Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day Five- Antigua

Date line Nevis/St Kitts off Starboard beam Time 0500 NY 0600 Local

Today I woke in my room 10*** about 0500 local, and fussed a bit with the stuff I intend taking ashore at Antigua, which is scheduled within a few hours. My primo tour may be sold out and I am on standby, and would therefore be going 4 x 4ing which I have never done but expect I shall enjoy.

It took a few minutes before I became convinced that I was not going to be able to go back to sleep, so I called room service for coffee and corn flakes and took a barefoot stroll on the deck, with the coffee and binocs and saw Nevis and St Kitts off the right side of the ship falling astern, lights along the shoreline.

In the spirit of my pic of hamburger and Acapulco, I just took a shot of sunrise and cornflakes, ‘life is good volume ten thousand’ or ‘gotta love those upgrades’. The sun is JUST rising above what I presume is Antigua at 0524 eastern standard time. It is 76 degrees with a lovely wind blowing across the balcony. The coffee is excellent, all my parts are working ok, and I am pleased to be here.

Sometimes my kamikaze touring style DOES do me mischief. About an hour before I am to start the tour of Antigua, I look in the descriptive literature and note it is one that I had crossed out. It also includes a swim, so I have put on a bathing suit now and will not know till 8AM whether I get to do this or my first choice which was sitting on a bus all day.(Antigua Highlights) Again, I have nobody but myself to blame for waiting till the last minute to book the tour. I put in for the best of Barbados as well, and have no idea whether it is sold out or not.

Out on deck 7, I saw a young woman washing windows. From St Petersburg and delightful. She is going ashore in Antigua all day and couldn’t be happier. Here aboard for 5 months. Took a photo of Guadeloupe, and realize as I did so that they ALL LOOK ALIKE and nobody much is gonna care, and even I won’t remember if I don’t keep abreast of the labeling…which so far I have done.

In fact I was so busy putting the pix on the hard drive I missed the approach into the harbor, where the Oriana London and Golden Princess (Hamilton) are already docked. Wx superb. Quick trip to the shore excursion desk yielded opposite info from last nite (tickets could be changed etc) but I am now content with the way things are set up, and will enjoying the day on Antigua I am quite sure. Am prepped for rain but not cold, and have info for internet addresses should I come across a place to surf. Also wearing bathing suit, and setting to shut down puter and lock it in big suitcase under bed, and money is locked in room safe, together with flight logbooks etc…passport with me.

Ok – LONG day in Antigua, or so it seems. Time now 1600 and am sitting on my balcony looking at the Golden Princess which is at least 16 decks I think. Popcorn in my teeth, as they began serving same in the sports bar by reception at 1600. Until then I was talking to A*** who was working alone in the lobby at reservations and just utterly exhausted. She has a cold or something and cannot even go out into the lovely tropic sunshine for the vit D.

I hit the pier minutes before my assigned 0845 muster time, and one of the people on my tour was an unattached Swiss woman living in Amsterdam, attractive but quite obviously uninterested in me except as just someone else to talk to. Asked her if she was aware of any other single women on cruise and she was not. We walked out to a land rover with eight seats in the rear, and our driver, Binky, who proved to be nuts, had us all buckle in and we crawled out of the traffic in St Johns and out into the countryside where we saw bananas, mangos, bamboo, papayas, lemon grass and the wildlife was egrets and cows, asses, horses, and lots of goats.

The hook was the off roading, and the land rovers are tough, and we bounced along roads that would have stunned the typical SUV back home, thru streams, huge ruts and up a rather steep hill. All in all I enjoyed it very much, especially as it was number two choice. Binky beeped his horn and demanded that we yell at everybody we saw, made running games with the other of the two land rovers, stopped to talk to women along the route, and in general just carried on. Once he hid and when the second jeep rolled up, he jumped out to scare them, which he did.

