TRAVELSCRIBBLES is a blog featuring travel reports, advice, and idea sharing for those interested in both domestic and international exploration.

Roger Sauer and his wife Donna have spent years traveling the world but have many places yet to see. You can follow their past and current travels here as well as post comments and questions about places they have visited.

Roger and Donna travelled to New Zealand and Australia in September, 2013. They will be in Paris in September 2015 with a train trip to Nice and Barcelona. They will then be aboard the Disney Magic (again) for a transatlantic cruise to Miami. Follow their travels on Twitter @rsauer3473.

Donna and Roger own Disney Vacation Club memberships at Old Key West and Beach Cub resorts in Walt Disney World. They also have other timeshare interests in Maui, Cancun, Orlando, and Palm Springs.
Feel free to contact them at 503-585-3473 if you would like rent one of these properties.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

European Trip and Transatlantic Cruise Parts 5 and 6

BARCELONA - September 17, 2010
The rain last night turned into a real storm in some nearby towns with some flooding and avalanches of hail sliding down into streets and garages. Fortunately we were in our room all cozy.

The Disney crew was setting up in the lobby by 9 AM, so I went down to the lobby to get us registered. It was a simple process, though I had to call Donna to bring down our passports because the cruise line actually checks people in at the hotel for their cruise. The clerk gave us our keys cards, silver status lanyards, and other information. We spent some time packing and only went out for a little window shopping. Donna really liked a store we have seen in other places but here there are several under the brand Desigual (but with the s reversed). Very bold, colorful clothes. At a bookstore nearby we picked up two books to read. I considered, but rejected buying a book, We the Drowned, given our destination the next day.

We had lunch at the hotel's restaurant called CentOnze (111 in Catalan, the address). The food was very good. Donna had cod and I had lamb chops. This was the most reasonably priced hotel food on our trip- €16 each.

Later we watched the awful Spanish television for a while as it had begun to rain again.

ONTO THE MAGIC- September 18, 2010
Our last day in Barcelona began with our getting our bags packed and set by the door so the staff could pick them up to take to the ship. I ran over to the Carrefours store to get a bottle of Bailey's and wine for the ship. We had to wait until about 12:30 PM to get on the bus, but before that we had the chance to meet some others who would be on the cruise as well.

The trip to the port did not take very long and, as we had already checked in, all we had to do was go through security, show our key cards, and walk the gangway into the ship where we were announced to the staff. We went up lot Topsides for lunch. I may have been wrong, but this ship does not seem very full and there are very few. Children and fewer teenagers. Our room was ready by 1:30 PM so we walked down to deck 5 aft where it was located. Very nice room. Some Castaway Club gifts as well.

Without our luggage, we did not have much to do, so we walked around a bit and settled in near the Cove Cafe after reviewing its lending library. We endured the mandatory emergency procedure muster at 4 PM by which time our luggage began to appear. Our bag with souvenirs and books was missing but was eventually found next to another room. There was a party of sorts on deck 9 to celebrate our departure though the ship did not leave until 9:30 PM. We were given little streamers on a stick to shake around. We met some folks from Eugene there.

Our first dinner was in Animator's Palette. We were seated at a table for six but there was only another couple there with us. They are retired from Vancouver, Canada, and have been traveling in Europe since May.
After dinner we walked around, did some shopping in the stores on board, and eventually went back topside to we the ship leave by actually turning 180 degrees around narrowly moving past a larger Royal Caribbean liner behind us then heading out to sea. It was after 10 PM before we got to bed, much later than the past few weeks. We read a little: Donna read her new Spanish cookbook purchased earlier (at 50% off as the ship was discounting its 2010 Mediterranean merchandise) and I read the Navigator for the next day's activities.

AT SEA- September 19, 2010
Last evening Donna took an anti- seasick pill so as to avoid nausea on our first night. Unfortunately, the seas were calm and Donna had a bad reaction with some dizziness and sleepiness all day. I brought a few items from the breakfast buffet early hoping it might make her feel better then headed for the full buffet later.

