Tuesday 16 April 2024

Trinadad - March 17

Although I didn't venture far from the ship in Trinidad, it turned out to be a very interesting day.

The port in Port of Spain in Trinidad is clearly used more for an industrial port.

We weren't however, the only sea faring tourists in town that day. I hadn't realized until I was reviewing photos that the Royal Clipper was docked there too.

I noted this interesting building in the distance and after an internet search, determined it is the National Acadamy for Performing Arts.

I also learned the building was opened in 2009, and contains "a 1500 seat theatre, dance room, piano room, sound lab, a lobby, a hotel, and a spacious auditorium". 

In the other direction there were a number of tall buildings. The green building in the center is the Goverment Campus Plaza, housing four government ministries, including Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise, National Security Immigration, and the Attorney General and Legal Affairs. On the left is the Radisson Hotel. I was unable, however to identify the black building on the right.

After taking my photos (Deck 16) and breakfast (Deck 15 aft), I headed down to Deck 7 Promenade to watch my fellow passengers disembark and the entertainment provided by the locals. 

About 10 a.m., I left the ship and spent a little over an hour on shore in the port area. I was able to use the WiFi to connect with D and then did some shopping. I picked up a t-shirt for Eli, pepper sauce for my son C, and some pain relief salve for myself. It was made by a local woman. It smells lovely, and seems to work well.

Back on ship, I spent a good portion of the afternoon on the Promenade Deck reading and watching the activity off the side of the ship. At one point, an ambulance rolled up to pick up a passenger from the medical center. It took some time for the attendants (both ship and ambulance personnel) to bring the patient out to the waiting ambulance. As they were loading him, the stretcher collapsed dropping the patient (still on the stretcher, thankfully) to the ground. He was clearly conscious and appeared quite shaken but they had him loaded shortly and left the port area. Poor guy!

Later, I headed out to the pool before showering and changing for dinner. Before the solo meet-up we had sail-away so I went back to Deck 7 for that. However, we were delayed as yet another passenger was being transported to hospital by ambulance. I didn't wait to see who was being brought off the ship, instead I went to meet the solo group.

Monica, one of the solo group, shared with us her experience in Trinidad. She had been battling a bit of a cold and run out of cough medicine. There was nothing in the port area, so she had gone across the pedestrian crossing to the city where she found a farmacia. As she left the store she saw a church across the way, and was making her way towards it when a police officer stopped her and told her to return to the port area. She noticed a couple from the ship were heading in the same direction but were not stopped.

Later that afternoon she ran into them again and learned that they had visited the church, before venturing further down the street. On their way back to the ship, they suddenly heard gun shots and the police quickly sent them on their way. They posted on FB saying, "Two shots rang out, I heard the pops then "zing" go by. , I yelled "Gun!" and ducked behind a concrete trash can. Several more shots." They went on to say, that it did not appear that anyone was injured. But I can tell you, their experience made me appreciate my quiet afternoon on the ship.

Sunset that evening appeared in a hazy sky

The following day was a sea day, primarily spent reading or crocheting, with a little time in the pool. 

Next up - Aruba

Sunday 14 April 2024

Move update

The last several days have become a blur in my mind but I'll give you an overview. Wednesday was possession day, I was in the city so D met the realtor at the house at noon to get the keys. She had picked up Eli at school for lunch so he was able to see his new home as well. When he went back to school that afternoon, she packed more boxes and brought a couple of loads of items to the new house. I had an easy day, since I was almost completely packed - just those last few personal items and some food; I had a nice afternoon visiting with the ladies at stitch and chat.

Thursday was my moving day. I loaded my car with most of the items I was taking with me before the movers arrived. They arrived at 9 a.m. and by 9:20 everything was loaded and they were leaving the driveway. They had two pieces of furniture to take from the house, and about 50 boxes in the garage and a few other garden items. Their response on seeing the boxes and items in the garage was, this is so well organized! They stopped for gasoline on their way to D's, while I finished packing the food before I headed out. At the other end, the unpacking of the load was quick as well, and they were away from here before noon. 

D and I spent the afternoon moving boxes out of the dining room and unpacking what we could. We are leaving the craft room to the last. This photo was after her boxes had arrived.

The local mover advised he wouldn't be available until 2 p.m. on Friday, which turned out to be a blessing. D and I spent that morning, closing and taping boxes, moving small pieces of furniture and the boxes from the upstairs to the living and dining room area. After lunch, we had run a couple of errands and returned to the old house and found the movers there around 1 p.m. They were excited to see the boxes with handles (U-haul) and that they were all piled in one room.  The movers filled one smaller van with furniture, the other with boxes. They did have to return to pick-up the couch as there wasn't quite enough room with the rest of the furniture. While they were finishing the unloading, D picked up Eli after school. In total, I think it took about 3 hours to complete the move. Then we sat and stared at the boxes.

