Carrie's Adventures

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Olden and the Glacier

Get your hiking boots on…‘cause the activity of the day is Glacier hiking. Despite having lived on the Icefields Parkway for a brief period, traveled past the glaciers in New Zealand, I have yet to actually trek on one of them. I got pictures of Liz traipsing over the ice, so I knew I needed to give it a go.

It was actually a very popular event where 95 of the staff (that’s 10% of us) decided this would be a cool activity. First task was to get there. This required a 40 minute bus ride through the narrow roads of Norway ~ holy crap are they tiny. Liz had told me that they were wide enough for only one car and a bit, however you don’t really realize what that means until you are on the road, zipping at 80+kms in bus and see the oncoming car come around the corner. Psycho I tell you… Anyways, I’m getting ahead of myself. The day started with everyone getting off the ship and going to the bus. We selected the closest bus to get the ball rolling. Well the selection became somewhat questionable as the driver started up the bus and billows of exhaust escaped from the bus. This was followed by the checking of the engine, some curse words in Norwegian I’m sure, and the further announcement that we would not be able to take this bus and we would need to wait for another to arrive ~ but that it wouldn’t be long. That worked in my favour as it allowed me time for the daily English Breakfast consumption.

As we hurtled at great speeds towards the Glacier, we headed out of Geiranger. It was when we reached the outer limits of town that someone on the bus piped up and asked if this was the shuttle bus to town, keeping in mind town had less than 1000 people. As the poor crew member started to panic realizing he had to work in 15 minutes, we managed to stop a tour bus heading back to the ship and offload this fellow onto the other bus. It all worked out in the end, but talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Once we got to the Glacier we needed to hike for about 40 minutes up to the base.

Once there, we were greeted with scads of equipment scattered on the ground that we needed to put on. The next funny moment came when Tasos ~ a Greek purser ~ attempted to on the gear. I have never seen anyone so confused nor whine for help like he did.

After getting all geared up, we were attached to the rope, and the metal spiky things were put on our shoes.

The only requirement was that we walk with a full foot, always going in a forward direction and make sure that there was very little slack on the line. Seems simple enough and we were off.

Now this may sound a bit bad, but the ice was rather granular ~ kind of like in March when you walk through the snow banks of the snow which has been plowed like crazy, but aside from that, the view was spectacular.

The blue colour of the glacier was evident when the sun came out in full force.

Mike ~ another Greek purser was hysterical to watch as he obviously had not walked on ice previously and was VERY cautious. He looked like he might be 80 and in need of a cane with the small, very deliberate steps and the way he was clinging to the rope, even though that was a no-no.

Unfortunately our time on the glacier was really short ~ but it is definitely a do again type of experience.

Norway ~ the land of all things expensive

The first of 3 Norwegian ports and everyone who has been on this cruise previously said that we needed to be up early for Sail In ~ to see the fjords and all the beauty. What they didn’t say was that this ‘beauty’ would begin at 4am and last only until 7:15am. What is up with that? Well I must say that I am starting to become more of a morning person ~ I know, say it ain’t so, and I actually managed to get up at 5am with plans to quickly get the audit done and then enjoy the morning. Due to timing issues, I needed to wait until 5:30 to start work, so I headed up at 5am to find the only other sole being Marc from the Guest Internet Café. Being from South Africa, he found the temperatures a bit chilly, however being a good Canadian kid, I bundled up in layers and it wasn’t too bad.

So I took 70 pictures of rocks and waterfalls ~ and while I haven’t gone through them all in great detail, it is just one of those things that the photo doesn’t seem to do it justice. But here is a wee peak just to give you an idea.

We anchored in Geiranger and headed ashore on the tender boats. The town itself is a sleepy hollow that thrives on tourism.

One of Conny’s favourite restaurants is here and we opted to go there for lunch instead of the mess. After listening to the Sinead O’connor CD in its entirety we were beginning to wonder when our food would arrive. It was a bit shocking given the place only had about 12 tables occupied from what we could see. You have to wonder what would happen if they were really busy!!

Norway is the land of trolls ~ and I found myself a cute one. Too bad I wasn’t able to bring him home… :)

Amazed at the number of campgrounds that were around…. I know Liz has already camped Norway, but really, I am thinking she may need to come with me again!

And for those of you who have yet to see a photo of the uniform... Here are the darks! God, who doesn't love a woman in uniform?!? :)

Greenock Scotland ~ the land of the brave?!?

