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tennisbeforewine

John and Diane's Latest Adventures - 2020

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I'm wondering how many guests are onboard, and of that number what percentage (approximately) are doing the full World Cruise, as opposed to segments.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

At Sea en route to Recife, Brazil

 

Our day yesterday started off fairly slowly, but boy did it liven up in the evening.  In Trivia, the maximum score possible is 15, and our team’s goal at this point is just to get to double digits.  Hamish, according to his girlfriend, spent a good amount of his time off before the cruise making up each day’s fifteen questions, and boy did he do a good job.  The questions are harder than ever this year and our scores are suffering for it.  For example:  On which Chinese holiday do the celebrants eat green noodles?  Whattya think?  Chinese New Year?  The Moon Festival?  No, it was an April holiday we’d never heard of (and no one got right) that celebrated the sweeping off of gravestones.  What is he thinking?  Another one asked which fighter had the most knockouts, and we could use the real name or the nickname.  Was it Sugar Ray Leonard?  Was it Joe Louis (The Brown Bomber)?  No, it was Archie Moore whose nickname we had never heard.  Oh well, perhaps today will be our double digit day.

 

John and Rich went up to play pickleball in the afternoon, but because the game uses a wiffle ball, the wind made it impossible.  Then Alex and Marina showed up, and Alex had four paddle tennis rackets.  Since the game uses tennis balls, which are heavier, it worked just fine, so 90 minutes later I found the guys at the Sea View Bar enjoying a beer.  

 

At dinner the celebration of all things Brazilian began.  Some of the choices were really delicious.  I began with the chicken and rice soup which had just a bit of a kick, and John had a starter that basically was an empanada but had a Portuguese name (since that’s the language of Brazil.)  The big hit for main courses was a full plate of meat, including slices of filet, slices of tri-tip, and grilled sausages.  That’s what Nancy had, and she was very enthusiastic about it.  John had a main that was Brazilian shrimp, and it came in a spicy sauce and was served on really nicely seasoned rice.  I should have had that too, but I really wasn’t hungry, so I ordered a small baked potato which Indy served with a few vegetables.  One of the things I like about this ship is that I can order things that aren’t on the menu and get them.  Sometimes I just want a baked potato and a shrimp cocktail, and after being with him on three world cruises, Indy knows me well enough not to ask, “Are you sure that’s enough?  Would you like anything else?”  

 

Since we finished dinner at 9:30, we intended to go to the show which featured a “multi-instrumentalist.”  However, it seemed that we should first check out the Crow’s Nest, which was celebrating Brazil Carnival Samba Night.  We never did get to the show downstairs!  I don’t know if the dancing we were doing was the samba, but it was really fun and the dance floor was packed.  The Station Band was playing, but when they were done with their set, recorded Samba music just continued on.  We must have danced for an hour, and it was great fun.  Finally we decided that these old folks needed to get to bed, so we left about 11:00 and slept like babies.

 

People always ask me, “What do you do with all that time?”  My answer is that you do what you want, have fun at it, and last night was a great example.  

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I believe the number of passengers is just over 1200 and that about 1000 of them (a record) are on for the full world cruise.

 

For SJSU Librarian, the first book selection is The Air You Breathe by Frances DePontes Peebles, a Brazilian-American author.  

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2 hours ago, tennisbeforewine said:

I believe the number of passengers is just over 1200 and that about 1000 of them (a record) are on for the full world cruise.

 

For SJSU Librarian, the first book selection is The Air You Breathe by Frances DePontes Peebles, a Brazilian-American author.  

 

Thank you Diane. It is available at my branch library so will pick it up tomorrow. Sounds interesting. Barbara

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Thursday, January 16

Recife, Brazil

 

 

Well . . . it started out to be a good day.  Recife is a city of about four million (including the outlying suburbs) and sailing in reminds me of New York City with all the high rises.  The weather was beautiful (but a bit hot and humid for me).  Six of us had decided to take a taxi to Olinda, a suburb which is a World Heritage City based on its beautiful colonial buildings.  The shuttle took us into the city, specifically to the Casa de Cultura, a former prison in which the cells have been made into little shops selling Brazilian arts and crafts.  Several years ago we came here with our friend Sky and we had lunch in one of the “cells” on the second floor.  It’s quite an experience.

