2014 Updates

20140515_214615 stateroom 300Monday, May 5, 2014.

My sister arrived as scheduled at 6:30 am to take us to the Cruise Connection stop. The bus never arrived. I spoke with someone who was awaiting transportation from another company. When the shuttle arrived, Dennis and I were lucky. The driver said he had room for two more and we could get cash for the payment at an ATM in Port Charlotte. At all the pickup points people further downstream from Sarasota, there were people stranded by the bus that did not show. By 1:30 pm, we were aboard the NCL Star and settled into our stateroom. The layout is roomier than rooms with a balcony and the porthole lets in light and gives us a view of the ocean. That night we supped with couples from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Dennis and I both enjoy free-style dinning and meeting new people each day. After dinner, we walked about two miles, strolling on the outer deck under a crescent moon.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

20140515_215840 NCL gym 300The gym was crowded. Mats and people everywhere made it hard to walk around. Luckily I had gotten there early, laid out my mat and built a weight pyramid in preparation for the Cathe High Reps workout that I had on my laptop. People muttered their displeasure at my taking so much real estate and even tried to take my weights and mat. I paid them to mind. Unlike our first transatlantic crossing (2013) which had been cloudy and cold, today was sunny and warm. We took advantage of the great weather to sit in the hot tub and and eat al fresco. The musical show this evening was called Band on the Run (great voices but poor choreography). Afterwards, we went to the dining room. We were having such great conversations with three couples from Australia (Dierdre and Ian, Helen and Alex, ? and Jack) that the wait staff did not even offer us coffee in hopes that we would leave. We pushed our clock ahead one hour; the first of six time zone changes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

20140515_215318 hot tub 300There were fewer people in the gym this morning. I watch the last hour of Lords of the Ring while I peddled on the exercise bike. After all that work, I only burned about 300 calories. Today was again sunny and warm. We enjoyed more hot tub, wave pool, and eating on the open deck. We skipped the comedy show and had an early dinner. Afterward, we tried to walk around the promenade deck, but it was too windy for conversation, so we returned to our room for a game of scrabble—and I was the victor.

Thursday, May, 8, 2014

We’ve hit choppy seas. One of the closet doors kept squeaking through the night until Dennis got up to shut it. Since I did not sleep well because of the noise, I slept in, putting off exercise. I can’t remember when I last had eight hours of sleep. Yesterday I ran to the lounge chair from the hot tub because the deck was hot. Today I ran there because I was shivering. Everyone on deck is in long sleeves and wrapped in beach towels. 20140515_215236 NCL libraryAt the ship’s library, I took out Steven King’s book, On Writing from the ship’s library. I read this before and was going to just skim though it, but it is so entertaining that I am rereading it. I love his style and story of how he became a writer. This evening’s entertainment was the multi-instrumentalist Andy Buenger—The Power of Music. He played vibraphone, drums, saxophone, trumpet, steel guitar, panpipes, and others. I found the panpipes haunting. Joke of the day. This man is stranded on an island for years. One day, a beautiful 21-year-old woman clad in a skin-tight wet suit emerges from the water. She says, “I can see you’ve been here for a long time. Is there something you would like?” He thinks for a few seconds and says “A lovely meal.” She unzips the wet suit a bit, reaches in and pulls out a cheeseburger, which he quickly devours. She then asks if there is anything else he would like. “A nice cold beer,” he replies. She unzips the wet suit some more, reaches in and pulls out a cold Heineken. She then unzips further and asks, “Would you like a round?” Astonishingly he replies, “My god, Don’t tell me you have a golf bag in there!” Before bed, we again set the clocks forward an hour.

Friday, May 9, 2014

20140515_214638 NCL office 300Most people on deck are wearing pants and jackets to ward off the wind and the colorless atmosphere. Looking out the porthole is like looking at a pencil sketch in varying tones of gray. These breezy cool days allow me to write without guild. I am writing blogs for My Musings, my blog on writing. I will schedule them for release while I am traipsing in Europe. Once again someone tried to take my workout tools, even my personal stretch band. Is this rudeness or unfamiliarity with workout routines? I use a variety of dumbbells varying the weight for different effects. I am following a workout played on the Kindle Fire set on the floor near me. Yet people interrupt me or reach for the weight I am not using at the moment, even though there are plenty of weights on the rack. We visited the library with its extensive collection of books and discovered that the provide a daily crossword and Sudoku puzzles. I checked out the book On Writing by Stephen King. I had read it before and was going to shim over it, but it is such a delight that I am rereading it. Dennis is reading One Summer by Bill Bryson and he chortles and reads me the excerpts. We had a wonderful time at dinner with Paula and Lisa and overextended our stay with delightful conversation. We forgoed The Mesmerizing Brenda Kaye in favor of Spider Man.

