Two Days in Montevideo

Two Days in Montevideo 

Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd November

Nestled between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America. More than half the population live in the capital Montevideo. The city is full of colonial Spanish architecture  and miles of lovely beaches.

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Welcome to Montevideo……

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We set off on a coach trip and steam train ride.

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The coach trip around the city was a bit disappointing. There were some lovely parks and some interesting statues, but the coach didn’t stop, and took us around various residential areas. This trip would have been great if it was 2 hours shorter and we had got time to explore the parks!

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The tourist train station was very close to the old main railway station, which is sadly now closed and sliding in to disrepair. Its such a shame when buildings like this are left to rot and decay, but I suppose they just don’t have the money to spend on their upkeep.

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Graffiti gets everywhere, we passed these carriages on our walk to the steam train.

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The train ride was very comfortable but it took us through some very uninspiring areas, mainly the back of factories!

However, we were lucky (or unlucky, depending on which way you look at it) as the next day there was a national strike and none of the trains ran, not even the tourist train, so that particular trip was cancelled.

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At the end of the line we were picked up by our coach. Apparently it’s not advisable to do this trip without a guide as it ends in a less than desirable area!

We did get to stop at this statue which depicts the struggle that the early settlers had. It was close to the football stadium which held the first ever world cup in 1932. This is now a UNESCO protected site.

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The troops were in town today, not sure if they were ceremonial or that these were actual combat soldiers!

Day 2

So after a slightly disappointing day around Montevideo we were pleased when Kev came up with a plan for the next day.

He had been chatting with a young lady in the tourist office and she suggested a visit to a local fruit farm, La Macarena (the farm was here before the song!) which was on the edge of the wetlands.

We were picked up on the morning by the farm owner himself, and before setting off to his farm he took us to one of the great view points in the city. He told us that coaches no longer feel able to venture to this part of town for security reasons. Tourist coaches mean easy pickings for the local rogues but local cars have no such problems. So we got to see some sights our fellow passengers missed.

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Looking at the cars on the road it appears that they don’t have such things as MOTs. This old Ford Escort had definitely seen better days!

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The farm was 1/2 an hours drive from the centre of the city and it could have been a million miles away.  The roads were far quieter and it had a far more relaxed ambiance.

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The first thing we met on the farm were a pair of Capybara.   They are the largest rodents in the world, the two you see here are just babies!

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The next part of our trip involved a ride around the estate in the back of an ancient jeep.

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You can see Janes hands holding on for grimm death! It certainly was a great way to get around, although Jane and Val might tell you different!

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Jane looking cool after part one of her journey through the undergrowth !

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Part two took us on a boat ride through the wetlands

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Kevin was looking very nonchalant about the whole thing

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The farm owner had previously been an executive with Sony before taking on the family farm, and he was very passionate about his farming methods which concentrated on biodiversity.  He invited local school children to come and learn all about the eco system.

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We were the only people for miles around and it was so peaceful and tranquil.

He was telling us of the wide variety of wildlife in this area when a fish jumped out of the river and hit me on the neck, much to the amusement of everyone!  Here’s the little blighter in the boat afterwards before we threw it back in to the river!

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This beautiful plant is the national flower of Uruguay it is called Ceibo.

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I don’t think this landing jetty would pass UK health and safety requirements!

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Or the jeep…..

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Mind you , it did the job!

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The next leg of the journey to the fruit orchards was incredibly bumpy!

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… as you can see from Jane’s expression!!

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Meanwhile back at the ranch…..

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A fantastic meal was being prepared…

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Whilst we were waiting for the meal I had chance to take this picture of a humming bird. I’m so pleased with this photo as they move around so quickly!

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Above our table was the humming birds nest and you can just see the beak of the baby awaiting its next meal.

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Its amazing that he can run a farm on this scale with such an old tractor!

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On the way back to the ship we were informed that this wreck of a ship was involved in the Battle of the River Plate (look it up, I can’t remember all the details)

So all in all a great day, probably one of the best on the trip so far. Well done Kevin!!!