 

Our purpose was to find ourselves a taxi, so we went through the building to the street where they were located.  As we were negotiating with the driver, a young man and woman (probably early 20’s) ran up to Will and grabbed the heavy gold cross which he wears all the time.  They just ripped it off his neck, and in their hurry to escape, they knocked John over.  He fell backward, landing first on his back and then his head hit the concrete.  It was really scary for a while, but the cultural center security guard came to help and she called the police who came to check things out.  

 

The bottom line is that John has a sore tailbone and a headache, but no other signs of a concussion.  He even took a nap when we returned to the ship, but if he tries to play pickleball tomorrow, he’ll have to deal with me!  We did continue on to Olinda where we spent a couple of hours, but the morning’s events put rather a damper on the visit.  John and I walked off by ourselves and explored several of the side streets to appreciate the buildings.  Since it was hot and we need some hydration, we found a really nice open-air restaurant on the side of the hill with great views over the countryside, all the way into the city and our ship.  Since we weren’t hungry, we just ordered the national drink, called a caipirinha, made with sugar, limes, and a type of rum called cachaca.  We decided that alcohol was medicinal (thanks, Jan), and it did indeed help John’s headache.

 

We had originally intended to taxi back into Recife to investigate a couple of other areas, but with all that had gone on, we just had the driver take us back to the ship.  

One thing you need to realize about a world cruise:  there are no secrets!  By the time we went topside for sailaway, at least half a dozen passengers and a few officers came by to ask about “the incident.”  Having taught junior high for as long as I did, I did see the similarities.  Everyone was really quite kind and concerned and made us feel quite warm and fuzzy.  

 

I really do love Brazil, even though I know they have a high crime rate.  I know that the higher the poverty level, the more common this kind of crime is, and Brazil has a great deal of poverty.  I have learned a lesson, however:  don’t wear jewelry when you go ashore in Brazil!

 

P. S.  Regarding the photos, while I have mastered the job of transferring and choosing the photos I want, sometimes they just don't upload correctly.  For example, for Samba Night, I wanted to upload five photos, but only two "worked."

Today's experiment is trying to upload photos while sitting in front of the ship's main server at the end of the library - and it seems to have worked.  

 

A next day update on John:  the headache is gone, but the tailbone is really sore, so no threats are necessary regarding pickleball.  He's going to give it a couple of days (and a lot of Ibuprofen) and see if it gets better on its own.  Thanks in advance for your kind thoughts.  

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So sorry that John was robbed.  One thing we learned many, many years ago -- leave all good jewelry on the ship -- take little money and only 1 or 2 credit cards.  Had friends who were robbed in Italy.

 

Off the ship I wear only a cheap $10 watch -- neither of us wear anything else.

 

Hope John's tailbone improves.

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Diane, I am so sorry to read of John’s injury. Hope the pain subsides quickly. 
 

Did your friend, Will fill out a police report? I am not sure if there is any hope of finding his cross, but one never knows. 
 

But your pictures are gorgeous!

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I'm happy John wasn't injured any more badly than he was. This could have been tragic. 
Wishing him a speedy recovery, and the both of you no more adventures of this nature. 

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Wow, I hope John is feeling better today. My husband was robbed in Barcelona market place the night before we left on our Med cruise. 400 euro and all ID and CC. Luckily I had his passport. Police were kind, but it was a mess writing reports scared me to death.  

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glad John and ALL are a-okay... could have been a lot worse...  hope they are on the mend... best wishes for a speedy recovery..  as you know got to be 'low key' in any of these places... no jewelry is what we adhere to.. and anyway, can't chase like I used to when I was 'working' against the bad guys in 'my other life'.. one must adapt-- so I do .. continue to enjoy your cruise-- stay safe.. stay well 

Edited by Stakeout

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Friday, January 17

At Sea en route to Rio de Janeiro

 

As usual on a day after a hot and humid port, it’s pretty darned quiet on board this morning.  Even though the gym was almost completely full, the only noise was that of the torture machines . . . I guess I mean fitness machines.  Sitting on the Lido for breakfast with Rich and John, it was still fairly quiet.  Tonight will no doubt be different, though.

