before 7am. Needless to say, we didn't get a lot of sleep.

We rented a car and spent the morning picking up some wine and pop before driving to Fort Lauderdale beach for a walk. It was in the 80s and sunny.

After dropping off the car we boarded the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas; the worlds second largest operating cruise ship which accommodates 5,400people at double capacity with a maximum of 6,496 passengers. It has 16 decks, a couple of rock climbing walls, a couple flow riders ( surfing pools), a zip line, mini putt, basketball court and an ice rink. Not to mention a Central Park replica that makes you feel like you are on land...they even pipe in bird song in the daytime and cricket song at night! You forget you are on a ship.

The spa area was nice but not as outstanding as the one we went to with mom on the Costa cruise. Probably for the best though, because I was told that saunas would make the glue for my mink eyelash extensions deteriorate quicker....and I had those extensions put on deliberately for this trip.

After exploring the ship and watching it leave port, we took much needed naps before heading to an 8pm supper. The food was fine, nothing outstanding but still good. 

We kept ourselves awake in order to make our reservation for the Ocean Aria water show. I cannot believe the height the divers were jumping from...the pool underneath must be very deep. The acrobatics were amazing.

We slept like  babies.

Yesterday was a day at sea. I was up at 7am for the morning stretch class which was followed by the abs class. My abs are rather tender today. After a buffet breakfast in the Windjammer marketplace , we payed claim to our lounge chairs in the adult only solarium on the sun deck. I checked out a talk on detoxing in the spa and joined John for lunch at the Windjammer again.

In the afternoon we had reserved tickets to the Broadway musical, Mama Mia. This was the third company I've seen perform it and I think it was the best. 

After showering and changing ( it was formal night), we had reserved tickets to the ice show. I am so impressed with the quality of the entertainment on this ship.

We were 20 minutes late for our supper but all was good. We are not sharing a table with anyone but our own family. They are preparing Grahams meals separately because of his allergies.

We had reservations for the midnight stand up comedy show but I was so tired that Graham, John and I stood in the standby line for the 10:30 show. We got in. It was hilarious but part way through I started to doze off....John kept nudging me because we didn't want the comedian to notice and use it as material for his program.

We called it a night after the show.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

San Jose del Cabo- days 8 and 9




Day 8

We got up early and went to the beach at 6:15 to watch the sun rise. We noticed what looked like  tiny shark fins gathering in the water along the shoreline. They turned out to be stingrays.

We were mesmerized as they playfully jumped and frolicked in the waves. One of them jumped so high, I could see his fins joyfully flapping in the air. He literally seemed to be in flight before gravity forced him to delve back into the ocean. They only stayed for about an hour after dawn.

Not much else to report. We basically spent the rest of the day doing yoga and relaxing around the pool.

Lara left for home in the evening.

Day 9

video
Today is my sisters actual birthday. We went to the beach again just before dawn. Once again, the stingrays showed up just before sunrise and played for about an hour  before leaving again. This time I managed to get a video of one of the rays mid flight. You can see the jump half way through the above video.

We had a relaxed birthday breakfast on our patio overlooking the golf course.

Antonio and Sarah dropped in for a visit and to say goodbye. We loved staying at their condo. This location was perfect; a short walk to the beach in a gated community of the more relaxed San Jose del Cabo  area and about a thirty minute walk to the old town. Best of all, we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Antonio, Sarah and their mother, Sarah.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

San Lucas del Cabo and San Jose del Cabo- Day 7


What an amazing day.

It was cool when we left to catch the bus into San Lucas at 6:20am. It takes between half an hour and fifty minutes ( depending on traffic and stops) to travel by bus between San Jose and San Lucas.

We arrive at Cabo Expeditions, the Kayak and snorkel tour company, in plenty of time for our 8am tour.

We took a boat part way to the lands end rocks where we got into our glass bottom kayaks. Cheryl and Lara shared a kayak and being a single, I went with the guide, Carlos. 

I loved kayaking near the rock where the local sea lion colony basked in the sun. At one point, a couple of sea lions swam along side our kayak.


The snorkeling was wonderful. It was delightful to swim through a large school of tropical fish and I felt like I was in a freshly poured glass of ginger ale when I swam over a number of scuba divers letting off bubbles on the sea floor below.