Moving is hard work, and hard on my old body. D has been doing a fair amount of the heavy lifting, and I unpack. I did manage to kick a piece of furniture (don't ask me which one) and broke a toe on my right foot. My left foot got banged up too when I dropped a box. D, on the other hand, has bruises on her legs. Both of us are feeling the bending, lifting, and stretching in our backs. Robaxcet is our friend.

We've had a couple of hiccups - I tried to light the pilot light on the hot water heater but it would not stay lit. Then we discovered that the cold water taps had no running water. A call to the plumber had the water heater pilot lit and the proper turn off valves turned on to get the cold water running. I've never lived in a house that had several shut off valves (all in the basement). Unfortunately the water heater did not continue to work, so the plumber was out again that evening. Apparently the control panel died (which I assume is some sort of computer thingy as almost everything now has to be digital). He ordered the part and will be back tomorrow to replace it.

Thankfully, we still have the old house to return to, as we managed to get only enough hot water for me to do dishes and shower, and to give Eli a bath. Meanwhile we've been doing laundry at the old house as the washing machine here would not drain with the first load. The plumber will look at this too. When she goes over to change loads, D has been showering there too. 

The last hiccup was also plumbing related. When D was a child, she used to think that anyone who had a fridge that had the water and ice maker on it was wealthy. Well, this fridge has these functions, however we woke on Saturday morning to water leaking from a pipe for the fridge water in the basement (thankfully just in the laundry area.) There was no water on the kitchen floor so I'm hopeful it's just a pipe that needs re-soldering. The plumber is the one that installed the water line so I expect he'll be able to repair it easily too.

We're still living with boxes and tubs and our bed frames are in the process of being built. Sunday morning, D and I put mine together, and partially built Eli's trundle bed. We discovered that there were no pre-drilled holes for the slats, so that meant another trip to Canadian Tire for a drill. I'm sure they are happy to see us come through the door as we've had to pick up a number of items (some needed, some wanted). 

Eli has a opthamologist appointment in the city tomorrow, and a dental appointment in the next door community on Tuesday. While I'll be going to the city with them, I'll stay behind on Tuesday, and hopefully get started on the cleaning of the old house to prep for painting. No, I am not doing the painting! I met with the painter this morning, and tentatively scheduled the job for the beginning of May. We still have to get the handyman in to do some patching of cracks and repairs to the ceilings...long story.

I'm hoping things will start to slow down in a day or two, as I could use a break. 

But on a more positive note, spring has arrived!

It's time for lunch, then back to bed building. The battery should be charged.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Grenada - March 16


We docked in St. Georges in Grenada about 6:45 a.m. As you can see it was hazy, with the remnants of the clouds coming over the island. I was awake as we docked, and after showering and dressing I was heading to the buffet for breakfast. I realized I'd forgotten my phone in the stateroom so turned around to retrieve it. I also took the opportunity to add a pair of bicycle shorts as it was gusty on deck and I'd nearly had a couple of Marilyn Monroe moments during my walk across the ship. 

I made my way off the ship about 8:30 a.m., and with free WiFi was able to make a short call to D, check my Facebook and e-mail. Our driver, Clint, started to load his van of 12 passengers about 9:15 a.m. Clint drove us up, up and up circling around a deep valley. (Sorry, I was in the middle of the van and unable to capture a photo out the window.) Along the way, he pointed out places of interest, including the schools he had attended, and answered questions about the island. He was very entertaining and one heck of a driver!

About 20 minutes later, we arrived up a very steep driveway to the Great House, at Tower Estate. The house was a gift of C. F. Renwick to his English bride and built in 1913. Our guide informed us it was made in an effort to entice the woman to stay in Grenada. However, Renwick was both a womanizer and a gambler, and his wife eventually left him and returned to England. The house was later sold to the Slinger family in the mid 30's. The family still owns the property and live in the third story. The second story is open to the public, for tours and other events, while the first story is rented out. 

Our tour started with some information about the house and then moved into the gardens. These were a highlight of the tour, as our guide showed us the various plants, flowers, and trees. There were familiar to me as houseplants including wandering Jew, Boston and Asparagus ferns. The familiar Caribbean flowers including bougainvillea, frangipani, and ginger lilies. Others were new to me and so fun to see.

This plant, a crown of thorns, was aptly name. The flowers were pretty, the thorns not so much.

This was set in a container on the steps leading up to the side door of the house.

In front of the house, the flower bed included several bougainvillea, as well as this healthy croton variety. 

I'm sure I've seen this at garden centers for use as a houseplant in our climate. None nearly as tall as this particular specimen!

