Sunday, 31 March 2013

Gran Canaria - 9th March 2013

Arrive in Gran Canaria and it looks sunny outside - yippee!

We try out room service this morning.  I had weetabix, stewed figs with yoghurt and 3 pieces of toast with marmalade.  Mmm yum!

Down the not too scary gangplank and onto safe land.  Straight away I felt good to be in Gran Canaria.  The sun, the warmth, the light breeze, all conducive to feeling relaxed and happy.

We sit at a cafe next to Hibiscus flowers and see beautiful big butterflies and a cricket (or grasshopper or cicada).  It's so good to sit in the hot sun drinking coffee.

A couple off the ship take a photo of us

Interesting cacti display

We go off looking for shops.  But we only seem to find one big department store that looks a bit like Debenhams.  It has steps into it.  I'm not that bothered about finding a more suitable entrance.  I'm more interested in smaller quirky shops.  We don't find any though.  We do go into a shop which is like a downmarket poundstretcher and unsurprisingly don't find anything to buy.

And it's not often you come across a statue of a mad cat woman complete with circling cats

Two cat women
We return to the cafe for another drink and listen to a busker who has a lovely voice.

Mr Tropical
View from our table

We don't have lunch in Gran Canaria.  We're not really hungry and decide if we want something to eat we can return to the ship.  We go up onto the sun deck and eat a Magna ice cream and have a cup of tea.  The sun loungers are all full with people burning everywhere!

Later we go onto the promenade deck

It's nice to just sit and chill.

That's the great thing about cruising.  You can get involved in all the activities or do nothing at all.  We used to like doing nothing much, just enjoying the scenery.

We sailed off at around 5pm.  Andy and I returned to our cabin for a refresher and got ready for dinner.

Dinner tonight was whitebait for starter.  Gammon for the the main course with pease pudding.  And dessert was a yummy chocolate brownie with clotted cream and strawberries.  More heaven on a plate!

Tommorow we have a day at sea while we sail to Casablanca.  Thank you for visiting.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Tenerife - 8 March 2013

A great start today.  Up and early and up on the sun deck by 7.15 am.

Too early for Andy
Had a huge bowl of fruit followed by poached egg on toast.  Then more toast and marmalade with coffee.  Gorgeous!

The gangplank to portside was okay, not too steep.  

We know there should be a shuttle bus to take us into Tenerife but can't see any that will take a wheelchair.  Nobody we ask seems to know.  First they say '10 mins' and then have no idea.  We then learn that there is one wheelchair accessible bus servicing 3 of the cruise ships that are docked that day.  I don't like the sound of that because I'm thinking about coming back to the ship and whether we will have to wait so long we could miss the ship.  

My toe makes an appearance!
Other people in wheelchairs join us and we all agree that this disembarkation could have been better organised.  All the coaches taking the able bodied passengers are passing us and there are lots of them.  But none for us.  50 minutes later we are still there.  The other people in wheelchairs are in manual chairs and their carers are pushing them into town.  My chair is too heavy to push when in manual mode and the journey is too long especially going both ways so we wait.  Very disappointing though.  And yet again I'm thinking 3rd class citizen, it's hard not to think that.  There would be an outcry if there hadn't been any coaches for the able bodied passengers.  Seems it's okay for wheelchair users to be excluded.

I don't want Andy to miss out so I decide to give up waiting and head back up that gangplank.  That way Andy can go and check Tenerife out.  I plan to take my kindle and have a good old sunbathing session up on the sun deck.

Not much sun in Tenerife
As I get all settled and start enjoying my book (Diary of a FleetStreet Fox), it starts to rain.  Brilliant!  I take cover near the Horizon Grill section which overlooks deck 12.  Not many people out on the sunloungers.  Despite many people having got off the ship to visit Tenerife, you usually get people who don't leave the ship.  But the weather wasn't very good for sunbathing.

View of Tenerife from the stern of the ship
Tenerife is supposed to be Tropical but it feels a lot fresher than that.  And that's the English definition of fresh.  As in fresh = cold!

Wishing I could be onshore with Andy.  We love going to coffee shops and people watching.  I'm not watching many people up here.  Apart from one man who chooses to stand right behind me and smoke a cigarette!  He has the whole ship but no, he has to be near me.  Maybe he's lonely.  Anyway I go and find another place to sit and freeze.  A waiter offers me ice cream.  'No thank you' I need warming up, not cooling down.

By 2pm Andy returns.  He took a couple of photos but not many because he said there wasn't much to take

Globe cacti
 It's great to see him and we go indoors into the Plaza buffet for lunch.  I have some delicious Welsh rarebit with salad followed by a petit dessert


We spend time this afternoon taking photos of the ship.  It really is beautiful. The most beautiful place is the atrium, I think it's stunning.  Andy takes some great photos.

These two are both taken from inside the glass lifts.

Tonight's dinner is a posh fish and chips.

Our table flower
We sail off from Tenerife and have another nice view from our table

Andy's dinner, yum
And my favourite dessert on the cruise EVER!  Summer Pudding .... and I can't put into words just how delicious it was.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Summer Pudding

Thank you for visiting and I will return next week with our visit to Gran Canaria.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

La Palma - 7 March 2013

Wake this morning after a refreshing sleep.  But poor Andy hasn't slept so well.  He feels like he has a mouth ulcer and is trying not to worry that it could be an abscess.

We see Santa Cruz de La Palma first thing this morning through our cabin window.  It looks beautiful, a small volcanic island with beautiful brightly coloured buildings nestled inbetween its mountains.  I'm half expecting to see some dinosaurs appearing.