Go figure, the one place I actually bought a shirt, I hated the town. Now I must preface this with the fact that Greenock is the port to Glasgow and is a rather small town. From listening to the locals, it isn’t the type of place that you would want to go out in at night as it is a bit dodgy. So as I wandered through the town, looking for all things Scottish, it seemed to be pretty blue collar. Walking back along the water, I stumbled across a pair of men who were ready to fight and the one guy was so sure that he could take the other, he was willing to bet 2 pounds. The part I couldn’t believe was when the other party raised him to 3 pounds ~ just bizarre.

Again the scenery was beautiful, and the stories I heard from those who had ventured as far as Edinburgh made me wish we had sailed around to the other side, but I can put that on the list of things to return to.


Well I am not quite sure what to make of Belfast. I didn’t get a chance to spend much time there. George wanted to get off the ship and given that the Hike was coming and I had been off the previous two days, you need to concede some things. So I spent a quick 2 hours in town only to discover that there really wasn’t much in town. I was the only person on the double-decker shuttle bus, so I had my own personal tour. The driver was born and raised in Belfast and according to him there is no better place to live. The city has changed significantly over the years, but unfortunately those that fled during the unrest with the IRA have not returned. I did manage to see the courthouse which is where a lot of the protests took place. It is difficult to imagine how scary it would have been to live in the city where your safety is compromised.

Aside from my wee tour, I managed to see City Hall. Surrounded by green space that everyone uses as a park, there are also memorials there. The one that caught my eye was the one for those who perished in the Titanic disaster.

I was unaware that the ship had been built in the shipyards in Belfast ~ but it is true.

The countryside looked beautiful. Rolling hills, rocks ~ lots of sheep… and I suspect that I would have enjoyed just getting in the car and driving around more than seeing the sites of the city. But hey, I guess that is what this is for, to figure out what you like and where you would go back to….

Ireland is definitely on the ‘return’ list. Liz ~ are you up for a road trip?!? I’m sure the Avocado would make it!

Monday, July 25, 2005


In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty…

What an amazing city! We had to take the shuttle, which was about 20 minutes into town and it gave us a picture of what Dublin could be like in rush hour. I’m still thinking it is far better there than Toronto or Vancouver!

So once again, I wandered into town without much direction or thoughts on what I wanted to see. First rule of thumb is to get off the shuttle and head in the direction of the masses. With this done, I stumbled across Grafton Street.

Recalling all of my Irish Maeve Binchy novels, I realized that this is one of the more major streets in Dublin. Closed off as a pedestrian mall, I strolled to the end of the street and stumbled upon St. Stephen’s park. Similar to what Stanley Park would be to Vancouver, especially in terms of location and use, the park was filled with people hanging out enjoying the scenery.

After leaving the park, I ran into a crew member who had hiked the distance to the Guinness brewery. Now there was a location I should have made it to. Unfortunately the walk was about 30 minutes to get there and time was not going to permit me to visit ~ but I did make it down to the Temple bar

where there are numerous pubs, cobblestone streets and all things that seem to represent Europe, and past a statue of Molly Malone. The cool part from my perspective was the guy playing the drum. It reminded me of Gerry O’Kane and the days of sharing pints at the Wellington!

My one cultural stop ~ if you can call it that ~ was to the Church. Not quite sure what is so spectacular about it, other than that is is quite a nice looking building. Pam was not able to get out early due to lost luggage but had really wanted to see the church. So I hoofed it the extra 5 minutes for her to get a photo ~ I really should ask what the scoop is with it...

Made it back to the ship, in time, but realized that this is definitely a city that one could have a lot of fun in and I will need to come back! Here's hoping Pam decides that when she moves to Europe it will be to Dublin.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

And then there were the Irish...

We reached the shores of Ireland and to be honest I hadn’t really done much in terms of research on what one could do in Cork or even what was in Cobh ~ pronounced ‘cove’. What I did discover after speaking with our knowledgeable Concierge was that Cobh was the final port where the Titanic embarked passengers prior to the crossing. What I have also learned is that low and behold, this will be the final port for the Constellation prior to it’s crossing back to North America in September. Now if I were overly superstitious, I would be very grateful that I am signing off before the crossing… As it is, I think I will just be glad to be going home for a rest.

The town is really quite small. Like Southampton, only smaller and without the stop light. I know, you don’t think it really gets much smaller than that, but it can. The buildings however were in the bright colours that I love and the folks in town seemed to be very personable, except when we asked the waitress if she would be able to help some of our friends who were waiting at a table outside.

Photos to come later ~ the satellite really sucks right now...