Saturday May 10, 2014

Another gray day. Only the smokers are sitting on deck. Its hard to believe that we are on day 6. Tomorrow we will be in the Azores. We closed the restaurant down again and missed the magician. No big deal on my behalf. I’ ve finished reading On Writing my Stephen King. I am really glad that I picked up this book. It was a delight to read and I learned a lot from it.

20140512_132009 Ponta Delgada main street 300Monday May 12, 2014 Ponta Delgada

After a week at sea, it felt wonderful to be on terra firma. Ponta Delgado is a Portuguese island in the Azores. We disembarked around 9 A.M. and tried to get our ATM card to work. After several attempts we realized were keying in the wrong pin number for the card we had. Since it was raining, we decided not to rent bicycles. The cost was very reasonable: 10 Euros each for bicycle or 30 Euros for a scooter per day. Since this is a small island, we could have toured it, visited the volcano and crater lakes, and seen the coastline. Instead, we sat dry and warm in a cafe and caught up on emails. I called my mom to wish her a belated mother’s day wish. She was delighted to hear from me. 20140512_131906 Jane downtown Ponta Delgada 300Back in the room, we watched Saving Mr. Banks. We both enjoyed the script and acting. We shared a dinner with an interesting Canadian couple, Jillian and Barry. Twenty years ago she sailed across the Atlantic in thirty days. He is a philanthropist working with the Shriners. We talked about travel, history, and aging productively. We voluntarily skipped the comic/jugglar act, returning to the room to read/write. I am editing Dennis’s Camino book. So far this trip, we have not had great pictures. Hopefully this will change with the Cliffs of Dover.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sunny, light white caps, about 60º F. Lazy day. The time switch every other day is effecting my sleep and eating patterns. I’m not tired at night and can’t wake up in the morning. My hunger is between mealtimes. Once on land, I am sure things will settle down. While exercising (I have to burn off the desserts like this raspberry torte), I watched Man of Steel. The first part was OK, but the last half hour when Superman fights aliens from Krypton was overdone. We also watched Jobs and I really enjoyed that movie, Well acted. Before turning in, we watched White House Down…another superhero-type movie I would be on the C-B list. Only one other movie worth watching, Monuments Men, and I am not sure if it will be shown again. 20140513_204031 Linda and Jane at dinner 300

We had an interesting evening with Linda, a two-time Camino Frances pilgrim who is on her way to walk the Camino Portuguese. She is also an award-winning author. The other tablemates were like-minded and the conversations flowed to many topics.

The entertainment last night was “The Look of Love – The Music of Burt Bacharach” Great music, inferior choreography. The stage is narrow, making it difficult for the 16 actors to move around. The song “How can I go one without her” made me realize the importance of not taking Dennis and our time together for granted.

Wednesday, May 15, 2014

20140509_192613 rasberry torte 300Last night’s time change made it difficult to rise. We had a late breakfast. High winds made walking on the promenade difficult, so we walked around the ship. We found Red Lion, the British-style pub and had a pint of brown beer while we played Scrabble. I slaughtered Dennis—both games. After that tall drink, we took a two-hour nap, not unusual for Dennis, but a rarity for me. Need sea legs to get to dinner. Ater another delightful dinner, we decide to forgo the entertainment in favor of watching Grudge Match with DiNara and Stallon. It was better than expected, with lots of humor. I decided to wait until we got home to edit Dennis’s book. It is just not ready from my review.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Can you believe I slept until 10 am? Dennis woke me with breakfast in bed. (He’s such a good boy!) Today the ship enters the Bay of Biscayne and tomorrow we will be in Dover. I am looking forward to visiting the cliffs and getting WiFi so I can post my journal. From now on, the postings should get more interesting as we start to visit the various countries. On deck today it’s 55ºF. As we head north, it gets colder. I hope I have enough warm back packing clothes. I brought too many ship clothes. Instead of dumping them, I may keep them until I get into warmer climes.

Blue-green water replaces the steel-grayness of the deep seas. The swells are only a few feet high and the sailing is smooth. We see fishing boats, freighters, and carriers to the starboard side. We cannot see land, but the horizon is only 27 miles away, and Spain is beyond.. This afternoon I exercised on the cycle and ellipticals while watching Planes, an animated film. Afterward, I felt much better. It will be great to leave all this rich food behind.

Friday, May 16, 2014 Dover

We docked in Dover at 4:45 AM. Temperature is 48.6ªF. From the starboard porthole, the cliffs of Dover are not impressive, not very tall, and not very white. Perhaps they will be more impressive upon departure this evening.

About The Author

Jane V. Blanchard

I am an award-winning author of the "Woman On Her Way" book series, writing about my travel adventures. For more information on the books, please visit janevblanchard.com. I started the "Woman On Her Way" travel blog in 2013 to share my experiences as I explored 13 countries with my husband, traveling by ship, foot, bike, bus, train, and plane. Dennis and I continue to make memories and hope you will enjoy following along.

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