A Travellerspoint blog

Second Sea Dayto Santos

Sunday, 15 February 2015


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Calm seas and a balmy breeze made for pleasant walking on Deck 19 as I observed the various stages of the sunrise. The colours faded quickly over just a few minutes. After meeting Jenny for breakfast we embarked on another busy sea-day.

The first event was the Culinary Demonstration in the Theatre. The ingredients and recipes are the same on just about every cruise but the interplay between the presenters make for interesting variations. The Executive Chef and the Maitre d'Hotel had each spent over 25 years aboard Princess ships. They had obviously worked together before and gave a very entertaining performance. We didn't join the crowd on the galley tour, one galley is pretty much like another.

Staying in the Theatre we listened to the lecture by Robert Turner who presented his final lecture touching on the subject of cosmology and also the Higgs Boson. Once again providing a wealth of information and introducing us to 'dark matter' and even 'dark energy' to add to all the other particles and forces of the natural world.

The Theatre was filled to bursting for the Destination Presentation on Rio de Janeiro by Hutch. His overriding message was that we were entering vast city with questionable 'safety' standards at a time when there are thousands of additional people visiting for Carnival. The petty crime rate is expected to be high and we need to be vigilant. Once again he drifted off target by spending a lot of time on events that we won't be seeing because they've already happened, won't happen until after we sail or have been booked out for many months. I think he likes the sound of his own voice a bit too much. Many people drifted off to sleep or left during the presentation.

Jenny stayed to reserve the seats while I ducked down to the International Cafe for some snacks, it had been over six hours without sustenance. Along with about half the theatre we awaited the start of the movie, "Boyhood" staring Ellar Coltrane and Patricia Arquette. We lasted all of 15 minutes and couldn't imagine where it was headed for the next two and a half hours so we left.

Back in the cabin I had great intentions to start composing this epistle by succumbed to weariness, dropped off to sleep and didn't wake until 1700 to get ready for dinner. Mary and Donald didn't put in an appearance, Mary had told us that Donald wasn't feeling well. The menu contained numerous great choices and we both selected items that met our expectation. The dessert choices were also fantastic, one of the best meals yet.

After dinner off to the Theatre again to listen to Greg Scott. What an amazing talent. He played classical violin on a 200 year old instrument that was on loan to him. He appeared a humble person and paid great tribute to the seven members of the backing orchestra. His range of music showcased the versatility of his instrument, from classic to jazz, movie themes to musicals he covered them all. The Hungarian gypsy piece received a standing ovation. People we spoke to after the show agreed that you'd pay $150 a ticket to attend a concert as good as that ashore.

Tomorrow we're in Santos with no firm plans and no tour booked.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 15:34 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

En route to Santos

Saturday, 14 February 2015


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A great sunrise this morning to mark the arrival of Valentine's Day. I'm not much of a romantic so the day has very little meaning. After taking photos of the sunrise I joined the group of men who gather in the early morning for a coffee and a chat. Many in-depth topics are discussed and some profound conclusions reached. I think it could be accurately titled the BS Corner.

Joined Jenny for breakfast and after a scrub and a change of clothes started for the Theatre. The schedule started with a Destination Lecture by Hutch on the port of Santos. This was followed by the lecture by Captain Vincent Williams on the subject of Piracy and Ship Security. The frequency of pirate incidents is in decline largely due to naval patrols by a number of Western Navies and a change of policy in China. There was some mention of the French Solution, the French have a low tolerance for piracy. Without providing specific information he explained the financing and profitability of running a cruise ship. Much of the profit is derived from the incidental activities such as the casino, the boutiques, the spa and markups on shore excursions.

This was followed by the lecture by Robert Turner who presented a wealth of scientific data which debunked any concept of visits to any other likely star. The distances are such that it would take multiple generations even at speeds reaching light-speed. There was a short break to grab a snack before the Afternoon Movie. We found 'Jersey Boys' to be well acted, informative and entertaining. Much of the music and singing by Frankie Valley was recognisable and a pleasure to listen to.

