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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Cruising the Panama Canal.........

The next day, it had quit raining, the weather was nice, and this made cruising the Panama Canal very pleasant.   Get up early, take your camera, and go to Deck 11 - you will see lots of cruisers taking lots of pictures.

At 8 o'clock, go for breakfast on Deck 5 - and get a table besides the ocean.  You will have the best view........

After breakfast, if you have an interior cabin, go to Deck 4 and stake out your chair with a book, etc.   It will be hot out, so you want to be in the shade.   Deck 4 will be busy - lots of cruisers tried to grab the locks.

For lunch, take the elevater that comes out on Deck 10 right besides the spa and hot pool - there is a small lunch counter here that serves bread, salads, and good desserts.  Take your lunch back to Deck 4 and enjoy the view.

You can look for alligators, although I did not see one.

The ocean by Panama City was very dirty.

Photos belong to Dorothy Lloyd.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Jaro's ride on Jesmond Dene road .....

There are a few bike paths, but they will not get you far.   However, most roads have a designated bike lane, which is sort of like a bike path.

This is the road from Del Mar to Torrey Pines....

Del Mar horse racing track, right next to Solana.

Just a quick stop on the bridge to take a photo.

This is the old dam at Lake Hodges.  The water here is good - no problem.  I usually take one bottle, and sometimes on a longer ride,  I stop at one of the public parks to re-fill......

Jesmond Dene road - one of my favorites!  Hardly any traffic on it because there is a highway close by, that all the cars take.  An example of a small road that does not really have a bike lane.  
Got a little reminder on today's ride to-and-from Oceanside as to why I do not have a bell on my bike:   I probably spent about half the time elbow-steering (for lack of a better word - since I do not have TT bars).  It seems unlikely that in that position, I could reach quickly enough for a bell - my main concern is being able to reach for the breaks in an emergency.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Our second stop was Colon, Panama.....

We were here from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.   This is a very small city - one of the taxi drivers said there was only 16 streets.  It was raining, but Celebrity did have an umbrella in the cabin, and some took them.

There is a small shopping Centre right outside the ship -

Not too much here, just a grocery store, electronic store, and a few souvenir stores. 

I like to look around a grocery store - I bought vinegar flavoured with onion ($1.45) and honey mustard spread ($3.50).   If you need any alcohol, go to this store....

Nice looking police officer......

Once you toured the grocery store, sat outside under a shelter for a little while, and bought a few souvenirs, that was it.  I would have liked to eat lunch - there was a snack bar in the grocery store, but there was no place to eat outside.  I could have gone to the casino for lunch, and there was a McDonalds a cab ride away, but it was raining, so I went back to the ship. 

The next day, I heard lots of complaints about the tours - horrific traffic, missed lunches, that it had rained all day and the bus windows were fogged up. The town of Portabelloe was poor and very small.  I think there was some refunds on the tours. 

Photos belong to Dorothy Lloyd. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Jaro has new wheels.......


They look pretty ordinary, but the differences are in the details.  For example, the hub flanges are built for installation of straight spokes, instead of the usual "J" bend.   I have been looking for a new set for quite a few months, not really sure what to get (too much choice !!).
The trip to San Diego opened another opportunity.   After a few e-mails back and forth with the local store in Solana, I ended up getting a pair of Specialized Roval wheels for US $650 - a pretty good deal, according to various web site reviews.   Of course, by the time they added the freewheel, tires, tubes and service, it came to just under $1000.
Jolly Roger restaurant - it is one of those things, where something interesting is too far to walk to (even from the nearest train station) and I can't go by bike in the evening, or leave the bike outside.

Pedestrians only - but bike riders maybe later this month. 

This is about the busiest part of the beach in Oceanside.

Not as exciting as you might think - they move VERY slowly against even a slight breeze - too little power for the amount of drag.  There are also hot air balloons sometimes aloft around here.  A week ago, while on a bike ride, I was passed by a pickup truck chasing after a balloon to meet at the landing site to pick up the equipment.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Our first stop was at Cartagena, Colombia......

I left the ship about 9:30.  There was a cruise terminal about a 10 minute walk away, but I did notice smaller buses driving passengers from the cruise ship.  The terminal was nice - lots of souvenirs, coffee shop, Wi-Fi, restaurant, and lots of birds.

After about an hour,  I decided to take a taxi downtown.  In the taxi stand, a  Columbian, older guy, asked if I wanted to take a taxi for two hours for $80.   I had only taken $60 ashore, so we agreed on $50, because I did not want to go shopping, so only needed the taxi for about an hour or so.   He called the taxi, got in the front, and we went to the Old City. 