We attended a DVC presentation with too many people in too small a space. A mimosa later, we left with two more DVC hats putting our totals DVC hat inventory into double digits. Then we went to lunch then I swam while Donna laid in the sun. Donna wanted to take a nap, so I went down to the art auction here few people bid on the pieces and there was a drawing for a painting. Donna was still sleeping when I came back to the room, so I read and took a nap, too.

When we got up, dinner had already started so we figured we would go to the buffet on deck 9. However, the dress for the evening was formal and even the buffet had spruced itself up and offered a menu dinner, not the regular buffet. So we went back to our room and did room service. Cool. And we watched a movie.

GIBRALTAR - September 20, 2010
Donna was feeling better today and we were up before 6 AM. I could see the Rock of Gibraltar and the lights of the city.  Swarms of seagulls fly around the side of the ship and the smaller boats could be seen below.

We ate breakfast then waited until the announcement was made about the process to leave the ship. We had been told about the possibility of rain and naturally as soon as we cleared the dock area it began raining but only briefly. We walked into town past tall apartments and small store fronts. Many shops were closed and most featured alcohol, jewelry, or electronics. The main street was both pedestrian walkway and delivery lane for trucks.

Intending to try the cable car that went to the top of the monolith, we walked along the street and finally we reached the cable car station. Then a young man approached us and told us the cable car was closed due to wind and that we should take his van up to the summit for only €50. We declined and started walking back via another path closer to the water.

The aim of our walk was basically to return to the ship via Morrison's, a large supermarket near the docks that used to be a Safeway. In fact, some of the tour buses show Safeway as one of their stops. Once at the store, we picked up some wine then carried it back to the ship. It had just rained so it was warm and very steamy. A nice shower was in store once we returned.

We had lunch at Topsiders then went to the adult pool area where I used the pool and Donna read. Of course, by this time the sun had broken through and the cable cars were moving up and down the mountain. Then we walked around and went back to the room where we had a glass of wine and watched Leap Year. Cute movie.

Dinner was at Lumiere's; the dress was cruise casual and the menu was French. Our table mates of the first evening were absent and we found out that they were not there last night. (Of course, neither were we!) On Tuesday we found out they has opted for a later dinner session at 8:30 PM.  We asked to be at another table after that night as it was awkward to be the only two at a table for six. The maitre'd said he would arrange it. Following dinner was a Beatles tribute band playing in the big Walt Disney Theater forward. It was very festive and loud, but both of us were tired from our day and we returned to our room and read for a while right after it was over.

IN THE EASTERN ATLANTIC- September 21, 2010
We actually slept in this morning which could have been difficult given that we turned our clocks back one hour. For a day or two we will be 8 hours ahead of Oregon time. This is a day at sea and tomorrow we will be in Madeira, a Portuguese island where we will spend our last 20 euros. We made a reservation to go on a bus tour through part of the island.

Later we spent time by the pool and up on deck 10 o get some sun. After lunch we checked on our reservation for a couple's massage. I am glad I called as it was scheduled for later that afternoon. Before we went to the spa we sat out on a deck and read.

I decided it was time to do the email, so we headed to the Cove Cafe to set up the wireless. If you get this message, it means I was successful.

No luck. Well, the connections was so slow, I decided to try to find a wifi area in Madeira tomorrow.

We went to the Vista Spa for our couples massage early and waited for a while in separate lounging areas. Two girls, Lauren (Ireland) and Juan Mare (South Africa) met us and took us to the couples massage area. The treatment was for 50 minutes and we expected to get out in time for dinner, but we did not. However, we both felt the experience was wonderful. At the end of the massage, while our eyes were still covered with some sort of scented material, the girls put our hands together and rang a little bell. Nice touch. We spoke to them later and asked about their backgrounds. They were looking forward to their time in Florida, but apparently staff are used to help clean and work on the ship when it is in for its dry dock period.

Having missed our regular dinner service, we had a glass of wine and watched some CNN, then proceeded upstairs to the Topsider buffet.

