Coming Home

Seven days at sea ended today with a nine hour stop in Nassau Bahamas. To say it was anti-climactic is an understatement. I realize that it may be unfair to measure a country by your first impression/ their port or airport but after all, first impressions are based on what you see first.

I had never been in the Bahamas and I was anxious to see it so I was one of the first off the boat today at 9:30. It reminded me of the beginning of the movie “My big Fat Greek Wedding ” when they run the credits they continued to cross out Greek and add several other ethnic groups to emphasize the sameness of all. I have been in many Caribbean ports and I could not say that there was a noticeable difference. The smells, the music, the hawking taxi drivers, even the hair braided (although I would have given them quite a challenge).

So after a warm and humid walk looking at $25 tee shirts and $31 onesies, I decided that my family will just have to go without. I did take a picture or two just to prove that I was there and I returned to the ship to pack my bags for my return to the USA tomorrow morning.

Glad I saw it but I did make sure that I left nothing there so I have no need to return. I look forward to Miami and a visit with dear friends before my flight home. This has been a wonderful trip. It was all things one wants in a trip, I had great fun with friends, I learned things I did not know (including things about myself), I read a book a week, and averaged over 17,000 steps per day.

I wish all my gentle readers all the best that life has to offer.

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Listen to the music

One of the great things about a cruise is the shows every day. A mix of stars to be and stars who were with a few you have never heard of singing songs from proven stars. This along with the music that I listen to in my earphones while walking and at the gym are providing a form of music therapy.

Yesterday was a hard day emotionally in great part from the realization that it was Jean’s birthday. It was compounded by the way by two emails from dentists wishing her a happy birthday ( this after I notified them of her passing AND asked them last October to stop sending those messages).

Today I was blessed with the gift of actually listening to the music that was around me. The first lyric in the title of today’s blog. There were many others all day that seemed to be advice provided to me from above.

“Walk down that lonely road, all by yourself. Don’t turn your head back over your shoulder.” James Taylor

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. Louis Armstrong

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart. Carol King

You made me so very happy. I’m so glad you came into my life. BS&T

And many many more. I am OKAY and am doing fine.

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At sea

Cruising is a kind of reverse Fat Camp. We skipped the Azores and are now about 250 nautical miles south of the Azores and out if trouble. We are enduring 10-12 foot seas and walking is a bit of a challenge especially on the upper decks but I am having no problem getting in excess of 10,000 steps per day.

Although this is the smallest ship I have been in there is no issues with things to do. I have breakfast at 8:00, attend 9:00 Mass, and them walk 10,00 steps in deck 5 before going to the gym. I am listening to books while walking and have completed four so far. After the gym I hit the spa for a steam, catch some sun and perhaps a whirlpool, then shower and get ready for dinner.

I am meeting lots of interesting people but I am learning just how peculiar society is to single people. Showing up at the restaurant and being asked “Just you?” I know is not done to be mean but it is careless and sounds as though they are saying that they were expecting someone better. Also the where is your wife question is common and of course the strange looks as people are wondering my sexuality, whether I am on the prowl, or they are just nervous and uncomfortable.

I can handle it all but wish I didn’t have to.

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Recalculating

This was a first for my cruising life. We are scheduled to spend the day on Wednesday in Punta Delgada, Azores before a 6 day Atlantic crossing. However, also expected to be spending the day in Punta Delgada is Hurricane Lorenzo with at least 92 mph winds and 15 foot seas.

The Captain announced this afternoon as we landed in Lisbon that we will be leaving Lisbon early tomorrow and NOT stopping in the Azores. Instead we will be heading due south to avoid the storm and have 7 days at sea before we get to the Bahamas.

I expect that we will still be effected by the storm but I am glad we will not have to be buttoned up in our cabins with buckets and Dramamine.

Meanwhile I had a lovely day today walking about Lisbon with new friends and I look forward to another day tomorrow before we have seven days at sea.

Thanks to the internet package and the ability to download books. Oh, and the drink package.

Abrazos a todos

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Mijas

How things change and others stay the same. In December of 1979, we were driven by Glenn and Marcia Weidner to visit the “White Town” of Mijas as it sit hanging from the mountain overlooking Fuengirola. It was a beautiful day and, although I don’t know how the 5 adults and 3 children rode in that car, we enjoyed great views of the Costa del Sol and had a great lunch of paella and sangria. I can still hear the laughter and see Betty’s rosy red cheeks and those twinkling Irish eyes peeking over them as she sat in the sun and the sangria did its magic. Mijas is today larger and more commercial but still the gloriously situated white washed town it was four decades ago.

A view from the top overlooking Fuengirola and the Costa del Sol.