 

This evening is our third gala night in less than two weeks.  That’s really a lot, but after this one I think it’s almost two weeks before we have another one.  John and I like dressing up, but we have friends who dislike it so much that they always have dinner in the Lido so they don’t have to change out of shorts and tee shirts.  Of course that does make it easier (and lighter) to pack.

 

. . . . .

 

Continued on Saturday, January 18

 

The Gala Night turned out to be pretty interesting.  The ship’s description was, “Gold, Glitz, and Gleam Gala:  a great night to let it shine for wealth, grandeur and prosperity.”

As I looked around in the Crow’s Nest, I remember thinking that if I had a dollar for every sequin on display, I could sail in the ship’s penthouse for the rest of my life.  A few women were wearing long dresses, primarily in gold, completely covered in sequins.  A Dutch couple we’ve met, Jan and Leon, prepared well for every special event on this cruise.  Last night they wore sequin covered dinner jackets, one in blue and one in red.  Our friend Nancy had a short, gold-sequin-covered dress, but she wanted “a little extra,” so she went into the dining room while they were decorating with gold streamers, snagged a few, and added a shiny gold fringe to her dress.  It was spectacular. Not to be satisfied with just that, she took some of the gold fringe and added it to Will’s shoulders, creating some impressive epaulets.  Captain Jonathan told Will that now he must outrank him, so Will was now in charge of the ship!

 

I’m always amused by the fact that a gala night provides some consistencies on the menu.  If there are men in tuxedos, there will be surf and turf, escargot, and some kind of souffle as choices.  My choices were a bit different.  My first course was a chicken and soba noodle soup - much better than Campbell’s chicken noodle.  For a main, I had the mushroom risotto, since risotto is one of my favorite dishes.  Nancy ordered it too, explaining, “I really like rice.”  However, she’d never had risotto and after a few bites, she asked, “Why is it so mushy?”  I don’t think risotto will be on her list of favorite dishes after tonight.  

 

John’s main was five-spice lamb chops, and the bite he shared with me was excellent.  For dessert, we decided to share the vanilla souffle, but since Leslie, on his other side, had ordered two (!) desserts, he also shared with her, since both of hers were chocolate.  I love the way they serve a souffle, hot out of the oven with a small pitcher of warm sauce to pour over it.  Last night’s sauce was like a thin custard, and I didn’t let a bit of it go to waste.

 

We managed to leave the dining room shortly after 9:30 so we could get to the show almost on time.  The entertainer was Tim Abel, a pianist and raconteur (I don’t get to use that word very often) whom we had seen on last year’s WC.  We’d run into him on our way into the Crow’s Nest, and he’s just as friendly and pleasant as can be.  His piano playing is excellent, and the songs are interspersed with stories about his career and his young days in Newcastle, UK.  I do love his accent, too.  

 

After the show, it was time to call home, and we really are enjoying the ability to keep in touch with our daughter’s family while we’re away.  We’re using What’s App, an app that costs nothing and only requires that we be online to use it.  Since the ship’s internet, while still not anything to write home about, is all-inclusive, we can call any time we’re online, only being aware of the time difference.  Since we’re now five hours ahead of California time, we simply adjust and chat.  

 

Since this is the second of our two sea days before Rio, I plan to take full advantage.  I’d love to finish my book (right now I’m at 225 out of 500) so that I’m ready for book club, get in a bit more exercise, and catch up with some friends.  I might even get to this afternoon’s movie, Judy, a biopic of Judy Garland starring Renee Zellwegger. At least I’ll try to get in a short nap, always a hit on sea days.   

 

 

 

 

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If you think three gala nights in two weeks is a lot, sail on the Cunard Queen Mary 2. We did a 21-night cruise on that ship this past July, and there were seven formal nights. And people really took it seriously: I'd say that 90% of the men wore tuxedos or white dinner jackets, and 10% wore dark suits (I'm not including those who ate dinner in the Lido on those nights). It actually was fun, and there's no quicker way for a man to feel like the second coming of Cary Grant (even if he looks like me!).

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Everyone looks fabulous! Thank you so much for those pictures of people who really know how to get into the spirit! 

How is John today? Any lasting effects of his injuries yesterday? Hope he's still all right. 