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Rio Day Two

Rio de Janeiro Day 2    

19th January 2018

An early start today as we are on a pre-booked P&O tour.

A few facts for you:

Brazil is 35 times larger than the UK.

It covers nearly 1/2 of South America.

55% of the country population is under 25years old.

Rio was the capitol of Brazil until 1960.

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We are off to visit Rio’s two biggest tourist attractions, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado (Christ the Redeemer)

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An early starts helps to beat the traffic of this bustling city

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It also means we were amongst the first visitors of the day to reach the summit of Sugar Loaf. It takes two cablecars to get you to the top and thankfully this was done with the minimal of queuing.

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The views from the top were stunning, on one side you could see the city centre…….

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on other the beaches….

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and right across the bay.

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Mind you these fantastic vistas come at a price…….. it was bloody hot! (not much of a price I agree!)

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An hour away on our air-conditioned coach, we arrived at the  station to catch our cog-wheel train to the top of Corcovado. There is a heavy police presence around every major tourist attraction as Rio has quite a high crime rate, especially pickpocketing in these places. That said I never felt intimidated and as long as you are sensible, no flashy jewellery, watches etc and didn’t go down any dark alleys you were fine.

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The statue of Christ the Redeemer was finished in 1931 and has been keeping a watchful eye over Rio ever since. (The statue is the one at the back!)

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I never ever thought I would be lucky enough to experience this truly magnificent sight.

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The viewing platform was absolutely packed but we did manage to get this picture together.

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There was a visiting Cardinal giving a blessing, this also added to the throng of people.

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Rio is very expensive for most of the inhabitants to live in so a lot of people have to resort to living in favellas, which are fairly lawless areas of town which are totally out of bounds for tourists.

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After a great day out it was time to leave this vibrant city.

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It is definitely a place I would love to come back to. It was lovely to set sail as the sun was going down.

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Although some people were more interested in sorting out their e-mails!

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Maybe we should try a helicopter ride next time!

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Our last view of this city was of Copocabana beach just as the street lights were switched on.

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After our fun packed day, back to the harsh realities of life, the washing still needs to be done!

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and this poor lady had been ironing for 3 hours!

 

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Rio De Janeiro Day One

Rio de Janeiro Day One

We were up at 5am as we were advised that the sail in to Rio de Janeiro is one of the most spectacular in the world

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It was great to see the bright lights of this famous city stretching before us

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Christ the redeemer really stood out as he kept his eye on the sleeping city below

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Everywhere you looked there was a photo opportunity not to be missed

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The sun began to raise its head above the distant hills

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There were quite a few people up on deck so you had to be quick to get your shot

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We both had to pinch ourselves, we were really sailing in to Rio!

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Never in a million years did I expect to be here!

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We were followed in by another two ships, its going to be busy in town today!

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The sides of the docks buildings were covered in an interesting mural.

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Still pinching myself, we are on Copacabana beach!!

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Kev and Val are seasoned travellers who have been here before, and even they were excited! Don’t you think Val looks cool by the way ?

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Tall and tanned and lean and lovely, I stepped up and took this picture of Ipenema beach!

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Unfortunately Jane had forgotten to pack my leather thong and string vest so I had to improvise ! Val said it was the first time she had seen me without rosy cheeks! Kev offered me his but it was a little on the skimpy side!

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My god it was lovely in there, a welcome relief from the 35c heat.

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The girls welcomed the sit down.

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Can’t think why I took this shot!

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Putting the world to rights!

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The vendors on the beach had ingenious ways of carrying their wares!

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In the afternoon we took an extremely hot bus ride to the Botanical Gardens. Kev bravely figured out the bus routes and for less than £1 each we arrived at our destination! Not sure I would recommend the un air-conditioned buses as I sweated in places I didn’t know I could sweat!

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This chap can be seen from all over the city and tomorrow we are going up to see him!

 

 

 

 

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The Choir and Formal Evening

The Choir and Formal Evening.

Tuesday 16th January 2018

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Jane and Val had gone to the choir rehearsals virtually every sea day since the cruise began. Today was the day of their first performance. The crowds poured in to the Curzon theatre (well it was mostly the choristers other halves). We were all entertained with a very polished show!

