8th March Salvador Bahia

We woke to the sight of the Brazilian coast again. We went for breakfast ready for the day ahead. I have now discovered Fruits of the forest Yogurt. A couple of pastries and coffees and I was good to go.

We could see into the town from the top deck, so we decided to just go for it. There is a shuttle bus to the terminus so we took the bus and walked through the terminus. Inside there were a few shops, In one of them they were selling Havianas (flip flops) and they had some on sale half price. The pattern is out of date apparently, but as Viv says it only wears off and you cannot see it when you are wearing them.

We walked towards the town, but there was no way through. There is a lift you must take and a huge queue. We were left with little choice in the end. Turns out that there were two queues, one for people who had money and one for those without. We now had some change so took the queue to the turnstile. This turned out to be a mistake, the people not paying got through a lot faster.  The cost was minimal about 3p I think but had I known I would have joined the stupid foreigner queue and not the even more stupid those who can pay queue.

At the top there were some spectacular views and we could see the ship from a view point. Into the town we finally found a cafe with internet, Even though the WiFi connection was good there was no internet. I managed a couple of whatsapp messages but nothing else. While there drinking coffee we saw Dave (from our table) standing outside a shop, with that lost look that men have when they are out shopping with their wives. He never saw us though.

It was all very pretty, but poor. They had drafted in hundreds of local police to protect the cruisers, but it all looked quite tranquil to me. In the end there was nothing to spend our money on, so we left for the boat.

It was then back to getting ready for the evening ahead. More dancing in Rhapsody bar and Round the Clock. As we go from one to the other every time the group changes, we have to pass through the casino and Amarillo. Always there in Amarillo is Rs always cheerful and smiling. So we finish our evening with him and a hot chocolate.

A reminder that this is all written after the event. We are home now, so do not be surprised if you see us.

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7th March Another day at sea

We are already getting into a shipboard routine. Viv is up early to do her stretch class and we meet in buffet for breakfast.

We explored the ship and came back onto deck 9.  They serve a lunch of sorts on the open area, you can still use the buffet, but this is just fast food. So I had a bag of chips and a hot dog and we sat in the sun reading.

After our afternoon dance class we went for a sleep, all this enjoying ourselves is hard work. Then it is showers and down to deck 4 for our evening meal. We are joined tonight by Dave and Julia from Cardiff, looks like they have put the Welsh table here. There is another Welsh couple on board but maybe they do not have the Brindiamo Package. The Brindiamo package means we get Wine at our meal so they can just leave bottles on our table. If there was someone without, then obviously they can not join a table with free wine.

More dancing in Rhapsody tonight, and we can also practice a bit of Bachata and Cha Cha we have learned in the day.

A reminder that this is all written after the event. We are home now, so do not be surprised if you see us.

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6th March Rio

We woke to views of the Brazilian coast. There was a lot of camera clicking but first it was breakfast time. A couple of eggs then some lovely fruits of the forest yogurt, and finally some pastries. That should see m right for the day.

Getting off the boat is a bit of a problem, as you would expect. When we finally get downstairs, we are ushered onto a bus and taken to the terminus. We are completely lost, never having done this before. We are supposed to meet Rafael and Hilma but do not know where to go. I send Hilma an SMS it appears she had sent me a Whatsapp message but I have no internet connection. She is waiting for us outside, so we make our way to the exit. On the way we stop off to draw some Brazilian Real out of the ATM.

True to their word they are waiting for us just clear of the security. They walk us around to a car park compound where Rafael has a huge car. This is not the most practical thing here and he drops us off in the centre to park the car. We then pick up a tourist bus that takes us to the base of Corcovado, where for some unknown reason we are moved onto another bus.and taken to the base of the Statue of Christ The Redeemer. From here there is a lift then more stairs. If it looks high on any photos you have seen, there is a reason.

At the top there are huge crowds all wanting their photos taken under the statue. It turns out that Rafael is an official guide and got us to all the best stops. So we spent about half an hour up there and then took the lift down again. At the bottom we had to take a different bus back to Rafael’s car we had to wait in a large waiting room. We had an Ice and some water, but were not allowed to pay. I had been worried as I had no Real but managed to get some at the ATM. Still Rafael was not letting me pay.