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I'm really enjoying your posts, you write with such a positive energy.  Your smiles are infectious and it looks like you really know how to have a good time.  Thank you for taking the time out of your day to share your adventures with us. 

I hope John continues to improve and that's the only hiccup on your grand adventure.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

Rio - What can I say?  It’s huge (12 million people), old (lots of colonial buildings), new (the ultra-modern Museum of Tomorrow is right next to the ship), and the energy never stops.  We’ve been here once before, in 2012, when we visited the “Big Two,” Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado, home of  Christ the Redeemer.  We drove past Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches and had lunch at a crazily decorated restaurant where purses had to be clipped under tables to avoid “snatch and grab” thieves.  

 

This time, we were offered a “free” two day tour by Ben Brothers, one of the local jewelers, so we took them up on it.  Unfortunately, our “free” tour only cost us about $500.00 - but who’s counting?  More about that later.

 

We met Carla, our guide, at 9:00 this morning and headed out in our 12-passenger van to the Cathedral of St. Sebastian, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, an enormous structure that resembles a beehive gone crazy.  The interior, we were told, seats 20,000 worshippers, and its stained glass windows are beautiful.  We then continued to St. Candelaria, oldest church in Rio and the church of the rich and famous.  We’d visited those churches before, but our next stop, the Escadaria Selaron, was a new attraction for us.  Between 1990 and 2013, Jorge Selaron asked people from all over the world to provide tiles to cover 215 steps up a hillside between buildings.  There are over 2000 tiles from over 60 countries.  We saw a row of Holland America tiles, several from San Francisco and San Diego, and lots and lots of others.  Since today is part of a three-day weekend, the place was mobbed, and people stood in line to have their photos taken on the steps.  

 

Then it was time for lunch, so we headed to Copacabana Beach and, coincidentally, Carla suggested the same restaurant we’d visited eight years earlier.  Marius is absolutely unique; it has nautical decorations jammed in everywhere.  The ladies’ room had sand on the floor, sinks which are huge clamshells, and a ceiling covered with seashells.  The food is wonderful, too.  Diners help themselves to a huge array of appetizers, everything from cubes of avocado to fish soup to spicy shrimp to oysters.  Then, as you’re trying to eat your way through your (way too full) plate, the waiters begin coming around with the “real” meal.  There were two types of fish, grilled sirloin, grilled lamb chops, grilled T-bone steak, enormous grilled shrimp, and so on.  Oh my.  I was so full that tonight is the first time this cruise when I’ve skipped dinner and am writing instead.  Then we asked for the bill.  Oh my again!  It turned out that we paid more than we’ve ever paid for lunch except for one memorable meal at Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower.    All six of us decided to write it off as a “cultural experience.”  

 

Then it was time to pay the piper.  We headed to the jeweler’s headquarters where each couple met with an “expert” in jewelry, but of course the point was to have us buy something.  If you ever do this, please remember that “no” is a very effective word.  Unfortunately, we didn’t think about that until later.  Our friends learned it well and didn’t buy a thing.  We did, however, get a beautiful gift for a dear friend. 

 

It was finally time to return to the ship, $500 poorer but richer for wonderful experiences.  We never got to Christ the Redeemer, but that will no doubt be our first stop tomorrow morning.

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Now I know why we chose to do HAL's tours when we were in Rio many year's ago.  We were there 4 days and spent a little more than $500 on tours and saw lots of Rio.

 

Great report -- love the pictures.

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Just found your blog and I am really enjoying it.  I am reading some others but you add a different perspective and I love your pictures.  I am planning to do the 2021 World Cruise so this "gets me in the mood"! Thanks.

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Just got caught up again!! What wonderful 

pictures of all of your friends! Everyone looked glamorous and the men were so handsome!! I am sorry about the incident with John! Something like that just catches you off guard. Glad he is doing better.

Denise😊

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Monday, January 20, 2020 - Happy MLK Day

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

What’s better than a day in Rio?  Two days in Rio, of course.  We had planned for today to be less intensive than yesterday, and we succeeded in our goal.  When we parted with Carla yesterday, she said “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”  We figured we could use another half day of touring, including a trip to Corcovado, the mountain on which stands Christ the Redeemer.  

