The Ocean Route

By: Kelly

So Sorry for all of the delays. I realize we are not setting a wonderful pace for these blog entries but we have been so busy.

So, on May 4th, we left our Miami hotel room, said good-bye to all of our family members aside from my (Kelly’s) mom who would be traveling across the Atlantic with us.

Zitsman Family Portrait outside the hotel

Zitsman Family Portrait outside the hotel

Good-Bye Miami

Good-Bye Miami

Kelly with TeaEllie with cocktail

We boarded the gorgeous Royal Caribbean boat, explored our tiny cabin and the rest of the ship, completed a muster drill and went to our first dinner.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

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The boat, itself, was beautiful. It has a water slide and mini golf and pool tables that moved according to how the boat rocked so that way the balls never rolled out of place. The crew were so friendly and kind even though they work ridiculous 12 hour days, catering to obnoxious old people.  I have never seen a more over-worked bunch of people and I couldn’t believe how well they coped with it, considering that after a 7 hour day of waiting tables, I went into either A) a drunken stupor, B) dead asleep or C) ragingly angry at tourists.

"The Centrum"

"The Centrum"

DSC_0436where much of the Ballroom style dancing occurred.

Also, there were A LOT of old people. Not old like middle-aged, but old like senior citizens with hearing aids, dentures, canes and hip replacements. There were 20 people under the age of 30 and by the end of the 13 days, we knew ALL of them by basically sitting at thDSC_0458e only club that stays open past midnight. Needless to say, there was lots of ballroom dancing, ABBA nights and bingo. But it wasn’t so bad. We danced every night until 4 in the morning to bad pop songs and made a really wonderful friend in a Portland girl named Ana who was taking the OZbus from London all the way to Australia overland.

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The food on the boat was hit or miss, but the food in specialty dining rooms, that you paid a fee to eat at, were phenomenal. Probably the best food and service I have ever had, even better than at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant.The food in the regular dining room seemed to be on hiatus due to the fact that the head chef was away on holiday. Every night on cruises, you eat with the same people (strangers). Our table was all women and consisted of the three of us, and a mother/daughter combo from Quebec and two sisters from central Florida.

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Tides: the formal Dining Room
First Day off the Boat: Bermuda

First Day off the Boat: Bermuda

DSC_0139Our first stop on the boat was Bermuda which was incredible. The people of Bermuda were so friendly. They all seemed to know each other even though the island was much larger than Key West. We took a local ferry from our very badly positioned port to Hamilton which is one of two main towns on Bermuda.DSC_0144

DSC_0147DSC_0156It was a beautiful balmy night and we were lucky because there was a traditional Bermudan festival going on with food, crafts and dance. Hamilton is incredibly, as is Bermuda on a whole.Lots of wealth and rich people buying up big oceanfront property. The people of Bermuda are gorgeous. Beautiful skin and big smiles. The second day we were in Bermuda, we went to Horseshoe Bay which is a pretty well touristed swimming beach. We took a local bus that was worth the 4 dollars each way just for the ride alone. The locals in Bermuda look out for each other so well and  were so friendly even to us, often asking us if we enjoyed Bermuda and upon hearing our enthusiastic response about how beautiful it was, they encouraged us to come back.

Horseshoe Bay was so beautiful that the only way I can describe it’s coves, clear-blue water and pink sand is through pictures, so here are a few:

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We sat there drinking beer from a little stand, soaking up the sun. It was probably my favorite port that we visited.

After Bermuda, we spent 5 days crossing the Atlantic, during which we had 5 time changes, laid by the pool watching as the weather grew uglier as we approached Europe, and went dancing. Being in the Atlantic for five days with no land around is a really unique feeling. It’s a little bit like being isolated and maybe even a little lonely, but a really good lesson in the correlation with time and distance.

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Once we arrived in Europe, we had a port a day in which we stopped in Portugal, Spain and France before disembarking in England.

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Port #2: Lisbon, Portugal

In Lisbon, we were mildly overzealous and were basically the first people off the boat at 6:30am, only to be greeted with a very sleepy city that hadn’t woken up yet. Most of the shops don’t open until 10 and there wasn’t much to do so we had a pastry at an outdoor cafe and watched the city come to life.DSC_0323 We explored the completely empty hungover Barrio Alto which had closed only hours beforehand. Then we walked across the city to the more touristy Alfama, looking at tacky souvenirs and walking up to the unimpressive castle grounds. We found a few very worthwhile souvenir shops that had handcrafted goods and gorgeous artwork done by local artists.