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That evening was one of the formal nights, there are 16 in all on this cruise.  Here we are with Jill and Barry, Val’s sister and her husband.

 

 

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Aparently Its a hard job and a worry for the ladies to select the right evening dress. I can’t see why because all the ladies on my table always look lovely! (I wonder if there are any brownie points to earn here?)

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Us chaps on the other hand have the more onerous job of selecting the right colour bow tie and finding cuff links to match!

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Jane and Val looking very chic!

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I know, if it wasn’t for the stupid grin………..

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Now thats more like it! (Groan, now it’s my turn for the stupid grin!!! Editor)

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Buzios

Wednesday 17th January 2018

Buzios, outlined by beaches and secluded coves, is a beautiful beach resort on a small peninsula in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The town is full of lovely shops where I bought some T-shirts and Jane bought a sarong. Armação dos Búzios, often referred to as just Búzios was an almost unknown fishing village until the 1960’s when Brigitte Bardot chose to escape the paparazzi hounding her, and then boyfriend Bob Zagury, on a visit to his native Brazil.

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The shops were all situated in shady avenues and all had air-conditioning which actually made shopping a pleasure (don’t tell Jane!)

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And the shops which weren’t air-conditioned made up for it with lovely views!

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The statue of Brigitte Bardot has very shiny knees; apparently lots of people stop to have their photo taken at this spot, can’t see why myself!

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Another great statue depicts the fishermen bringing in their daily catch.

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And it’s here fresh and ready for sale!

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We took a leisurely stroll from the quay along the front to find a beach.

 

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This young lad seems horrified looking at the lady in the thong……………. however it was a pleasant way to pass the time for me!

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Jane took her first dip in the sea!

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Whilst I kept a sharp look out for the thongs……………

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Some more shocking than others!

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The beaches that were within walking distance from the town were very crowded. We asked a local why the beaches were so busy on a Wednesday in early January and he said its because it’s the middle of their summer holidays.

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Jane with a tender behind.  Búzios was our first port of call where we had to use a tender. This is generally fine, however  on the return leg we were left to bob about for about 10 minutes whilst the ship repositioned before we could board.  I think Jane turned as green as her dress!!

 

 

 

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We set sail at 5.30pm from this lovely place. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a relaxing break.

 

 

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Salvador

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15th January 2018

Another bright sunny day for our trip around Salvador. The temperature today has been forecast 33c so we must take loads of water with us!

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Also make sure we put on our sunscreen and wear a hat!

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The bright colours are amazing. Everywhere you look there is something vibrant to see!

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Plenty of gift shops selling sarongs, maybe they might suit me?

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The local dress hasn’t changed in years, however it does look odd when a mobile phone is in hand!

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The houses are bright and colourful but on closer inspection you can see that they are in quite bad repair which adds to an atmosphere of faded elegance.

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Jane was being a bit foolish taking her hat off at midday, she likes to live life on the wild side!

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He’s got a lovely bunch of coconuts!

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Kev was doing his best to look intellectual and gave us all a interesting talk on 17th century tiles!

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The historic centre of Salvador.

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We were warned to be very careful of pickpockets in the city.

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But there was a large police presence which made us all feel safe.

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As the heat of the day rose the city became quieter and it was easier to get around.

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5pm and we sail out after a lovely visit.

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K&V waving an emotional farewell to Salvador

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Crossing the Equator

13th January 2018

We crossed the Equator in the early hours of the 13th of January. We didn’t feel a thing despite the captain telling us all not to be worried if we heard a loud bang in the middle of the night!

There was a “crossing the line” ceremony the next day at the more civilised hour of 2pm.

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King Neptune, accompanied by two glamorous assistants, held court over anyone who had never crossed the equator before.

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His not so glamorous wife also made an appearance.

 

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K&V had already crossed the line before so they felt safe being close to the action!

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The ceremony consisted of a few games between two teams of the crew, officers and other ranks!