Mountain town streets

A bit of a side story about the brick building 50 yards up this street. It is the Museum of wine. I had an hour and a half to just walk about as part of my tour so it should be no surprise to those that know me that I ended up there. In there I met Lorena, an engaging Spanish beauty ( why do I keep meeting women in their 40s?). She is very knowledgeable about Spanish wines and happens to like sherry and my favorite brandy. I spent nearly all of my free time talking with her about everything possible. Yes she has also completed the Camino and yes she is a foodie. I shared with her the names of two good wine movies made in the US, she gave me the name of one from Spain. I told her of my experience of tasting olive oil infused with orange zest and she let me try her lime infused olive oil made by her mother. Fantastic!

What’s not to love about this country?

Spain

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Cruising

I look at this cruise as a way to get home. I have cruised many times before, although this is my first time alone, and this one just happened to get me back to the US for about the same price as a flight.

This is also my first time on Royal Caribbean. This ship, the Vision of the Seas, is quite small by cruise ship standards. It have all one needs but I was surprised at the small gym and my experience is mostly on the Celebrity line where there are many more choices of food.

I have also found a difference in clientele and a much more relaxed dress standard. Not that my Cunard experience with four nights in a tuxedo should be the standard, but I never found it snobby to require long pants in the dining room or to require shirts worn in the cafeteria.

We departed Barcelona Friday afternoon, spent a beautiful day in the amazing natural port in Cartagena na as we departed several hours later, we were treated to a great sunset.

As I write this, the sun is rising over Malaga where I plan to visit the mountain village of Migas, a favorite of both Jean and Betty from our first time here in 1979.

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Acceptance

I spent a life doing what need be

We saved so we would always be

But that is not what came to pass

The truth would truly kick my ass

But I could dwell on all the bad

And spend my life being sad

But I awake most every day

To gifts for which I humbly pray

A love so great that few could know

And friends and family my pride does show

This is my fate to live this life

That was the plan for my dear wife.

Amen

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A singular culinary experience

At the risk of overdoing, I have to tell the story of today’s lunch.

Looking for something more than tapas in my last day in Spain, I get on a cruise ship tomorrow morning, I set out in the neighborhood of my hotel.

I ventured a block and a half away and read the very creative menu in the window of a restaurant called Media Manga (half sleeve). It seemed impressive and after all, I have the money, so I stopped in.

I sat on a high top in clear view of the open kitchen. It was late for lunch in Spain, about 3:00. I ordered a salad and scallop dish and a bottle of Verdejo from the Rioja Region.

Caution: if food does not excite you or the details of preparation don’t make your heart beat faster, you may want to move on and read Barrons or something else.

The salad was prepared beats and orange wedges served with micro greens over burrata and dressed with evoo. It was simple and delicious and I am so sorry I did not take the time to photograph the presentation.

The main course was seared scallops and zucchini flowers. The portion was small but the flavors were out of this world. I loved how the chef thinly sliced the baby zucchini in three portions and presented them on the plate.

I had the pleasure of watching all elements of the preparation and the drama and teamwork of a high end culinary team at work. The chef, Benido, was a Sergeant Major as he presided over the most minute details of meal preparation and coached his people to a higher plain with every step.

After the kitchen closed at 4:00, I was able to observe the detailed cleaning and individual critique of every phase of the last shift. Like an after action review they each tasted and commented on the flavors and combinations of their creations. I spoke with Marta, the saucier and Georgia the salad and desert chef and watched them prepare everything in anticipation for the dinner shift.

It was like being back stage in the Bradley Cooper movie without the back story. I almost forgot to realize that I had a great meal, the show was so good.

Media Manga

Aribau 13. Barcelona.

34 93 832 5684

Www.mediamanga.es

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Barcelona

I arrived in Barcelona late yesterday afternoon and kept to myself. Today I took a wonderful walk through this city to a number of its iconic sites.

A beautiful city that exhibits a pulse like few others, I enjoyed walking and feeling the rhythm and sense of the city. It is young and alive and it’s spirit is projected at all who visit. As I walked, I dealt more energy every step. I walked from my hotel to the port where the statue of Columbus sits prominently on a column at the base of the Rambla, their pedestrian only park that has great restaurants and shops alone a mile or more heading up hill to the Plaza de Cataluña.

From their I had to walk to the most iconic place in Barcelona, the Gaudí masterpiece, the Cathedra of the Holy Family. Under construction for more than 100 years, this otherworldly arquitectural masterpiece cannot be described.

It is hard to believe that this visionary could have conceived if the methods necessary to complete his work but it is likely, finally, to be completed in our lifetime and you should all see it. Amazing from the outside, you cannot imagine the impact it has in you from the inside. The use of natural light gives the impression that you are in the presence of God herself.

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