Up to the cabin to put on the Formal gear for dinner tonight. Lobster tails and king prawns were perfectly prepared and presented, Jenny chose a delicious beef Wellington. The service was slick and we were able to make the stage production show "Once Upon a Dream" at 1900. With a Captain's Cocktail party scheduled for the same time there were plenty of empty seats. The show was far better than we expected and certainly a number of notches up from the last previous we'd attended.

Tomorrow we have the second of two sea-days on our way to Santos

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 14:50 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Eventful Day in Salvador

Friday, 13 February 2015


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Up early this morning for our arrival in Salvador and we were rewarded with a dramatic sunrise. There was some initial confusion when it rose over the land and the land was expected to be to the West. The city is located on a peninsula and we were located in a large bay to the West.
Breakfast completed and we left the ship through a very modern and obviously just completed terminal building. Outside the building we met up with my sister, Johanna, who lives not far from Salvador, she had offered to be our local guide. We exchanged some US$ to local currency and she smartly loaded us onto a local bus. Told us to just get aboard as there is no need for 'Seniors' to pay. The first destination was the community where she first lived 22 years ago. It is a centre dedicated to the rehabilitation of homeless people who live in an abandoned church and a number of small cottages built in the church grounds. Johanna was warmly welcomed and there were introductions made in a mixture of French, Portuguese and English.

Back onto another bus and a walk through one of the local markets where Jenny and I were amazed at the variety and quantity of fresh produce available. Many were familiar but there were quite a few that even stumped Johanna. We walked past the fish market to catch another bus and were surprised to see large whole fish packed into tubs with a minimal amount of ice. These tubs we carried down to the bus stop and loaded aboard when the bus arrived.

Back to the Tourist area where there was great activity involved in the preparation for Carnival events. There was an obvious police presence in numbers we've not previously seen since our visit to Egypt back in 2010. The area was kept clean by an army of street sweepers in stark contrast to most of the areas away from this 'Tourist Area'.

We walked along increasingly narrower streets but despite Johanna's warnings to take care I was taken by surprise when a young man who appeared to be drunk staggered into me and almost knocked me over. We had gone another 100 meters before I became aware that my 'smart phone' had been lifted. Considering the many places we've visited it is a 'small' incident overall. My main concern is that the SIM may be linked to my credit card and will automatically recharge at my cost.

We continued our exploration now more fully aware of the possible threat. We'd been told to try and not be noticeable as tourists. A bit difficult when the locals are a few shades darker, dress more casually and obviously know where they are going. Onto another bus to visit the interstate and intercity bus depot. From the size of the place it is obvious that buses are the dominant mode of public transport. Johanna explained that there are no trains and for the bulk of the people who don't own a car flying is not an option either.

While at this transport hub I decided to 'invest' in a US$50 phone. I'll need to down-load the user manual in English as the enclosed documentation is all in Portuguese. We left the bus terminal and crossed a number of major roads using the very crowded pedestrian overpasses. In addition to the many people using these overpasses the congestion was made worse by vendors displaying their wares on one side or the other and in many places both sides of the walkway.

Our destination proved to be an up-market shopping complex comprising many floors and hosting stores to cater for every need of modern living. We eventually found the 'food court' with a bewildering array of food outlets each almost equally crowded by queues of customers. Johanna checked out a number of them and with me 'guarding' the table the two women joined one of those queues. I was surprised when they returned far quicker than I had expected. It appears that in Brazil the elderly are provided with special priority and expedited service. The meals were quite large and relatively inexpensive at the equivalent of about US$10 each.

Onto another bus to take us back to the port. Travelling on these local buses was certainly an enlightening experience. There is no air-conditioning and when stopped at traffic lights they become extremely hot. Even with all the windows open the ambient temperature doesn't drop much. The seats are totally lacking in any form of upholstery and in combination with rough roads and only basic suspension make for a numbing experience. To add to the sense of excitement the drivers all drive at breakneck speeds and apply brakes with some vigour. The locals are totally oblivious to these conditions.

