I’m absolutely knackered. I know this will not elucidate a particularly large wave of sympathy under the circumstances, but bear with me on this. I’m not the most energetic individual on Earth at the best of times, let’s face it, but three ports in three days has left me so tired I can barely speak, let alone stand. You will also need to bear in mind that we have gone back five hours in a matter of days, so my body clock is a bit fershmooshed.
Saturday was Nassau on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. A beautiful place. A very small town, maybe a third of a mile wide by half a mile deep. About the same length as the ship, in fact! Lovely old buildings painted in bright colours and ludicrously friendly people. Quite cheap but not amazingly so. Managed to buy a fair few things between us, though!
Visited Senor Frog’s. Quite a mental place, it really is. For the uninitiated, Senor Frog’s is a chain of bars across this part of the world and they’re a bit, um, mental. Not quite sure how to describe them. They have witty slogans on the ceiling (such as “If drunks could fly, this place would be an airport”) and congas around the bar. If you’re sloshed, it’s hilarious. Sober, it’s a bit harder work! I have now been to two, the one in Nassau and the one in Acapulco. I’m not deliberately trying to visit them all, but they are fun places, and their shops sell some very funny t-shirts. I wanted to buy “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional” but they didn’t have it in my size. Oh well, can’t have everything. I bought “Save water, drink tequila” instead. Far more ecologically sound a message, don’t you think? After all, water is a precious resource
I went sightseeing on foot and was astonished how far I walked, considering how small the town is, but my feet were screaming by the time we boarded in the evening. After dinner I had to charge my camera, download my photos, print the best ones and update my diary/scrapbook, so that it was all done before the next port in the morning, so that I didn’t forget anything or miss anything out. Took me til midnight to get it all done.
Sunday was Port Everglades. Had an earlier start than planned. Had to be “immigrated” (yes, that really is a word, apparently) into the United States during the morning, but my neighbours decided I needed to be woken up at quarter to FIVE to hear their drawers and cupboards being opened and closed, which was nice. Watched Vantage Point to pass the time until everyone else got up. Caught a free shuttle bus to the local mall (we had time to kill before our organised excursion). What a waste of time. The stuff was stupid expensive, there was only one set of toilets at one end (heaven help you if you were caught short at the other end!) and we think it is the first mall we have ever visited anywhere in the world where we bought NOTHING. Nothing at all. We ate a snack in the food court and beat a hasty retreat back to the ship to board our excursion coach.
Which broke down halfway to the Everglades. So we sat by the side of the road (in the coach, not on the grass!) for half an hour while they sent a relief coach. When we did finally get there, the airboat trip was AMAZING. It was so much more fun than I expected. I just loved flying across the water. It seemed funny that the thing is so light on the surface of the water that when it goes over water lily pads, they’re like speed bumps! There’s an audible thump as we hit them! We saw alligators, both in the water and on the banks and I saw a turtle in a tree! I suppose I’ve never really thought about it before, but it never dawned on me that turtles would be found in trees!
Then we were given a talk by one of the park rangers and then I got to hold Snappy, a 13 month old alligator (with all his teeth!), which was also deeply cool.
We then had to hurtle back to the ship. We made it in time before it sailed, but it was close! Dinner, downloading, printing photos, updating diary, etc. Bed at midnight again. Utterly pooped.
Today was Key West. Didn’t have to get up early today, we thought, but then late yesterday evening, they announced that the two cruise ship berths would be full and we would have to tender ashore. This means anchoring about 20 minutes out and piling into lifeboats to be ferried to the shore and this added an hour and a half to proceedings so instead of a 9.30 start, it was an 8am start. The whole process is slow and laborious and it didn’t help that there were 15 mile an hour winds and a swell of several feet, which not only made for an uncomfortable ride, but made boarding very treacherous and slowed the process down even further.
When we made it to shore, we boarded the Conch Train (pronounced Conk, don’t ask me why) which is a very cute little electric steam (-looking) locomotive on wheels which trundles you around the town while the driver (Marsha) give you an hour and a half talk on the sites and history. Very enjoyable and amazingly informative to boot. Thoroughly enjoyed seeing the architecture and hearing about the history of the place. It’s all very pretty wooden houses similar to New England style and all painted different colours, although mostly pastels here, whereas Nassau was mostly darker, brighter colours. The tour ended near the shops (which was nice) and we then pootled and shopped our way down the main street (Duval) until we found a place to stop and eat.
The food was lovely, although the service was a little, um, relaxed… It’s good to be in the States again. You can order what you like, with or without whatever you like and they don’t bat an eyelid. Superb. Anywhere else in the world if you asked for a chicken sandwich on burger bun not ciabatta, with no onion or tomato or cheese, even if they were willing and didn’t stare, tut, sigh or snigger, they’d get it wrong in some respect when it arrived. Not here. I love America, I really do.
Further shopping and pootling and then mum was worn out, so we went back to the tender to return to the ship. But they wouldn’t let us on. Apparently, as one of the cruise ships had left, Oriana was going to dock instead, as the tenders were such a hairy experience coming in. So we ate ice cream and waited for our ship to come in! Literally!
Mum and Dad went back aboard and I went back into town and found an internet cafe. This meant that I was in the right place when the Veterans Day Parade, about which no one had warned us, passed by, so I got to see that, which was nice. Then I had to leg it back to the ship so I didn’t get left behind! So here I am blogging when I should be doing all the downloading and so on. But at least, tomorrow is a sea day (AND the clocks go back tonight as well), so I have a nice, slow, relaxing day tomorrow, in which to get everything done.
So that is why I am knackered. See? I told you it was justified. . No one appreciates just how hard we work at this enjoying ourselves business, you know.