At breakfast the next morning, I was talking to two cruisers, and they said they had taken a cab with a tour guide, and it was $80, but they did stop at a market.

He was my tour guide for a walk around the Old City - very polite and interesting.  He answered all my questions, and we had a good visit.  

In the Old City, if you use the washroom - $1 to the attendant.  Lots of vendors, but with the guide, just shake your head.

The weather was cloudy  but very humid.  After about an hour, my hair and my clothes were soaked through.  Other cruisers the night before told me about the mosquitoes, and told me to wear a long sleeved shirt.  I was wearing a light sweater, which I took off and put in my backpack -   I asked the tour guide to carry the backpack, and he said it was his pleasure.

We walked around the Old City for about an hour and we climbed the wall surrounding it. But, again, so humid.......

The cab waited for us just outside the Old City - what a treat to come back to air-conditioning.  I asked the tour guide why had he waited, and he said that he is not allowed to leave.  Back at the terminal, he asked for a tip for them, and I tipped them $5.  Well worth the $55 because this was my own time - I did not have to rush in the morning to take the tour - and a very interesting tour guide.

Back at the terminal, I sat for a little bit in the restaurant.   I noticed that for many passengers, this was their only stop off the ship.  I took the shuttle bus back to the ship - who were  waiting outside with face clothes soaked in ice water and a glass of water to drink.

Photos belong to Dorothy Lloyd.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Jaro takes a hike and a bike ride......

This particular beach is about 25 km south of Solana, so maybe about 40 minutes bike ride.  The nearest beach to my place is around Fletcher Cove, which is maybe a 15 minute walk - less than 10 minutes bike ride.

Besides the bike, I occasionally hike to Fletcher Cove and along the beach - makes for a nice rest day.
The pelicans are fun to watch in flight.  They fly very close to the surface, with wing tips nearly touching the water and "surf" the air that is pushed ahead of a wave, flying parallel to and just ahead of the wave crest -- they are better surfers than any of the people with their fiberglass boards..... 

Most of the roads here have a designated bike space.  Some sections of Hwy 101 have an entire lane designated for bike use.  I know there are also dirt paths, but never tried them.

It is a pretty amicable scene on the roads - often small groups of bikers form along the way, and sometimes we strike a conversation....

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

We had two sea days to our first port......

It took about an hour of standing to board the ship, but very efficient.  And lots of people to help if you are having any problems.

I wanted to drop off my carry-on, so went to the cabin.  My cabin was on Floor 2 - the first floor with passenger cabins.  You could really hear the engine noise, but after two or three days, I didn't mind it.  The cabin was quite a big bigger than Holland America's cabin.

On this cruise, I had breakfast in the dining room instead of at the buffet - it is nice to be served, and lots of cruisers ate here.  You do not have to look for seats - the waiter sits you, and you can either join a table or sit by yourself.  I sat with many different people, and really enjoyed breakfast.

During the second day,  I went to Customer Service, and asked the dining room supervisor if I could sit with single people.  That night, in the dining room,  they asked me to go upstairs to the fixed hours dining room - the clerk set me back downstairs to ask for a certain table number.   I was the only one at the table, and the waiter told me that my reservation was for 8:15 - it was only about 6:30.   They then seated two American couples with me (married), but we had a good visit.  So no singles table in the dining room... and, after that, I ate upstairs on Deck 10. 

I went to the buffet for supper because I found the dining room to be noisy, and a little dark.   I ate about 5:30 and then went to the 7 o'clock show.

I got seasick the third day, but did not need any pills - I just had a good rest in my cabin that afternoon.  I was going to watch a movie, but there were no free ones - $12.99 for a movie.
Holland America had lots of free movies - even though they were not first-run, it is nice to watch a movie, especially on an early night.  There was also no movie theatre on the ship. 

The ship seemed huge to me, but there were lots of places to sit.   There is a library on the 8th floor, open 24 hours, so lots of reading material.  The non-fiction is upstairs in the library, so either take the stairs in the library or get off on Deck 9.    I like to pick a book and read on the lounge chairs on Deck 4 - peaceful....

Laundry was very expensive.   A blouse was $4, pants $5,  and underwear was $2.   I washed my clothes in the room -  the ship did have a clothesline in the shower, but bring some clothespins and a couple of hangers from home.  Also, bring a power cord from home.

At night, the poker game did not start till 10 pm.  And I never played to a full table - just 3 or 4 cruisers.  We did not like this electronic poker table, and after about 3 nights, only playing for about an hour, I quit playing poker.  The Casino was really busy though.

If you like the Spa, you can have lunch here too. 

Photos belong to Dorothy Lloyd and Celebrity.