Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Land ho, the American suburbanite in Malaga

We arrived at our first port of call, Malaga, Spain. After listening to the ship's staff tell us all the reasons we should take one of their shore excursions, we headed into town on our own.

Within a few minutes we were at the public beach, no need for the shuttle service. I had mapped a preliminary route to the birth place of Picasso along the shore, past the bull ring (my views on this later) up the hill past the fort and castle, and back down to the Plazza de la Merced. Surprisingly enough, we followed the map and my ideal route past as many attractions as possible fairly well. Although we had a few confused moments (you know when your holding a map and turning it/yourself looking for street signs to attempt to get your bearings) we made it to everything on our list in decent time.

When satisfied we had seen as much of Malaga as we wanted, we strolled through a lovely park back to the beach. We put out my beach sheet and soaked up some rays for our last bit of time before heading back to the ship.

Taking extra caution, we left the beach with an hour together back on board. It was only a 10 minute walk back to the port security area, but I had fears of the snaked line to get through security being extremely crowded. There was also one other smaller cruise ship in port as well. Needless to say there was only one other group of people in front of us and we made it through in just a few minutes.

Since we were back on board with plenty of time to spare we headed up to the lawned deck to check out the Corning museum of glass show and sea how the turtle hatchling made the day before looked after coming out of the cooling oven.

Riding the waves of the Atlantic

Over the last day we have left the Bay of Biscay and rounded Portugal into the Atlantic. This morning we were probably off the Silver Coast, not far from our villas (where we stayed in January). Contrary to my expectations, the water is smoother here than the seas we sailed yesterday.

We woke up to quite a still and misty morning. After all the white caps yesterday, the water looked almost smooth. Between a very late night of entertainment and turning the clocks ahead 1 hour, we didn't stir from our slumber until 0948 this morning.

While we enjoyed sleeping in it forced us to go to one of the breakfast buffets instead of our Aqua class restaurant Blu. That is something we won't do again. The mounds of greasy bacon and sausages may have looked good this morning but did not taste as good as our Blu made to order breakfast.

As we spent much of our afternoon sleeping yesterday (three separate naps), we are trying to be a bit more active today. We attended a port of call lecture as well as a cha- cha class. They are doing glass blowing demonstrations this-afternoon and I hope to make it to a yoga class or the pool before supper and entertainment begins.

So far I have been rather disappointed in our lectures as I have not learned much about our destinations. We have had "an expert about Spanish culture" and a travel writer whose articles have appeared in "many of the Sunday inserts". Each one gave very vague facts that anyone who goggled our ports of call prior to the trips could have learned. I understand their goal is to make you want to purchase a shore excursion through the cruise line, however I think it could be done differently. I guess I have just been spoiled by my J- term classes at Westminster college with Dr Clarence Harms leading the way. If it were up to me, I would have informative lectures that include a few details about a shore excursion that has some activities you can only do through that particular tour. Things you couldn't do on your own to make people want to buy the package. Oh well I am not the cruise director or the activities manager, just a first time cruise passenger (unless you count j-term in the Galapagos) who is easily 25 years younger than the average age of the rest of the passengers, what do I know?

For now I will just research independently and prepare for our first docking in Malaga tomorrow.

Wild Wednesday at sea

Although the only wildlife I've seen today was a hover fly that was just blown up my husbands nose, the last couple of days have been full of birds and dolphins.

I think the ship carries a small population of pigeons with it. I see them on beaches everywhere, but that does not make a pigeon a seabird so I am guessing they hitch a ride and get to travel just as we do. I am not really sure if they count as wildlife therefore, but I will count them as my first sighting.

Keeping to the air we have seen a number of gulls and I have even managed to get a few pictures.

Now to the water. Our first dolphin sighting came on our first full day at sea. We were getting ready for formal night and my husband was on the balcony trying to cool off after a very hot shower whilst waiting for me to finish getting ready. He came in very excited shouting "dolphins, dolphins!". So I grabbed my camera and joined him on the balcony to see several small dolphins jumping the waves. They stuck around just long enough for me to snap a few (blurry) pictures before disappearing into the sunset. I believe these were dolphins, probably in the stenella group, but not positively identified.

The next evening as we walked from dinner (aft) to the theatre (forward). We walked along the outdoor corridor. There was a large group of people pointing at the ocean. I asked if dolphins had been spotted and was told not dolphins but whales! I leaned on the rail to see around the lifeboats and was rewarded with a blow. A few seconds later half a dozen or so blows produced their large plumes of sea spray and then they were gone. no picture this time but pleased with our sighting. I'm not sure what type of whales they were, the blows seemed straight up in the air and I did not notice large dorsal fins, but we were not close enough to get any more identity clues.

Then yesterday we woke up relatively early to watch as we made our way through the Straights of Gibraltar. In addition to a beautiful sunrise, we were rewarded with numerous dolphin sightings. Most of these seemed like bottle nose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), more uniform in color and slightly larger to the ones spotted previously).

After yoga sitting on the balcony of our room we saw several more pods. Some further away and another small pod of little stenellas. The water was so clear you could see their colorful bodies u see the waves.

Off to scan the waters for more wildlife!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Open Sea

We have been onboard for nearly 24 hours now and it has been great. Although my husband, the son of a sailor (yes, I sing Jimmy Buffet in my head every time I say that) thought he may be sea sick before leaving port he is doing very well (his Dad is actually a captain, not just another sailor) We can feel the boat rocking, most of the time it is like gently rocking a baby to sleep, however we have taken a few deeper pitches.

This morning we woke up and went to the fitness center and pool before breakfast. It was much easier to run on the treadmill looking over the ocean than cold wet weather at home. Afterwards we attended a guest lecture about the Spanish culture. We then hunted down some smoothies, and have now found a warm, sunny, and quiet spot to sit in the "Persian Garden". It is the perfect place to implement one aspect of Spanish culture into our life... The siesta!

Friday, 11 May 2012

87 days!

Today is the first of my husbands "lifestyle break" from work. Basically the chance to do something you've wanted to do without having to hit the alarm clock and go back to work on Monday or in 2 weeks, but in 12 weeks. All the while he knows his same job and pay are waiting for him when the 12 weeks is over.

This is a very exciting time for my husband as he has worked for the same supermarket chain for 27 years. Working in management he has had guidelines on what he wears to work, how he wears his hair... Not that my husband is a closet goth or anything, but he is having a bit of a "rage against the machine" moment and dyeing his hair blonde!

Last night we just did highlights. After a lengthy 2 hours of Mrs. G pulling his hair through the cap, applying the lightening cream, rinsing, & conditioning he decided it wasn't quite drastic enough. We have decided it was a look he could keep when he had to go back to work though.

After having a lovely evening with some university friends of his mother, we did another color treatment, this time all over! Wow what a difference. It is a brassy blonde now but he is enjoying his this alter ego style.