The photo I shared a couple of weeks ago of the pink bougainvillea was in this area too. Here's another photo of a more vibrantly colored flower.

Although it looks very much like a bird of paradise, this particular variety is known as a false bird of paradise. There was another similar flower called the lobster claw, and the actual bird of paradise.

These were ginger lillies in red, pink and this striking yellow.

Here is a flower that ought to be familiar to many, especially in the spring. It is a variety of iris. 

The most interesting plant, at least to me in the garden was the asparagus fern. Not because I haven't seen them in the past, but because of the berries. Those I've never seen before.

There were many trees as well, including Norwich pine, Mahogany trees, and Royal Palms.  The gardens are also home to various plants and herbs used to make the teas that are served at events held in the house. The blue tea, made from the butterfly pea flower is the most popular.

After our garden tour, we were invited into the house (second floor) for a cold juice (no tea) and the granddaughter of the original Slinger offered information on the house and it's former owners. 

I didn't stay long, but wandered off to see other parts of the house.

The dining room would hold a large group for a meal or afternoon tea.

My favorite room, though, was this office that contained a collection of trophies. Most were related to tennis, though there were a few for water sports. The windows looked out to the front of the house, and I could imagine sitting in the room reading.

From the Tower Estate, Clint drove us down, down, down, with a stop at a no longer working rum factory. It was an interesting place, but the interior had me on edge as the second story floor had a bounce to it. I was glad to get out of there. Those who chose to do so, could sample the wares at the store. 

Back at port, I stopped in the market and picked up a bottle of cinnamon for D. I probably paid too much (though I did get it for less than the first price offered), but by this point I was tired and reading to get back on board the ship. I did make one more stop to listen to the steel band. You can listen to the video here - there were several moments of videobombing.

I spent the afternoon by the Terrace pool, sometimes in the water, and mostly reading. The day in Grenada was wonderful and the gardens at Tower Estates were certainly a highlight of the entire cruise.

Next up - Trinidad

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Barbados - March 15


No sunrise photos from Barbados as I woke just as the ship was docking. I had time for a quick shower and breakfast before heading off ship for my excursion. I've been to Barbados three times before, and usually stayed close to the port area in the town or beach area. This time, I went further afield to visit the Andromeda Botanical gardens. 

The drive out to the gardens was nearly an hour, with a stop at Bathsheba beach for a photo opportunity and use of the facilities. We were only allowed about 10 minutes there, and I wished it would have been longer.

This rock reminded me of the flower pot rocks at Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. It's amazing what the sea can do as it crashes against the rocks.

On the eastern shore of Barbados, Bathsheba Beach is considered a surfer's paradise. I was only able to watch this fellow make one run.

It was a beautiful spot, and though I likely wouldn't have gone in the water, more time there would have been great. 

It was a short drive from the beach to the gardens. Andromeda Botanic Gardens were created by Iris Bannochie, a horticulturalist in 1954. When she passed away, she bequeathed the property to the Barbados National Trust. According to the website, there are 600 plant species over 8 acres. Our guide advised to stay on the marked path as one could easily get lost among the lush plants. I wandered off on my own, and though I strayed a little bit, I did find my way back to the main building ahead of the rest of the tour group. 

Here are a few of the photos from my wander.

Ginger lily

Frangipani - the aroma of the flowers is incredible

Chenille plant

Peacock flower

I stopped for several minutes in this area. The palm trees were magnificent. I did wish there was a bench where one could sit and enjoy the sounds of the birds.

I wonder if the fish were hoping someone would toss them some food.

There was a bridge over the pond but it was closed for repairs.

Back at the main building, I waited on a bench with another couple I'd met previously. They were on the catamaran cruise in St. Kitt's. (That's our bus in the corner of the parking lot).

After the restroom and shopping was done, we boarded the bus for the hour drive back to the port. As we were pulling out a wedding party arrived for photos. The wee flower girl couldn't have been more than two years old.

At one point in the drive, a green monkey was standing on the road ahead of us. I wasn't able to capture a photo as it moved quickly into the thick brush and trees beside the road. 

While the gardens were lovely, and Bathsheba Beach had the wow factor, the excursion was somewhat disappointing. With ten minutes at the beach and only an hour at the gardens, most of our time was spent on the bus. Our guide was very good at pointing out places of interest, she wasn't able to answer many questions. 

Back in port, I did a bit of wandering through the shops picking up some hot sauce for my son, and stopped to enjoy some people watching and a small bowl of ice cream (strawberry shortcake). It was delicious!

My treat didn't spoil my appetite for an early dinner. It was Indian/British theme night in the buffet. One thing that Princess ships do well is Indian food and this evening was not a disappointment. 

I popped on Deck 15 aft for this photo as we sailed away from Barbados. 