We get up to the sun deck early for breakfast and the sun is coming out.  It's so wonderful to be eating breakfast outside on a ship and arriving at a beautiful location.

Fruity breakfast anyone?
We dock at Santa Cruz de La Palma and walk to the shops.  Already you can feel the beautiful heat and the temp is around 20C.  So good to feel after the UK cold.

Easy to walk from the ship to the town
We find a coffee shop pretty quickly.  My main obsession is to get as much sun as possible so I get Andy to move a table away from the shaded umbrellas and out into the sun.  This makes me laugh because Andy is worried we will get into trouble with the cafe owner.  All is okay though and we sit there for awhile.

I'm happy to just heat up in the sun and write postcards.  So Andy wanders off to check out the shops.  He's back pretty quick to tell me there's a jewellers I'll be able to get into.  We see some pretty jewellery, including a lizard ring and necklace which Andy buys me ...... soooo lovely!

Andy takes some lovely pictures.  The architecture and colours are stunning.

At the heart of Santa Cruz runs the narrow pedestrianized Calle O'Daly, which was named after a banana merchant.  The street is lined with historic houses on both sides.

Plaza Espana, a pretty square bordered by the 16th century town hall and the pleasing Renaissance architecture of the inglesia del Salvador.

Locals having a chit chat

Lovely to see the mountain view through the street.

We buy a scratch card from a street vendor.  Andy tries a bit of pigeon English in the hope that if he speaks English in a Spanish accent, she'll understand him.  She doesn't.  We haven't a clue whether we've won on our scratchcard so we take it back to her and she tries to explain we haven't scratched off everything yet.  That takes awhile and she looks quite exasperated with our complete ignorance.  Then we realise, finally!  We hand it back to her, she puts it in her special machine to check whether it's a winner. I tell Andy to keep hold of the ticket even if she tells us we haven't won, she might just be pretending.  She might do a runner with our winning ticket.    But no, we see the result on the machine, it's not a win for us this time. "Sigh".

Back for another coffee, this time in the shade.  

Love seeing palm trees
We return to the ship around 2pm  Andy has a swim in the whirlpool and I sunbathe on deck 14.  Everywhere on the deck there are people sunbathing on the sun loungers.

As we didn't eat lunch in La Palma, we decide to eat some tasty potato wedges, a thai wrap, salad and a couple of chocolate cakes.  Yummmy.  Clothes are getting tighter!

Back to the cabin to refresh ourselves.  Before we know it it's time for dinner.

La Palma through the window
Tonight my choice is mushroom pate on oatcakes for starter.  And then the most delicious halloumi and flatbreads with roasted peppers.  And dessert is Greek yoghurt cheesecake with spiced blueberries.  It is heaven!

Heaven on a plate
At 9pm the ship sails away from beautiful (La Bonita) La Palma.  Andy and I go up on deck to watch.  

Sailing away from La Palma.  The view from the sun deck

So lovely.

Tomorrow we arrive in Tenerife.

Madeira - 6 March 2013

Good morning Madeira!
Woke with excitement.  'Andy, Andy, open the curtain.  Can you see land?'  Bleary eyed Andy sits up and opens the curtain :).  The ship is moving slowly and we can see the island all lit up.  The ship turns around and we dock at around 7.30 am.

You can see where our ship docked but this isn't one of our pictures it's a sunnier day
View from the ship

Despite the excitement, we manage to fit in breakfast.  Mine is melon followed by poached eggs on toast with bacon.

Excitement, we are getting off the ship!  The gang plank is, however, very steep and really scary.  I do not like it in a BIG way!!!  Three men come to help but I still do not like it, I feel like I'm on my way to my death.  But once I'm down (ok I'm trying not to think about the fact I have to get back up it!) the excitement of being in Funchal, Madeira kicks in.

The great thing is, there is a shuttle bus that can take 8 wheelchairs.  I am thrilled that there is such a thing.  We are dropped off in town.  The weather is coolish with a breeze but there is also a hint of humidity.  I have a t shirt on with a fleece.  No sun as yet and in fact it starts to rain pretty soon, but luckily we find a lovely coffee shop in Avenida Arriaga.

Love this cafe, very cool

After the rain clears, we explore a few shops.  I buy some souvenirs and postcards.  I sit and write out 6 while having another coffee.  We get pestered by a beggar but he soon goes off to another tourist after we say 'No' a dozen times.

A lovely church

Sitting outside the coffee shop

We walk around a little park.  The sun tries to peep through the clouds.  It's feeling warmer.

Much as though I'd love to explore everywhere, I'm concerned about how far my chair will go and whether I will have any power left for when I'm back on the ship.  Not having a back up wheelchair means I'm not taking any chances.  We stay around one area and just chill.

Although we don't spend a huge amount of time here.  I like Madeira and the Portugese people we did speak to, were nice and friendly.  'Obrigado' (thank you).

We return to the ship around 2 pm and go to the Plaza Buffet for afternoon tea.  Andy is tired so has a snooze while I update my diary.  The ships sails off from Madeira.

Dinner is delicious and Kate joins us once more.  I have an egg mayonnaise starter, italian meatballs with spaghetti followed by coconut pannacotta for dessert.

Exquisitely presented
Outside our restuarant on deck 6 (Ellora deck), is where the shops are.  They are having a sale tonight.  Andy buys me a beautiful ring, very glam it is too.

Back to our cabin with full stomachs for another deep sleep.

Thank you for visiting and tomorrow we will be in the Canary Islands visiting Santa Cruz, La Palma.