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And regardless of whether you won or lost, you still ended up having to kiss a fish and have copious amounts of gunge tipped over you!

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And here are our certificates to prove we have crossed in to the Southern hemisphere !

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Update From Salvador Brazil

As you can probably guess the internet connections are infrequent and not always of the best speed so hopefully this will get through!

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End of Day 5

The sun was setting as we left Funchal in Madeira. We managed to call home and speak to Dad and Charlotte and let them know that we were both well and had survived the storm on the cruel sea!

Days 8&9 mainly involved eating and a lot of sun-bathing.

Jane and Val have joined the choir and are preparing for their first concert on the 16th of January. Val has performed before (her CD is still available on back order) but this will be Janes first starring role!

I have entered a few golfing competitions.  These are played on a simulator on the top deck between a group of 15 of us, and are a nearest the pin game.

We have also found time in our busy schedules to attend a few lectures and to see a few shows, with the best so far being Elektra the two lovely girl violinists.

Captains Log Day 8  Mindelo, St. Vincent, Cape Verde.

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The Cape Verde islands are a collection of barren islands about 400 miles off of the west coast of Africa.  Formally a Portuguese colony these islands are now independent .

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The busy fish market seems to be the centre of the main town.

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There is a small crowd on the pier awaiting every boats arrival.

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The fish is then bought and taken the short distance to the market where it is prepared for sale.

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A short distance across the road is the fruit and veg market where it seemed that lettuce was a popular choice.

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Just a short 10 minute walk to the other side of town brought us to this rather run down area.

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The Cape Verdes coast guard vessels looked to me like something from World War 2, and the guards on board looked pretty menacing!

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After a long walk around the town we found a cafe with great views of the beach and free internet, so we were able to catch up on e-mails and Facebook but I didn’t have time to do my blog. I really can’t understand why, in this day and age, we can’t get free internet in the middle of the Atlantic. I mean to say, what on earth are we to do with ourselves when we are beyond reach of social media?!!!

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After a frantic 1/2 hour on the internet it was time for my first swim in the sea of the holiday. The beach had a steep slope into the sea and I was under the water slightly quicker than I had anticipated! The water was warm and very refreshing, and after our walk it was very welcome.

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The stroll back to the ship took us past a cruise ship that had seen better days.

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At about 5pm we set sail for our next port of call, Salvador in Brazil.

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A last view of  Mindelo as we sailed out.

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11th/12th/13th/14th January-Sea Days

We have settled in to a nice routine during the sea days….

06.45        Ian has 1st breakfast.

07.00        Ian in gym for stretches.

08.00        Ian on cross trainer

08.45        Ian gets off cross trainer          (yes really!)

09.00    Shower and shave.                     (Jane is ready to go)

09.30    Ian has 2nd breakfast, Jane has 1st.

10.00    Port talk

11.00     walk around deck  (3.2 laps = 1mile)

11.30     sun bathing

12.15     Ian golf, or photography.   Jane choir.

13.30    Light lunch, well for Jane anyway!

14.30     Doze/sunbathing.

15.30    Afternoon tea.

16.30    Game of Scrabble/Upwords.

19.30   Dinner

20.30   Show

22.30   Quiz/disco

00.00    Bed

I have enrolled in a short photography course. Its only when you take your camera off the automatic settings that you realise how much you have to learn.

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This is a portrait of Lauren, one of the ship’s photographers running the course. She is far better looking in real life and this photo shows how much more I have to learn!

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This a shot of Hayleigh, the boss of the photo gallery. This time I’m trying to create different textures and light to produce different effects.

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The office I use to produce this blog varies from dad to day.

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Today’s choice is in the shade at the back of the ship with a slight breeze, which is very pleasant.

Later on in the day Kev and Val will be taking part in the deck games of shuffleboard etc, I did want to go and watch but Jane said that it might be classed as “quoitus iterruptus”!

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The ship has several themed restaurants, which for a small cover charge you can try for a different “special” evening !

This one was The Beach House, which served excellent steaks and had the added benefit of being outside.

