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About tammyjw305

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    DFW, Texas

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  1. Thanks! We want to do the Eastern Mediterranean now :).
  2. If anyone is looking at the Canary Island and Morocco cruise from Barcelona on the NCL Spirit, I created a review here:
  3. After the tour, we found a grocery store. I was not very comfortable at the grocery store, but husband noted there were not others around. We found dinner for at the hotel since our hotel was not near restaurants and some snacks. Then we were off to pick up our luggage; this went smoothly. We then caught the bus, with our T-10 card, for a long ride to the hotel. With luggage, it is hard to find a seat on the bus; as we progressed down the line to the end, it less and less crowded. Buses have stroller sections; this one had two. We did not get "the look", but there was definitely a "look" for "I have stroller, move it". The ride was about an hour, so longer and slower than the train we took into town. Our hotel was the Barcelona Airport Hotel or BAH. It was nice, though the shower/tub was not functional. It had two sinks, which was nice. We arrived about 4pm. We had a 6am flight, so an early, early morning. So, our dinner, shower, and to bed early. The hotel provided a shuttle, first come, first serve. We did not know how crowded, so we took the 2:40 am shuttle. We were the only ones on and got to the airport quickly. The airport -- Lufthansa desk and security -- did not open until 4am. It was an international flight to us, but not for Lufthansa with our layover in Frankfort. The flight was long -- 11.5 hours with some delay taking off. They cleaned the restrooms mid-flight, which was very helpful. I watched a lot of movies -- finishing Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean's 8 that I started but did not get to finish on the cruise. I'll end here -- a great cruise and lots of great ports! I will try to help with any questions that anyone has.
  4. The bike tour email said to be there 15 mins early. The Fat Tire team was not there that early. When they arrived, they easily found our reservation on their ipad. We divided into groups based on the tour booked. Our tour guide was from Latvia. She had lived in Arkansas and, I believe she said London too. She came to Barcelona on vacation and decided to stay. She has not learned to speak Catalonia, noting enough people speak English. After checking in, we walked to their bike shop to get our bikes, which was down a near alley. Then we were required to walk the bikes in some parts of town -- the rules, so we walked it back into the square where the Costa coffee was. She then began the tour; we learned about Barcelona and introduced ourselves and where we were from. From there, we rode. Barcelona was very impressive with the number of bike lanes, special turn lanes, bike lanes in round-abouts, some one way, some two way, and special bike signal lights. I very, very rarely ride a bike (last in 2001), so I was not good at this. Traffic was scary to me. Husband rides daily for exercise and was very comfortable. I did learn to get the pedal in the right place to start quickly after the light turned. Next stop: Palau de la Música Catalana, English: Palace of Catalan Music, by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. I looked this up, did not remember. Our guide noted it was very beautiful inside and to go there if we had a chance. Next stop - this park: There were some street performers here with large hula hoops. Then a stop in this park: Me pretending that I can ride a bike: A bull fighting ring, turned mall, when bull fighting was outlawed: Our tour also stopped at Sagradia Familia; I posted these pictures early. Here we learned about Gaudi. This originally was not an official church. Gaudi would pray at a different church each day, but he stopped taking care of himself. Then one day he fell in the street, and no one immediately helped him. Finally, someone took him to the hospital, and later he was determined to be Gaudi. After he passed, work continues on the church using some of Gaudi's notes and guessing what he intended. We had time to talk around at this stop too. We ended the tour at restaurant where we could have drinks and food. To get here, we rode on a path on the beach. The food was pricey, so we shared a brownie sundae only. Then we rode back to the shop to end the tour. It was a good, informative tour.
  5. Off the ship, we bought shuttle tickets to town (3 Euros/person, cash) . We had a Fat Tire bike tour and luggage storage booked --- our hotel was close to the airport and far from town. In Barcelona, there were many (seemed like) bike shops (bicycle and motorcycle) that would store luggage. Husband found a cool site -- BagBNB with options, hours, ratings, and bookings. We booked Mattia46 to store 2 bags. It was scheduled to open at 10am. After we walked around some, we were there at 9:45am. Someone had the shop open already, we went in. The shop was in the Rambla neighborhood; very close to our bike tour start. They give you a paper with luggage id; do not lose this. Our tour was at 11am, so more walking around (continuing later).
