Monday, 11 September 2017

Panama Days 3 and 4

Did not get a post done last night - we had a very late dinner and then I fell asleep watching a movie.

All of today's pictures were taken with my camera - I did not bring my computer, so the pictures will get posted when we return home.

Today we did a Jungle Boat Cruise which was fascinating. We were picked up at our resort at 8:30 this morning and drove to local "marina" (I use the word with a grain of salt, however, it is descriptive. Along the way we saw some interesting birds' nest - apparently the males build these hanging nests - if the female doesn't like the nest, she destroys it. While we were waiting at the "marina" for our boat to be ready, I was able to get some pictures of a pelican - they are a lot bigger than I thought that they were. We then took our boat along the Panama Canal (discovered that the gravel laid down on the rail line is actually from Nova Scotia). Saw a huge container ship as well as a couple of the dredging machines that operate 24 hours/day, 7 days a week to keep the canal a uniform 64 feet deep.

After seeing some of the canal, the tour took us off the beaten path to see some of Panama's wildlife. We travelled through the rainforest to see several different animals - Panama is home to 3 species of monkeys, howler monkeys, cappuccino monkeys and white-faced monkeys. We say all 3, although the howler don't put on much of a show - they only ear leaves so they pretty much ignored us. The cappucin and the white-faced monkeys both climbed all over the boat, eating out of peoples' hands - they were absolutely adorable. We also saw a sloth, a crocodile, some ducks and some eagles.

We had lunch onboard a floating restaurant - a typical Panamanian lunch. After lunch we had the ;choice of fishing, kayaking or lazing in a hammock. Lazing in a hammock really appealed to us - how relaxing!

Returning to the city, we ran into their horrendous traffic again.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Panama Day 2

Woke up this morning to discover that it had rained - a lot - overnight. Great huge puddles of water all over the resort. The day has been extremely hot and humid, but no hurricanes. I added some picture on Facebook - some pictures of a thunderstorm taken from the airplane as well as pictures of the view from our balcony and of the interior of our room. There are several islands off the coast here and wall to wall - from horizon to horizon are ships waiting to make their way through the Panama Canal.

It rained for a great deal of the day today - we had so much rain that the ground simply could not absorb any more. We had a very quiet and restful day after the long and exhausting day yesterday.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Panama Day 1

Up this morning bright and early to catch the 6:30 shuttle from our hotel to the airport. Pushed away from the gate a little early and the pilot announced that our flying time would be about 30 minutes less than advertised. Taxied out to the runway and then were told that air traffic control have put us in a hold because of our route - through Florida and over Cuba - apparently a no- fly zone today. So ......... here we sit on the runway for what we are told will be 1 1/2 hours. I'm thinking that maybe this vacation was not meant to be.

Just as I finished writing the previous paragraph, the captain came back on the radio to say that the Sunwing dispatchers have managed to re-route our flight path and we should be leaving in about 19 minutes.

Despite our late departure this morning - we taxied on to the runway about 35 minutes late, however we were only about 5 minutes landing. That is when the next phase of our day started. With a plane full of people, the Dominican Republic had 4 immigration officers to process all of us - it took 1 1/2 hours for all of the people going to our resort to be processed through. Then ............ it took 2 1/2 hours to get from the airport to the resort. Two & 1/2 hours in a cramped van - at times with a maniac behind the wheel and at other time at a complete standstill.

We are here though - exhausted but here.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Day of Not Knowing

Since February we have been looking forward to our 2 week vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Thank you Hurricane Irma for a week of uncertainty. Hurricane Irma, the biggest Atlantic storm in recorded history; a Category 5 (or catastrophic) hurricane. Today she reached the Dominican Republic and there went out vacation. Thank goodness we booked our vacation through a travel agent who has been absolutely amazing today. She managed to find us a similar 2 week vacation in Panama City. We will staying at a resort called Dreams Delight Playa Bonita. We know nothing about the resort so far - we were confirmed 20 minutes before we left London for Toronto.

Tonight we are staying at the Premier Best Western Toronto Airport Carlingview Hotel where our car will live for the next 2 weeks. Our flight tomorrow is at 9:25 am.

I'll be back tomorrow night to let you know how our travel day went.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Bermuda - December 16, 2014

Our last port of the cruise. While we always enjoy sea days, I think that everyone on board was ready to actually see land again. For the 1 ½ days we’ve traveled a pretty significant weather system with some rain, but mostly with very strong winds that caused the swells to reach 15 – 20 feet. As a result, the ship has been extremely rocky – they actually closed all of the decks and the elevators yesterday because of the harsh weather conditions. The waves were crashing as high as our cabin on Deck 8.

This morning, however we arrived in the city of Hamilton, Bermuda – where, because of our small size we were able to dock in the middle of downtown Hamilton. Unfortunately, our shore excursion was cancelled due to lack of interest, so we simply got off the boat and wandered downtown Hamilton. What a beautiful city – all of the buildings are painted in wonderful colours from pale yellow to teal blue, but they all have white roofs. The people are very friendly – calling out greetings to us as we passed. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they know you or not.

This is a city that we would love to return to, to discover in more depth sometime in the future. In the meantime – 2 more days at sea and then our cruise is finished.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Sea Days – December 11, 2014

Day 2 at sea and this morning it was finally warm enough to have breakfast on our balcony. After we finished breakfast, we took some shots of the ship’s wake meeting the ocean swells which are about 10 – 15 feet. The blue of the water in the wake is almost turquoise.

This time out, we have learned to play 3 card poker and since we left Rome, we have done extremely well. Some days we are down a bit, but most days we come away with at least what we started with. Today, I won $400.00!!!! It won’t pay for the cruise, but it sure helps.

Madeira – December 9, 2014

After our second sea day, we arrived in Funchal, the capital of the Madeira Islands. These islands belong to Portugal and are also called the “Purple Islands” – probably a reference to the shadows cast by the towering volcanic peaks.

Today’s tour started with a scary drive up the second highest mountain on the island, called Pico de Ariero. This mountain stands 5900 feet above sea level. Two days before we arrived on the island, they had snow up here. When it snows they don’t allow the buses and taxis to drive up the mountain and it’s a darn good thing. Much of the drive up is along the outer edge of the mountain with a view straight down. Most of the trip up, there wasn’t even a guardrail. It was very cold up there – not a place to linger.

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped in the village of Santo do Serra where one of the island’s 2 golf courses is located. Here we were served tea and coffee and traditional Madeira cake.

From there we headed to the Blandy Wine Lodge. Established in 1811, Blandy’s is one of the oldest and most respected producers of Madeira wine. After some wine tasting, it was back to the ship and we headed out into the Atlantic for 6 sea days.