Back at the port we bade Johanna goodbye and returned to the cool comfort of the ship. My first priority being to confirm that the SIM was not linked to a credit card for automatic recharge. My next concern is the possible links to other accounts, passwords, contacts and web sites. I will check the Galaxy Web Site and see if there is some means of disabling the phone.

Can't be bothered changing for dinner so ate in the Horizon Court on Deck 15. One or two interesting dishes and some beautifully cooked garlic prawns. Caught sight of Mary and Donald also slumming on Deck 15. It will be a light night for the waiters in the Dinning Room.
A new entertainer tonight in the theatre, a comedian; Glenn Hirst. He's from New York originally and makes some really funny jokes from the way New Yorkers speak. He even managed to keep many of us awake. The WiFi is to be shut down tonight for maintenance, I hope it is a lot faster when it fires up. Such is the end of a very eventful day.

The clocks go forward another hour overnight and tomorrow we have the first of two sea-days on our way to Santos

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:13 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Sea-day Five of Five

Thursday, 12 February 2015


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Sunrise at 0522 this morning, interesting cloud formation but no great colour and for the first time the ship was heading due SouthWest and the sun rose on our port side. My regular vantage point didn't provide for any interesting foreground or silhouettes. With breakfast done by 0730 and I was on a quest to find out why the schedule for one of the ships was blanked out for most of Spring and Summer 2015. I sat outside Angela's office and found my answer from the one person whom I knew would have that answer. The ship has been 'leased' by Chinese interests for the duration. Interesting developments.

Following my usual sea-day routine and attended the first lecture by Robert Turner who showed and explained many of the amazing images from the 'Hubble' telescope. He pointed out that for every question answered by Hubble it gave rise to 10 new questions. The Universe is a truly amazing place.

Jenny attended a chocolate demonstration and went off to watch a movie on the stateroom TV while I listened to the lecture by Captain Vincent Williams on the subject of Salvage at Sea. In addition to some interesting legal considerations he gave a detailed description of a salvage operation he conducted. There were some tricky legal matters related to the illegal nature of the cargo ultimately involving some high level international interventions. One of his best ones.

Lunch in the Wheelhouse Bar was English Pub fare and proved to be very popular. Joined Jenny in the cabin and tried to catch up on some lost sleep. Not totally successful. Down to Deck 5 for the Princess Pop Choir performance. This group of passengers did an incredible job of singing some very popular tunes. Back up to change for dinner which was followed by another unbelievable performance by Mark Nizer the juggler. His skills as a juggler were almost eclipsed by his creative use of technology and lighting effects. Nothing short of amazing.
Tomorrow we dock in Salvador where we meet up with my sister Johanna.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:43 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Sea-day Four of Five

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


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A disappointing morning with no perceived sunrise and the breakfast failed to lift my spirits. After a change into day clothes we made our way down to the Theatre to await the first lecture by Robert Turner who explained the current scientific thinking on the formation of our solar system. He made the startling statement that any books on the subject that were more than five years old were wrong.

At 1115 the lecture by Captain Vincent Williams on the subject of "Carvaggio", his paintings and the women he used for his models. Many of his paintings were rejected when the results didn't suit the church hierarchy that commissioned them. A short break for a quick lunch before returning to the Theatre for the movie "The Judge" staring Robert Downey Jr. A long - 2 hr 24 min - powerful movie that was so well acted one could believe it was reality. The best movie so far on this cruise.

Returned to the cabin and decided on a quick photo mission. I visited Skywalkers Nightclub. Situated on Deck 18 Aft the nightclub is also used as a predinner drinks and canap├ęs venue for the most travelled of the passengers aboard. I captured some images and and created a collage.

Decided to have dinner in the Horizon Cafe and then went down to the Theatre to watch a repeat performance by Ric Steel, this show was significantly more upbeat than his previous one. Standing room only in the Theatre again !!

Tomorrow is another 'at sea' day as we continue South towards Salvador.

If you want to look at what I've been up to you can view my latest photo by following this link to the image for Today

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 16:22 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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