Pam and stopped for lunch at one of the local pubs ~ The Trade Winds ~ where we sampled a pint and partook in the fish and chips. And for those of you who have dined with me, I am still on my ‘things that don’t swim’ diet, when you cover it with enough tartar sauce it becomes yummy. What amazed me was that there were more pubs than you could count on two hands for this wee hamlet. What is up with that? Good lord, maybe these folks drink more than my friends and I do…

Unfortunately time did not permit me to head into Cork as it was about a half hour away. But I realize that the scenery is incredibly beautiful and with the ratio of 20:1, sheep to humans, it may be similar to the drive through New Zealand. (Sorry Liz, didn’t check out the price of lamb for you…)

Monday, July 18, 2005

First there was Angry Bocce…

Then came the Speedo Bocce.

Now some of you may know the story of 4 boys who decided that they would get into a van in Vancouver, see the sights of the prairies with the final destination of Winnipeg. This 3 day marathon drive resulted in a significant number of kilometers being put on the van, very little sleep and the introduction of Angry Bocce to each province between British Columbia and Manitoba.

Well as Pam and I strolled the boardwalk in Le Havre, we noticed this large open space and wondered what on earth they would use this for. My first thought was Beach Volleyball, until Pam mentioned that diving into that hard packed sand may actually hurt ~ she is always good for pointing out stuff like that. We wandered a bit further down the path and discovered that these pads were in fact Bocce courts. What I wasn’t expecting was the number of male participants and their attire ~ nothing but a Speedo. Not sure who invented the Speedo, but I am thinking they were not expecting older, over weight men to be parading around in public in them… Or maybe they were. Anyways, the one that cracks me up is the guy with the tape measure ~ you know when that bad boy comes out they are meaning business.

It’s a new cruise ~ and it starts with the French!

Quite literally! The itinerary has changed for this one cruise and will see us passing through Ireland, Scotland and the Norwegian Fjords. With only doing this cruise once, I will be making an effort to get out as much as possible ~ however with George back at the helm, it will be more difficult for me to get out. They are offering a Glacial Hike and I desperately want to go ~ how cool will that be?!?

Our first port was Le Havre in France. I have been here before and was not thrilled with the city, so much so that I wasn’t going to go out. However a friend had asked that I go and take some photos of sailboats, so I mustered the energy to get out. This time instead of taking us downtown, the shuttle (and the taxi we took, cause we were tired of waiting for the shuttle) took us to the beach. Well, I will eat my words (and they can be French if you like) as I loved the beach. Pam and I wandered down to the waterside where there were a number of cafes and beach huts.

The food was fantastic and very affordable ~ the dining experience included Moules and Frites (mussels and fries), Ham and Mushroom crepe, 1 L of wine (can’t forget that) and a caramel/banana crepe for desert. We watched as folks strolled along the boardwalk and then took a wee tour to observe the bocce phenomenon.

I am very excited about the rest of the cruise ~ the ports in Ireland include Cork, Dublin and Belfast and then over to Greenock in Scotland. We then have 4 ports in Norway and back down to Copenhagen for an overnight. The camera will be going full bore this cruise.
I also hope to catch up on many things that I have let slide ~ like the communication with the outside world. I have been living pretty much in a cocoon for the past while and am looking forward to connecting with folks again.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Good bye Akis ~ we're sad to see you go...

Well the 2 months has come and gone, and I tell you it has gone fast. George will be signing on sometime today and tomorrow will see Akis leave the ship ~ his destination is as of yet still unknown. The company wants him to go to another ship (the Mercury and do the Alaskan run) to replace a DSM on vacation but he has his sights set on going back to Greece to enjoy the sun, sand, coffee and the view of the ladies at the beach.

In honour of his leaving, or perhaps it was just because he has a better cabin, there was a wee party this week to celebrate good friends and good times. After cleaning the cabin and rearranging the furniture, it was set for entertainment. With a ‘no alcohol’ policy in effect for the cabins, there was some crafty maneuvering to get the required party essentials into the room, but it all came together nicely. About half the room was Greek, leaving us Anglo folks to watch in wonder as they discussed football (soccer) and their affections for their teams.

The Host:

The Cabin:

The Crowd:

Carrie & Akis after a few drinks:

The room started to thin around 3am which I would have thought would signal it was time for bed. What I have discovered is that for the Greeks, this is just a signal that the music selection should be changed to some hearty Greek music. Yes, this did lead to the Greek serenade. Do they appear to you to be singing to the moon?!? All in all, too much fun.