Meanwhile the ship that had been gently rocking in calm waters is now sailing through waters best described as a lake. Very calm and glassy.

MADEIRA -September 22, 2010
Even though the wake up call service failed to operate we were able to get up, eat, and get to our meeting place for our Views and Parks tour. Packed into a long touring bus we left the port and maneuvered through the narrow streets of Funchal and up to the top of a high promontory overlooking the sea. The area is under construction and the bus and car parking left little room for movement. Eventually there will be a glass floored walkway out over the cliff. Right now there is a cobblestone path bordered with souvenir peddlers.

Back down the mountain that was lined with terraces and gardens filled with grapes and banana trees, we visited Camera de Lobos, a fishing village where we tasted a sample of Madeira Poncha, a punch made from rum, lemon juice, and honey. Very sweet and tart. We later found out we had been given a variant version of the drink with passion fruit.

Around the small bay where we were was a restaurant named after Winston Churchill who liked to come to this island and paint in the 1950's. Our guide also provided is with a wooden pestle to be used in smashing the lemons for the drink. She also gave us a recipe for the poncha.

We then went to downtown Funchal where our ship is berthed. We looked for a post office to mail postcards. Then we met up with our group again at the wine shop where they were doing a tasting that we had passed on.

Back on the ship we had the buffet lunch up on deck 9 then decided to do some laundry. This was our second attempt at doing this and the first time someone had taken our clothes out of the dryer and taken over our machine. This time we stayed in the cramped room until things were done. We then went for a walk on deck 10 ( three laps is about a mile). The weather had gotten cloudy but it was still warm and humid. The town of Funchal is very beautiful with its red roofed houses cascading down the steep slopes of the island. Madeira is much like Maui with its plant life- many plumeria, palms, and even Norfolk pines like those around Kapalua. We would not mind coming here again.

Our dinner was in Parrot Cay at 6 PM and we were with a nice couple from Colorado. The ship left port during our dinner and by the time we were done eating the ship was really rocking. The captain left the port earlier than scheduled as there is a growing storm in the Atlantic, Lisa, and he wanted to avoid it.

Deciding not to go to the magician show, we stopped by one of the shops and Donna bought some pressure bands to avoid sea sickness. Many others also had the same idea; there was a real crowd. By the time we left the ship was in what appeared to be rough water. We went up to deck 10 to see. The western sky was beautiful and we could see the bow of the ship bobbing up and down in contrast to the crimson horizon.
We spoke to an officer who told us that the ship would avoid the storm.

The bands we bought seem to work because, either we would not get sea sick in any case, or they eliminated the symptoms. However, as both of us woke up in the night a few times, the rolling did not cease. And dawn showed the sea to be relatively calm (no whitecaps) despite the swells.

The boat is rocking in all three dimensions due to our being in the remnants of Hurricane Igor, now near the east coast of the U.S. The Captain announced at his daily loudspeaker report that tomorrow could be rough. I noticed last night that the attendants had placed ample supplies of stomach distress bags in the restrooms adjacent to the restaurants. (Is this a comment about the weather or the food?)

We chose to have a sit-down breakfast in Lumiere's this morning. Better than carrying a buffet tray around deck 9. We met our evening waiters there and they were very entertaining. One of them took a menu and folded it so it looked like a tulip on a stem. There was still a gentle rolling of the ship, both side to side and back to front so the pools were sloshing a lot of water. I took some video of the sight and later swam in the forward pool as its water level rose and dipped about a foot as the ship encountered the larger swells.

Reading out on the top deck in the breezy but warm weather took up our after breakfast time then we went to a culinary demonstration of saffron risotto by the supervising chef of Disney Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Downtown Disney. He made it look easy and the samples distributed were tasty.

Lunch was at Parrot Cay with an oriental buffet and then I tried my luck swimming in the sloshing pools. At about 2:30 PM we went to the art auction but did not bid on anything, nor did we win the drawing like we did in 2007.

Reading and watching TV in the room came next. (Just call us Mr. And Mrs. Excitement!) Donna finished a book and I returned it to the Cove Cafe and got another from the lending library.

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