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Madeira

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Sunday 7th January

We arrived in Madeira on Saturday night, which was earlier than expected. The captain had decided to sail full steam ahead to avoid another storm that was due. Sunday morning the clouds were starting to disappear and the sun was trying its best to make an appearance .

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By the time we had walked in to Funchal everything was looking a lot better, apart from my stomach (and it’s only day four of a sixty five night cruise!)

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If you look carefully you can see the captain giving us a wave, well he did have a lot to spare!

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After an open top bus tour we both fancied a cup of coffee, Janes looked a lot lighter in colour than mine.

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The view from the coffee shop was lovely and quiet, not many of our fellow cruisers walked as far as us today!

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I have never really been that much of a great violin fan before, but listening to Elektra last night has changed my point of view, and when we met the stars of the show in town today and they asked to have their photos taken with Kev and I, well I was totally sold!

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Captains Log day One

After a full days packing on the Tuesday, we are now ready to pack the car.

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The car is far more loaded than when we set out on one of our two month long road trips, mind you I suppose we do store a load more stuff in the caravan.

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It is great living where we do as we can be at the cruise terminal in less than 1/2 an hour and the holiday stars then!

The check-in was easy, however the security was anther matter! The lady on the x-ray machine found a strange foreign object in Jane’s carry on suitcase. On further inspection this turned out to be my swiss army knife that I had packed just in case …….. Well we can all laugh about it now…….can’t we ?

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We boarded the ship at 12.30 and the suitcases made it to the room some 6 hours later, I was really worried that all my gowns would be creased, they weren’t and neither were Janes.

The port of Southampton looks far more magical at night, the dark can hide a multitude of sins!

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As we left port at 6pm we were treated to a tremendous firework display and we were on our way!

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That evening we met up with our friends Kev and Val and her sister Jill and her brother inlaw Barry for a drink and a meal.

We both awoke Thursday morning feeling a little bit worse for wear. To say we were feeling queasy would be an understatement! We hadn’t had much to drink the previous day, so it must be the  dreaded “mal de mer”.  I have never truly been sea sick before and this was so debilitating that I missed not only going to the gym but my breakfast as well! Jane suggested that we have an injection that she had heard of, that they dispense at the sick bay on deck 5. Well I couldn’t get out of bed so she went down on her own, when she returned she said she could feel some minor improvements. So I dragged myself down there to have my injection, and after a 2 hour doze I was right as rain and eating my lunch!

The sea was so choppy that one of the ladies giving a talk rushed off the stage with her hand over her mouth leaving someone else to continue.

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After lunch a walk around the prom deck to get some fresh air and to do our daily mile was a refreshing way to spend 1/2 an hour.

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The good feeling continued and I managed to demolish the superb evening meal !

I awoke early, full of renewed vigour, I looked out of the window and saw that the sea was still in an agitated state and that the white horses were still in abundance! So set off upstairs  for my first breakfast of the day with a little trepidation (well you can’t go to the gym on an empty stomach !).  I got to the gym at 7am only to find that they don’t let you use the cross trainers and running machines until 8am, so I had to make do with a few weights and some stretches for an hour before the serious  work began.

After a quick shower I joined Jane for the second breakfast of the day (this was the serious one, eggs and bacon etc) and then to plan the rest of the days activities.

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The sea was really rough again today, and even the crew were complaining about how ill they felt.  Jane wasn’t feeling so good too day either so after the first lecture she  went to spend the rest of the day in the cabin and I fell asleep during the next talk!

Day 3

The sea was still rough and the ship was rocking and rolling like it was at a chuck Berry concert! Good news, Jane was feeling a bit better and said she would be up for breakfast when I got back from the gym. Todays first breakfast was porridge, I think I’ll give that a miss from now on and stick to muesli for my pre exercise snack!

Today events included a lecture on “walk active” a talk on  Salvador, our first port of call in Brazil and a classical concert in the afternoon. This evening we are going to see the “Runaround Kids” a great 50’s & 60’s rock and roll band from Ireland in the main theatre, and then after our meal Elektra will be entertaining us with their virtuosity on the violin.

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