  6. Now for the saddest part of all cruises -- packing to leave. We did self-assist walk off, so did not have the pressure to finish with everything and get it into the suitcase. The next morning for disembarkation, the ship was scheduled to arrive at 5am. The buffet was a madhouse; we ate outside by the pool though it was cold for a seat. We went back to our room until about 8:15am, all out by 8:30am. We sat in the Champagne Bar until about 9am. They were urging people to disembark; everyone was holding back because Barcelona does not open too early :). We disembarked when everyone else was too. No customs, just luggage claim for those that put theirs out the night before. We used the port wifi to pick better airline seats. We had checked in when we woke up. Some closing ship notes: Loved: the itinerary, great weather, calm seas! Liked: the ship -- small enough for me to not get lost too much. Improvement needed - Needed other venues for breakfast, not available from Blue Lagoon. Room good: Great towel animals every night, ice, and extra hair towel, great location, peaceful hallway hidden in the front. Not loud, despite being over over casino. Room cons: toilet rarely cleaned, so toilet paper hung and took multiple flushes. No sitcom channel, multi-language channels further limited the selection, nothing much on. Room wreaked of perfume when we arrived; the previous occupant must have sprayed down and the closet...right before we arrived. We used a wet one and washcloth-ed forever to finally get to smell better by day 2 or so. We were cleaning all the hangers, afraid to put our clothes on.
  7. Port 6 - Alicante We planned the Castle, Volvo Sea race museum, and old town. From the port, we passed a shopping area on the lower level at the marina that was more hopping when we returned. There was also an elevated walkway with views of the beach and ocean. Past the shopping area: This time, instead of hiking uphill, I talked husband into the elevator. We arrived before 10am and had to wait for it to open. There was only one machine, but someone that knew it well helping. Then a line for the elevator, but not bad. This is the hall in the hill the castle was on to the elevator: View from the top: They had a few inside museum displays. Cool tunnels: The knights: Next guard house picture, now a tradition: After the castle, we walked down. It was through neighborhoods and a maze of stairs. We were not clear if our elevator ticket was round trip or one way. The ticket was 2.70 Euro each. Walking down is okay and was more scenic. We walked through the shopping area on the way back to the ship. The Sea Race Museum is a pier before it curves around where the ship was docked. It was a nice museum and was free. They race a long way, and that is a super-hard sport, yikes!
  8. Then we hiked up the hill to the Castle. Some friends from the ship took a taxi. I believe there was supposed to be a bus too. I do not have many pictures from the Castle... A very different looking squirrel: After we saw the Fortress and Castle, both had an informative guide available in English, we walked back to the ship, stopping to buy a soda and some candy. My only notes this night was that I had a double chocolate roulade dessert that was very good.
  9. A view of the ship from the Fortress: I loved these channels with water flowing around the fortress -- a definite garden design idea for some day: Model of the fortress: There were great views: View of the bull fighting ring:
  10. Overnight we sailed back through the Strait of Gibraltar and back into the Mediterranean Sea at about 1 or 2am, so we did not stay up for it. Port 5 - Malaga We walked around town and visited the Moorish fortress/Alcazaba and Castle Gilbrafaro. Roman amphitheater: By the amphitheater and fortress: You do not need a ticket to see those two views. Later we went in. Then to La Manquita, the one-armed woman church: Building across from the church: Then we bought combo tickets to both the Fortress and Castle. It was from a machine, but a gentleman helped out. In the Moorish Fortress first:
  11. Next, was a Sea Day. I have a few more notes from today. We went to landmark trivia. We did not make as many trivia friends this time. 5pm trivia was moved without an update on the freestyle daily on the app, so we waited and missed this one. Husband won pub trivia this night. It was super loud in the pub, so the cruise director staff keep yelling and worrying that we could not hear. We went to the ship presentation, officer q&a, and towel folding. They let some from the audience participate. We had lunch at the MDR. I had chicken nachos that were very good. My fish from fish and chips was good, the chips/fries were old. Notes on lunch end there. We returned to Shogun for dinner, arriving right as it opened to a line. We were asked to share a table, which we have not done on this cruise. We like to share because we get to hear other people travel stories. The hostess proficiently thanked them for sharing since they had to another night; though it was not a valid share. We sat at a table for 6 with 4, 2 chairs in the middle. They were served separately, and we spoke different languages so was disappointing. I had the calamari again and tried orange beef and steamed rice this time. The orange beef was not too orangey, which is always a risk. After the Le Bistro steak, this was my best meal on the ship; I loved it! I had another chocolate ginger cake. Husband had the sweet and sour soup, which was like no other sweet and sour soup that he has had, hum. Then he had Pho soup with pork. Similar to his starter, but he was okay with that. He tried the tapioca pudding for dessert and said both the main and dessert were good. Before dinner picture; this ship has a full-ship height nice atrium and other neat decor -- fountains and dolphin statues:
  12. Back in town, we walked around a little on our own. We saw the market with fish and fruit. Husband got an "apple banana". A Christmas decorations up on the 9th; inside a red metal Christmas tree: Christopher Columbus's ship on the end: Another view of the beautiful flowers growing down the wall on the walk back to the ship: Back on the ship, we went to gym -- best gym experience with the beautiful island and then sailaway. Though an odd thing -- the thread mill was in km, even when I remembered to pick English - US. I could not determine how to change it. We went to afternoon trivia and then Latitudes party. Party was at a bad time -- 7pm, dinner-time -- seeming to discourage attendance. There were abundant drink trays, but we had trouble getting the cheese and crackers tray (grapes were gone) to stop by. I made a special drink request and received it quickly. Then we headed to the show; it was a comedian, hypnotist from Britain. More emphasize on hypnotizing. It was not my cup of tea, so I talked husband into leaving early to beat the show rush to dinner. We had dinner in Windows MDR. I had caramelized onion and goat cheese flatbread, which was very good. They had a prime rib on the menu, but noted it was backed up in the kitchen and would take a while, so I settled for the NY strip steak instead. It was a little tough. We normally eat earlier, and now know what happens when we eat later :). Husband had the shrimp Louie, veal (not as tender as the Italian restaurant), and strawberry Napoleon. He liked it all. I need to catch up on show review. We had a singer on the ship. He was very good, but they had his volume too loud at the Welcome Aboard show. In his individual show, it was more enjoyable with a better volume. I always like the aerobats, and these did not disappoint. The magician was good; more my husband's thing than mine but enjoyable. We did not watch any of the production shows, as I'm not normally a fan.