Despite the time on the bus, I did enjoy our time in Barbados and at the gardens. If there is another next time on the island, I'll find an excursion closer to the port.

Next up - Grenada

Monday 8 April 2024

Martinique - March 14

Welcome to Martinique! This is one of my favorite islands to visit in the Caribbean, as there is so much to see and do, both in the port and around the island. 

We had a bit of rain, followed by a rainbow, prior to reaching our berth, but the day promised to be hot (95F/35C) and it did reach that temperature. 

Again, I had no excursion planned here, but planned to do a wander around the city and perhaps a little shopping. 

I believe this is the Royal Clipper ship docked next to us. (I neglected to get a photo of the ship's name). It carries 227 passengers and 106 crew. Compare that to the 3080 passengers and 1200 crew on the Ruby Princess.

I was off the ship by 8:30 a.m. My first destination was La Savane Park in Fort-de-France. I was looking for the headless statue of Josephine Bonaparte. I know, I know, I'm weird. The statue was installed in the park in 1859 and in 1991 the statue was "beheaded" and splattered with red paint. Martinique is part of the French Republic and the outermost region of the European Union. Thus, the primary language is French and the currency is euros. I came prepared with some of the euros, though not as prepared with the French language skills. Un petit peu, seulement. 

The park was oceanside and a short walk of ten minutes or so from the downtown. I wasn't successful in finding the statue though as I didn't veture to the far end of the park. 

On my way back to the city center, I decided to stop in at a store and purchase a baseball cap as the heat of the day was ramping up and the sun was hot on my head. In addition, the store offered free WiFi, so I took advantage of that too. D and Eli had an appointment in the city and I wanted to check in with her before she left home. Eli was having some issues with the medication he had been prescribed for the seizures, however the pediatric neurologist in Saskatoon wasn't able to see him yet, so the neuroligist in Regina agreed to see him. This doctor doesn't generally work with children but a med change was indicated. He's now on another prescription and I'm happy to say he's doing much better.

Back to Martinique; I wandered downtown looking for the bookstore where I had purchased a book for Eli on an earlier trip. Like the statue, I couldn't find what I was looking for but there was more to see and do regardless.

This is St. Louis Cathedral (it is featured in the first photo as well). The cathedral was completed in 1895 in the Romanesque Revival style. There was a service being held at this time, so I didn't enter the church.

Across from the cathedral is a small park. This allamanda cathartica or golden trumpet was blooming beautiful! I had to stop and enjoy the beauty. I've since learned that I can purchase this as an annual for my garden containers. I'm sure it won't grow nearly as big and bushy for me here. I'll be looking for it at the nursery later this spring.

Beyond the park is a building that captures the cathedral in its windows. 

I wandered through the market vendors and found a street vendor selling fresh squeezed juice. With a glass of grape, watermelon and mango juice, I settled in at a table and watched people go by. 

I did chuckle at the sight of the KFC store, it seems to be a staple in the islands.

Feeling refreshed and well hydrated, I headed off to walk about more. No luck still in finding the bookstore, but I did find a fabric store.

Oh, if only I were talented enough to sew well. The fabrics were gorgeous - and I ought to have taken a photo of the interior. I was looking for a crochet hook and decided a fabric store might very well carry them - and it did! I had thought, being as port heavy as this cruise was, that I wouldn't have time to work on a small project so hadn't brought yarn or a crochet hook with me. However, the sea days at the beginning of the cruise reminded me I like to have something in my hands to work on. I'd found some cotton yarn in the dollar store in Fort Lauderdale, but no crochet hook. It was in this store that my lack of French was obvious. However, the clerk and I managed through pantomine and a few words to find what I was looking for. 

I took a bit of time to wander through the open air market, but bought nothing there.

Look at the size of the melon slices!

There were tables of souveniers available too, and while I loved the colors, nothing said take me home.

You could not convince me to drive on these streets. They are incredibly narrow and with pedestrians walking about, it would be a nightmare (at least for me)
I much preferred those streets that appeared to limit vehicular traffic. After my walk-about, I decided it was time to head back to the ship for a late lunch, some reading in the shade and a short nap.

From this perspective it appears the clipper ship's masts are almost as tall as the Ruby. 

The clipper left port before we did, and very shortly had its sails up.

If I ever won a lottery, I think I'd really enjoy an opportunity to sail on one of these ships. On the other hand, I've never experienced seasickness on the large ships - I'm not so certain I'd be as lucky on such a small one. 

It was a wonderful day in Martinique. The weather was simply incredible (and hot!). I spent much of the day off ship just enjoying the atmosphere of Fort-de-France. Everyone I met and spoke with were friendly, even when there was some difficulty in understanding one another. 

Next up - Barbados