There was a lot to see in the magical world below the waves. So many different kinds of fish including brightly colored parrot fish, black and white puffer fish, cobalt blue damsel fish, thousands of wrasses, moorish idols, Sargent fish and some kind of trigger fish....and those were just the ones I recognized. Awesome.

The water was in the 70s so I was quite cold by the time it came to return to the boat.

We stopped at our favourite family run taco restaurant called Gardenias. It was delicious and well priced. I could see why they've been in business for over twenty years.


After returning to our condo, we rested by the pool until we headed out for my sister's 60th birthday dinner. We booked reservations at La Panga restaurant in the old town.




We stopped first to pick up Cheryl's ring from Johnathon Sanchez, where we shared a glass of aged tequila with the jeweller before heading to La Panga.

The open air restaurant was oozing with atmosphere. Plants and decor were artfully lit and the food was delightful. I especially recommend the ceviche and sea bass. This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and the perfect way to celebrate Cheryl's milestone birthday.

Monday, January 16, 2017

San Jose del Cabo- Day 6 Beach Day and Art Walk


It was a leisurely day for us. We exercised and then enjoyed massages on the beach.  

When walking through town, I get a kick out of the pharmacy signs that are always posted in front of the store listing their most popular drugs....Viagra is always in the top billings.


In the evening we walked into the old town for the weekly Art Walk where artists and galleries offer tequila and wine in their stores as you check out their creations.

Locals and tourists pack the streets for this event. Music immediately drew us to the central area where we watched a few different groups of folk dancers.

Of course we had to check out many of the original, fine quality, handcrafted jewelry shops. While sipping on wine, Cheryl bought a stunning aquamarine ring at the talented Johnathon Sanchez's shop.

Especially enjoyable was the Frank Arnold Gallery where we were given the choice of either unique pomegranate or almond tequila. The gallery is part of the artists house which we were invited to tour. It was a decorators dream with its stunning architecture, beautiful chandeliers and unique detailing. I enjoyed the house just as much as the art work. The artist and his wife were both there. This is a definite must, if you do the art walk.


I also enjoyed the Ivan Guaderrama interactive art gallery on A. Obregon. This gallery was so much fun.  Different things would happen when you touch certain parts of the artwork. For example, there was a painting of a piano that actually played when you touch the keys or bulbs that lit up on a piece of art when you touched the heat sessor. There were also sounds or lights that would come on when you held hands with someone and both touched the artwork at the same time. There was even artwork that animated with the use of an app on your cell phone. Very original, very innovative and very fun.


With tired and sore feet, we made our way back to the condo at the end of the night.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Whales, Orcas, Sea Lions and Sea Turtles- Day 5


 
As usual, I was up before dawn.

Shortly after sunrise, Lara and I left the condo. Although her initial plan was to go for a run, she joined me instead for a long walk on the beach.

The waves crashed along the shore as we walked along the edge of the estuary. The estuary is home to numerous local sea birds and ducks.

After a big breakfast and quick light lunch, Cheryl, Lara and I made our way to the bus and headed to Cabo San Lucas for our zodiac boat whale watching tour with Whale Watch Cabo.
I was thankful to be offered a gravol since I tend to get sea sick easily. It was a huge help and I felt fine for the whole excursion.

Our excursion was awesome. We saw many humpback whales breaching and fluke flapping. However, the highlight was the pod of Orcas that skimmed the ocean with their shiny black and white skins glistening in the sunlight.

Our guide Paola, from Spain, informed us that Orcas are not whales, they are the largest species of dolphins. Paola was so excited because Orcas are a rare sighting in these waters.

At one point, we found a sea turtle. I was surprised how far from land he was swimming, but apparently it is quite normal.  Paola said that usually sea turtles are quite shy and disappear quickly when a boat is nearby, but this guy didn't appear to be bothered.
The speed of the zodiac when on open waters was exhilarating. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip with Whale Watch Cabo and highly recommend them. This company without extra charge sent the excellent pictures that they took, directly to our email. 

We walked around the marina and had a light supper at one of the restaurants before heading back on the bus.