  13. We went through the winery area (elevation that white vs red grow; I believe white at a higher elevation) and learned about banana trees (they only grew one bunch per year, though a very large bunch, not like a grocery store one). The banana bunch was stored in a bag as it grew and ripened; the bag kept the mosquitos out. Sugar cane grew at a higher elevation. We also learned about eucalyptus trees; they are invasive and prone to fire. Also, saw an Australia plant and mossimo trees cross breed where the children had leaves of both and saw chestnut trees. I forgot the most important part -- this was a Jeep tour. The Jeep's "UMM" logo is for Up Mountain Madeira: We then went for view of Nun's Valley from the top: Our trip also included off-roading where we go to stand up in the jeep to enjoy the ride. Lastly, we stopped at a bar and grocery shop. Our tour guide was likely related to the owners because he was in bar serving. This stop had a restroom. We got to try their homemade cherry liquor -- very good, and their 50 year old Madeira (red) wine. I do not normally like wine, and this is the best that I have had. Husband liked both and also the rum punch (I forgot what they were called), but they came in different flavors. We shared one to try. Husband also got a beer and some snacks at the grocery store; I got an ice cream. Then we head back to Funchal for the end of the tour.
  14. Port 4 - Funchal, Madeira This was my favorite stop, not factoring in Barcelona because they are hard for me to compare. This island is part of Portugal. A view from the ship...so pretty! This was taken from the back of the ship where we ran into a lady who had friends on the island and had visited multiple times. She advised us of a separate island connect to the dock that was a separate country with one guy living there and of Christopher Columbus's ship that we could see or buy a tour on. We had booked a half day tour with Up Mountain Madeira. We could pay for a port pick up since they are charged to drive into the port or walk about 10-15 mins to meet in front of the museum. We chose to meet them outside of the port. We did not have to rush much; we planned to meet at 9:30. We paid a deposit using PayPal and paid the balance at the end of the tour. Our guide was Ricardo, who did a great job! Another couple and their son from our cruise ship were also on the tour. The couple was famous from the ship's Perfect Couple game show from the night before :). Great tour size and great people to explore the island with. We first stopped at Câmara de Lobos, 'the sea wolves' lair,' a picturesque fishing village once painted by Sir Winston Churchill; I'm quoting exactly because I was not remembering. Then we went to the Glass Bottom Cliff. This view here was my favorite; I could not get enough of it! The beach below looks to have some black sand: This stop also had a restroom for 50 cents and vendors.
  15. In summary for Tenerife, going up the mountain was a great experience. There were great views, and we got to see from 3 sides of the mountain. They pointed out that you can see Gran Canaria that we visited the day before from the top. Our tour guide provided good and enjoyable info on the bus ride. We just could have used more info on the trail -- which went where and which required a permit. We were following the crowd but not sure where we were headed. When we returned to the ship, we went our room but got back off quickly (not much time left in port) to visit an ATM. Here are some pictures from the quick town tour. View of the ship with the mountains. The mountains are part of Anaga National Park. We explored this as an excursion option. There is a bus that goes there, but we figured we would need a car to get to trailheads after getting there. We did not brave trying to get international driving permit. There were tours available, but nothing that sold us. But beautiful to see: We were not sure if this was normally a fountain full of water where the green was painted, but may not: Back to the port: We had dinner booked at the Italian restaurant with our other platinum dining certificate. I had calamari; it was not as good as Shogun's. I also had the filet here; it was good but not as good as Le Bistro and chocolate torte for dessert. I'm a picky eater and don't like fruit in my chocolate. I asked for no raspberries. They were removed from the whole raspberries, but forgot to mention that there was also a raspberry gelatin layer between the chocolate and crust. I removed some and ate it without it. Husband had bean soup, paste e fagiolis, the veal that was very good and tender, and tiramisu -- always a winner.
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