 

When we found the Ben Brothers shop in the terminal, Carla waved at us, but her boss came to tell us that while they’d be happy to shuttle us to Ipanema, home of their main store, we wouldn’t have a tour guide and vehicle available.  We read between the lines and realized that we hadn’t spent enough at the store yesterday to justify another day of touring.  Oh well.  

 

One of the nearby tour companies told us what a wonderful job they would do of taking us to Corcovado for only $48.00 US per person, but of course that didn’t include the $12.00 ticket to the statue.  We decided we needed a group meeting, so we kept walking and were set upon by the taxi drivers, who had offers aplenty for us.  One of them, Andreas, who spoke almost no English, was very low key and offered us a half-day tour for $30.00 each, including the entry ticket.  It’s amazing how much communication can take place with just a few words and hand gestures. He would drive us up the hill, pay for our tickets, and then meet us when we were ready to leave.  Such a deal!  We took him up on it, and then hopped into his van for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  As we raced through the streets of Rio, we realized that for Andreas, red lights were mere suggestions.  When we headed up the mountain, turns were taken at head-spinning speeds.  What an adventure!

 

When we were here in 2012, our CSI tour included a nice train ride up the mountain and then enough time to see the statue and take the requisite photos.  This time, we drove up the mountain and somehow Andreas talked to the guard in charge to allow us to drive clear to the entrance.  I guess it’s not what you know but . . . 

 

Disneyland has nothing on Corcovado in organizing groups.  Our tickets told us the number of our group and what time we should line up.  We had to wait all of ten minutes and at exactly 9:55, we were sent down some ramps to board vans which took us up to the statue itself.  

 

The statue of Christ the Redeemer does inspire awe.  It’s the tallest art deco statue in the world at 98 feet atop a 25-foot base, and Christ’s horizontally outstretched arms span 92 feet.   It was begun in 1921 and completed in 1931.  It’s made of soapstone and concrete atop a granite base.  The crowds which flock there each day take millions of photos, many with their hands outstretched and many while lying on the concrete viewing platforms to take advantage of the best view.  

 

We spent about an hour there and then headed down to the ticket office to meet Andreas.  Our “wild ride” resumed in reverse, and before we knew it we were back at the ship. Lunch was in order, followed by a walk of the port in order to spend our remaining 102 Brazilian Real, worth about $25.00 US.  By the time we returned to the ship, John had a new Brazilian tee shirt, I had a fancy black top advertising Copacabana Beach in rhinestones (I’ve never had a top with rhinestones), and we had two boxes of chocolates.  I would have just changed the money at the front desk (even though the exchange rates are terrible), but they had announced that they were not exchanging Real.  

 

A nap was definitely in order, and afterwards I had enough time to finish my Book Club selection before it was time for the sailaway party.  One of my favorite things about cruising is watching the ship push away from the dock; it feels like we’re heading into areas unknown.  Today was no different.  The best thing about this particular sailaway was that Captain Jonathan took us on a slow “drive” around the bay, enabling us to get good views (and photos) of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer.  Lots of friends were around, including our old friend Henk, the Hotel Manager, so we chatted and wandered and then spent quite a bit of time getting acquainted with the new Food and Beverage Manager, Roland.  He’s Dutch but his wife is Chilean, and he’s really looking forward to our port of San Antonio, Chile, when she and his six-year-old daughter come aboard for a month.  His daughter is already tri-lingual, speaking Dutch, English, and Spanish fluently.   

 

We now have two sea days coming up (Hooray!) and although this was a wonderful port, I’m looking forward to the rest.

 

S.  Thank you for your concerns about John.  He’s recovering slowly and may even try a little pickleball or paddle tennis tomorrow.  He’s missing them.  

The photos of murals I’ve included yesterday and today are from the walls near the port.  There are some incredibly talented artists who have contributed them.  

Also, we had a wonderful walk through the port, including a stop at the largest aquarium in South America as well as a Ferris wheel fashioned after the London Eye.  

 

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I’m really enjoying reading your review!  Thanks so much for taking the time to share your trip.  One funny observation, in your last posted photo, at first glance, I thought that was a witch riding a broom until I zoomed in and realized that it is a bird!

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