Aprl 19 was the only sea day before our tour in Cadiz and I have concerns about it. It’s a short bus ride, a long walking tour with cobblestoned streets, and a flamenco show, with drinks and tapas. It sounds nice, but I have a lot of handicapped people who can’t do the walking. I promised them all taxis to get past that part, but there are 9 of them, plus caregivers. It will take 5 or 6 taxis into the narrow streets of the old town. I hope they have that many. Rebecca of Shorex knows, and she has alerted the tour operator, but it’s not an ideal situation, by any means.
I divided the buses up so all the handicapped folk would be on Bus 1 with me, wrote and delivered a letter, the bus list and tour description. Then I prepared the tipping envelopes and delivered theirs to Michael and Gail, for Bus 2.
Norm Petersen returned their tickets. It looked like too much for Annie. He also gave me 250 Internet minutes, as he had about 500 left. Anne had not used hers at all. Carol Martis gave me another hundred, so I’ll be fine for boarding passes and anything else I might need. Such is the Internet pricing plan that people buy 1000 on day one for 25 cents a minute, rather than 500 for 50 cents a minute. People who have sailed with me before, tip me their excess. I figure I can gratefully accept that tip, because they would only go to waste. I promised Norm that his USB screen saver would be extra good, as I would put all of Dee’s beautiful fish and coral on it for him. Another couple canceled out, too, just because the husband doesn’t like organized tours.
They had a local Flamenco Show for entertainment, and I think they were good enough, but it’s not obvious from the back of the Queen’s lounge, since all the action is at feet level.
On April 20, the day of the tour in Cadiz, Spain, I woke up around 5:30 am, still worrying about the taxi situation and wondering if I could have Bus 1 made into a panoramic tour, to keep all my handicapped people with me, and not have to worry if we would have enough taxis. While I was dressing and having breakfast, two more couples called to cancel. Now I was down to 36 people and the panoramic bus idea would work, if Shorex and the Tour Operator would give it to me.
I hustled myself to the Queen’s Lounge and found Rebecca. I ran the idea by her and she called Nyron, who was outside at the buses, with the Tour Operator. To my delight, they agreed. This took the stress off me, and all the handicapped people and care givers.
Everyone was delighted, and off went Bus 1, with delightful tour guide Ini. Ini was Dutch, of all things. She came to visit Cadiz eleven years ago, and stayed, because she just loved the place and the people. It is a very old town, once on the Roman supply route, as it is a strategic port. It has been in existence since 1100 BC. The Romans were here from 200 BC to 400 AD. It connects easily enough to Rome. There was ship building here at one time, and trading in all sorts of goods.
Cadiz has three beaches. We saw the Women’s Beach, where it’s Ok to go topless, and the Men’s Beach, where it isn’t. Surf and sand are lovely at both. The Arabs took over what was left of Cadiz in 800 AD. They stayed until 1200 AD, until the English and Dutch ran them off, to gain control of the strategic location. Columbus left here on his second and fourth voyages. In 1596 Cadiz was badly plundered and the House of Seville took over, so they became part of Spain. In 1717 the Accounting House was moved here and started rebuilding the city.
Slowly, all Cadiz’ industries faded away. The people get poorer and poorer, but they are famously joyful and good humoured. They like to celebrate and will do it at the drop of a hat, often on the beautiful beaches. The more difficult life gets, the more they laugh and cope. A couple of years ago, the city issued a rolling plastic garbage can to every household. About three weeks later, all sorts of people started showing up at City Hall, asking for another one, claiming theirs had disappeared. The city eventually noticed what was happening. The nice clean garbage cans were painted many colors, and entrepreneurs were filling them with ice and selling ice cream and cold drinks from them on the beach. Bless the city’s heart. It decided to look the other way.
Ini had the bus take us to the outskirts of the old city and took the time to show us a typical Nobleman or Rich Trader’s house, of old. Most of them are now apartment buildings. Each one is a square that occupies a city block, with a courtyard in the middle. There are five stories, plus a rooftop terrace. There is a wrought iron door on the courtyard side and a big wooden door to the street, wide enough for a horse and carriage. The wooden door is open during the day and the air flows through to the courtyard. The ground floor is for storage of goods for sale. The first floor is offices for trading. The second floor has higher ceilings and balconies and is comprised of family apartments. The third floor is more modest and houses the servants for the extended family. On the 5th floor, they hung clothes, looked out to sea for arriving ships, and defended the place, if necessary.
We got off the bus for 10 minutes of walking and Ini took us to our Flamenco Show, via the 1812 Memorial park. The memorial is quite beautiful, and Ini described each of the statues. The last one was Perseverance, a lady on a horse, with the inevitable pigeon on her head, and the white streaks, streaming down her face. Standing there since 1812 is my idea of perseverance, all right.