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On our walk back to the boat shuttle, we stopped and ordered a pizza and drank a couple Sagras before catching the bus. Since we had already been to Lisbon, we had a really excellent picture of the alternative night-life with hipster bars and cute haircuts galore, but there wasn’t much of that this time due to the awkward hours of the cruise ship.

Port # 3: Vigo, Spain

Port # 3: Vigo, Spain

DSC_0388DSC_0389Our second port was Vigo, Spain where we got off the boat at much more leisurely pace and walked as far away from the tourist area as we could conceivably get in this port city. When doing research about Vigo, we came up completely empty-handed. Guidebooks didn’t even have an entry for this mid-sized city. It completely surprised us though. It was really livable and didn’t cater solely to tourists like most ports. You could see that people lived there and worked there. A lot of the city was under construction but you could seem the charm it will possess once the renovations are complete. We wasted no time before we revisited some of our favorite culinary delights. We stopped in a restaurant and ordered Patatas bravas, bocadillo de espanol and a 3 glasses of sangria. The sangria was light and refreshing. Afterwards, we walked down a seaside street and got pulled into a very manly style bar because of the owners smug look that his sangria was the best. Well, it was alcoholic at least. It contained an entire bottle of brandy and tasted a little like prunes but we ordered a hunk of Manchego cheese and some of our beloved Padron peppers to aid in the brandy overload. That is where the trouble started. Normally, Padron peppers have no spicy quality to them. We ate about 37 of them before Ellie bit into one and almost died. The heat was overpowering, she was swallowing the brandy in big gulps, crying and swearing. Ellie is someone who eats VERY spicy food. We think a pepper of a different sort ended up in the Padron pepper bushel. Once, Ellie became better we headed towards the boat, full of Sangria and a healthy fear of Padron peppers.

We passed up this gem

We passed up this gem

DSC_0469Our last port of call was Cherbourg, France. Ana asked to tag along with us this time so the four of us head out and stumbled right on to a weekend market. Nobody does weekend markets as lovely as France. Fresh cheese, fruit, baked goods, yum. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have a picnic and take it easy so the market was very helpful. We got some Camembert cheese, some goat cheese, some apples, a baguette and some pain au chocolat. Of course, we got a nice bottle of red wine and a wine opener.

DSC_0480We then walked through the winding little lanes on a 20 minute walk to the public garden across the town. The public garden was really pretty and we sat in a gazebo, eating our delights when someone noticed something. THERE WAS A SEA LION BEHIND US! In the middle of this French public park, there was a gigantic pool with a gigantic sea lion. CSC_0517DSC_0489Then we walked around and realized that there were also weird birds and rabbits, both of which are not that unusual but a SEA LION! That is a very strange addition to a park in France. Cherbourg was another place that got no recommendations in guidebooks but I found it quaint and cute and some place one could settle for a month or so to fulfill some sort of French fantasy.

The next morning, we woke up super early since we elected to take our own luggage off the boat, much to the shock and horror of other more posh guests. Needless to say, we were one of the first people on the train to London and when we arrived in London, there was one of our greatest friends, Merlin there to pick us up. We had a pub roast and did some exploring of the Camden market and stayed in a private room youth hostel with Mom which had a school group of 47 French children around the age of 11, screaming shrill French obscenities as they played Ding Dong Ditch. We flew to Amsterdam after less than 48 hours in London town with Mom, thus completing our Trans-Atlanticism.

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4 Responses to “The Ocean Route”


  1. 1 Eleonore May 31, 2009 at 9:33 am

    great post !

  2. 2 Rachel May 31, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Everything sounds and looks so wonderful. I feel so refreshed after reading (you know how obsessed I am)!

    Miss you and love you lots!

  3. 3 Mum Z May 31, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    ‘Ello! I really enjoyed you first blog of the trip. I sure got a feel of the places you went. Beautiful!! So far, I have enjoyed the ride! Luv mum z

  4. 4 kharen June 25, 2010 at 8:33 am

    i like you trip…
    i hope, me too can experience it…
    Wheeew!!!


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