My biggest thrill was seeing the volcano on Montserrat, yet another island which I have now seen but not been to…and there are a LOT of them. I was neither sad nor sorry nor happy when the three hours were up. The Swiss lady (Maritina) took a very good pic of me by the Welcome to Antigua sign which is a keeper. We met and had a brief chat with Dr H*** and his wife as we boarded. Came back to the room, dumped my stuff and climbed out of the wet bathing suit (we stopped at a beach at the end of the tour for a swim) and went back into town for postcard and internet, both accomplished.

The cafe charged three us dollars for 15 minutes, which is six times Costa Rica and four times Cozumel. I was on for 45 min and posted on pprune, a quick entry in the blog and returned a PM to D*** (who again made me smile), looked at a few back websites and tried to catch up a little on the trrbpsoit thread. Got a postcard from a sweet white woman who was very chipper, but I knew she had to be exhausted with eight thousand tourists in the place at once.

The C Columbus is to our right and the Golden Princess to our left, and there is one behind her which I don’t remember. Folks come and go in small boats, and zodiacs. They were painting the anchor on the C Columbus and they just went by my balcony with some device which was cleaning the outside of this ship as well.

My overall impression of Antigua is very favorable and I enjoyed it entirely. I am going to be eating supper when we leave the harbor, as A*** has advised me to be there by 1730 and by 1800 it is going to be jammed. She had HUNDREDS of people at once last night, and both C*** and I felt sorry for her, and especially since she is feeling sick.

So I went down to the area near where A**** was going to be the hostess, and listened to some blowhard in a pink flowered shirt complain about his family, and listen to the cocktail pianist (there are a few aboard and they are all good) and I was promptly seated at 1730 at a table by the window, and so I was able to watch Antigua harbor slip away. Funny bit – thousands of flashbulbs were going off on all the decks of both of the huge ships still in the harbor as they took a pic of us doing our pirouette out of the harbor and off to sea, where we passed Guadeloupe (not a second time, the first one was not).. Supper was called hanger steak, but I thought it was more like roast beef. The service was quick and professional and I skipped salad, soup, appetizer and had a bowl of strawberry ice cream for dessert – my second of the day, as I had one up on the 12th deck upon my return from the land rover ride.

Following supper, I went and hung out with C*** at the entrance to her restaurant awhile, eating a piece of candy she gave me. She got called away to a meeting and I wandered up to the lobby where another good pianist was finishing and being replaced by the mariachi type guitar players from the Philippines. A*** was there again, and I spent much of the evening talking to her. It was she who had given me such a warm welcome in the little coffee area as I came ashore earlier, but I had simply not recognized her because she was wearing the waitress outfit that is usually Philippinas. Funny how the mind works. I apologized to her. She has a boyfriend on another boat and the photographer is also kinda proprietary as well. R*** came by and we exchanged our usual pleasantries.

When she had a meeting with a maitre d, I passed by her daytime work station and asked for a cookie. Saved myself a trip to 12th floor as they gave me a tray of six of them with plastic on top. Returned to the room, sorted and corrected some of the pix (what I thought was Guadeloupe was Montserrat etc) and just enjoyed a quiet evening without the theatre or any entertainment other than the tv. Put some of my laundry in to be done.

At 2300 I saw lights from my balcony, and THAT was Guadeloupe. Nearest airport was 18 miles away to the east TFFB, followed by TFFR[38 miles] and TFFM [47 miles]. The cabin has 19television channels. The Ecstasy had 3. And the Dawn has popcorn, and ice ceam if you search it out.

Antigua Countryside


Fijufic said...

Fin - Fantastic. Antigua has never occurred to me in my quest for travel. You are right. many of those countries all look alike if you do not keep them labeled.

I go 4wheelin' relatively often and love every bloody second of it. If you have the wrong truck you are SOL.

Great post my good man. Your ambition to see everything is amazing when you are on these cruises.

I NEVER take the tour, we just come ashore, find a local and have them show us how the natives live...Crazy but you know it yields some interesting finds.


Fin said...

There are good reasons for doing it your way, but when time is of the essence, a guided tour helps assure that you will at least get to see the highlights.

PLUS--if you book a tour through the ship, it will wait for you if you are late getting back. [although it will not prevent the chorus of jeers and catcalls from the folks on their balconies who have been waiting to go].