It was a short walk up a very narrow cobblestoned street to the taberna, where the Flamenco Show would be held. Ini explained that the streets were so narrow, because Cadiz enjoys so much sunshine, that they needed their shade. We had sangria, or wine, and excellent tapas, with our Flamenco Show, and everyone pronounced it much better than the ship’s last night. This is probably because it was done the way it was supposed to be done. We sat on three sides of a stage, raised up about three feet, so we were at eye level with the dancer’s feet. They were very good, as were the singer and guitarist. When we got out, Ini pointed out that you could see the ship from the taberna. We dismissed Bus 2 and only seven people took Bus 1 back. Two of those were Joanne Ward, who had a Bridge Tour, and me. Even many of the handicapped elected to walk to see a bit of the town.
I checked in with Elvon, took him to the gym, and was back out on the street by 2:30 pm. I did a little poking around, and quite a bit of shopping. The euro is down and the prices are good in Spain. On the way back to the ship, is a lovely square, with a church on one side and a bunch of bar/restaurants on the other. One had a signboard offering Churros and Chocolate. That looked good to me, but I didn’t want to eat alone. I was in luck. There were Bob and Sheila Gan. Bob is the Rabbi on board, this year. They took me in and we had a lovely half-hour in the sun, with our decadent snack. I can still taste the chocolate. It was that dense.
Back on the ship, we went to sailaway, and I got wonderful comments on the tour, from handicapped and able-bodied, alike. No one had any complaints on this one, except those who did not come. But, it was their not coming that brought the numbers down to where I could effectively make two tours out of it. I’ll be watching for this opportunity in the future and try to precipitate it out, where applicable.
The entertainment was virtuoso Flutist, Steven Clark, with his golden flute.
Back at sea on it’s winding down. I have had good demand for my screen saver, with pictures of everyone on it, as well as a lot of Dee Wescott’s gorgeous fish and coral. She takes professional equipment into the deep and does a professional job. They’re fun, because we were all in the same places, even if we did stay above the water. I went to Cruise Director Gene and offered him my entire bank of Grand Dollars, if he would give me enough USB thumb drives to give every cabin one. He did and I am now in business, making the things.
It was Gene’s Birthday, and I made him a card, with a picture of him on stage in Skip Bardsley’s gorilla suit, donated on the 2013 Grand Asia. Events Manager Mark Beasley came to dinner with Michael Innis and Gail Hanson, and we invited Jim Wirtz over again. It was a very nice group. Jim is particularly fond of the Bridge teachers. He came on board never having played tha game, and by the time Gail got off, they were winning consistently. He has a new interest and he is delighted with it.
The entertainment was Rock Star Juggler, Mike Price, and we did enjoy him.
In April 22, we docked in Funchal, Portugal.It was our last port before Fort Lauderdale. Elvon and I had our usual port pig-out breakfast in the Lido. I took care of a few items of business, photoshopped a bunch of pictures, and all I saw of the town was as far as I could walk in the half-hour before boarding. I did spot a nice looking yacht club, that will make a good Internet hot spot some year. This year, I have enough Internet minutes now, that I just used the ship’s and saved myself the bother.
We had Doc Gisela and SOB Chas for dinner again. They live in Halifax, so now we have two couples to visit there, once I get a Canada New England gig. The show was ABBA Fab and we just love that music. I’ll never forget us and the Harrolds standing on the seats at Mama Mia in San Francisco.
On April 23, I found out that, as usual, the ship scheduled three Mariners’ Lunches for this week, and, also as usual, one of them fell on our Pinnacle lunch. So, I went to the Front Desk, found out who was in charge and got the usual special dispensation for my people, who had the conflicting date, to come to the DV Lunch and the Mariners’ Lunch of their choice. I wrote and delivered another letter.
It’s Passover, which causes a problem for our Canaletto Dinner and Pinnacle Lunch. I checked with the powers that be and was pleased to report back that all could be accommodated, as these restaurants cook to order. Jan Yetke came to say she had not used up all their President’s Club Pinnacle Dinners, and had negotiated that she could use them to host at our DV Lunch. Another donation in kind, gratefully accepted by yours truly, who spends a lot of her own money hosting these things.
Judy Carmichael, who plays the piano and sings, entertained us in fine style. It was another very nice evening.
The next day, I was back at the desk, taking orders for boarding passes, dispensing Grand Dollars, and generally taking care of business. Two of the three Jewish couples just canceled out of lubch, sadly. It’s just too hard during Passover. Molly Wallace wants a wheelchair at the Port Terminal in Fort Lauderdale and the Front Desk is giving her trouble. I saw Christel and got her one, but it will only go to the elevator and she is not to take more carry on than she can manage, as the wheelchair will not cross the hall to customs with her. It’s about union rules in Fort Lauderdale. That doesn’t exactly endear them to me.
We had Norm and Ann Petersen for dinner, which was lovely, and comedian, Buzz Sutherland, for entertainment. He was excellent.