From here they took us through the town again and past Copacabana and Ipanema and around the lake. Viv was getting agitated because they were taking us to lunch and it was taking too long. She worried that we would miss the boat. Remember we have never done this before, so we did not know what to expect. Anyway they took us to the Navy Club. If you have a vision of your local Navy club forget it, try crossing Hart to Hart with NCIS and you might get close. We had to pass through a turnstile to get in and inside was a different world. Six tennis courts, an olympic sized swimming pool and a restaurant to die for. They fed us royally and gave us drinks ( remember they are not letting us pay). We had two steak medallions on a bed of rice.

Viv was still panicking but we were back with an hour to spare. We were stuffed though and in no mood for a six course evening meal, so we went to the buffet later.

Again we danced the night away and then we discovered the hot chocolate. Between the Rhapsody and the casino is the Amarillo ice cream bar. Now the ice cream is not in our package but some drinks here are and the chocolate was one. We got talking to the waiter who was from Bali. I asked his name and he said no one can pronounce it. He said the nearest anyone got was Arse Nigger. Well I fell about, anyone who can laugh at himself this much is a friend for life. Viv has said I must call him Rs.

And yes I know I missed a day. Although it is very enjoyable, one day is just like another when you are sailing, So I had fun, but did not want to bore you.

 

A reminder that this is all written after the event. We are home now, so do not be surprised if you see us.

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4th March, Sailing the blue Yonder

So this is our first full day on Board. We start off at deck 9 with breakfast. The Italians really have no idea how to cook bacon and their sausages are just weird, still I have a hearty fill and after three coffees and a glass of orange I am alert enough to face the day.

Viv has been going through the daily diary and I am not allowed a rest. We have ballroom dancing in the Rhapsody on deck 5 and latin back on deck 9. If I get no other exercise the stairs will keep me fit.

Well the ballroom was basic Cha cha. It is all good practice, but some of the other punters wonder how we pick it up so quickly. Then we stop for drinks and go off exploring.

We investigate the Gym. Our tour of the gym turns out to be a sales pitch, for spar treatments and special access areas. Not ones to be put under pressure we escape to try just the gym (which is free)  some time later. As we escape we are collared again by another sales pitch,  “Perfect Feet” or some such nonsense. We do a foot trace and discover that I am heavy on mu right heel. No shit Sherlock, you only have to look at the soles of my shoes. Turns out Viv is far from perfect too. Then he does some pressing down trick where you fall forward. He puts this insole in and does it again. Low and behold we stand up straight. We could have these miracle insole for 149 euros and because we are a couple Viv could have a 10% discount. He did his sales pitch well, but looked crestfallen when we did not buy. When we were out of sight I showed Viv the pushing down trick. It is a bit obvious to a tango dancer.

In the afternoon we were back to deck 9 and the latin. This was a bit of Bachata. Not done this for many a year and it was nice to get back into it. Nothing complex just basic moves, but again we had people wondering how we picked it up so easily.

In the evening we went to the “My Way” on deck 4 as that is where we are supposed to dine. We had a six seater table all to ourselves and the argentine malbec was running free. Six courses, but I cannot remember what they all were. I just know I enjoyed it.

We went up to deck 5 then and as we were at the back of the ship we saw different bars. There is the Round the Clock, where the decoration looks like internal clock workings. The Bar itself is circular and in the centre and a dance floor and stage at the aft end.

Then there is Ricks Piano bar. There is a small floor and a grand piano with some fancy electronic accompaniment.  The player was good, but no room to dance here.

Opposite on the port side (not that I could work this out at this point, it would take several days to work out port and starboard for and aft) is the Wien Wien Bar. No I have no idea, somebody said it was Vienna. There were Cellos and violins all around the walls a grand piano and another small dance floor. Two men were playing guitars not dance music so we sat and listened. Now the fame of my new shoes has reached this place on the high seas. We were approached by Jaqueline and Pablo, who had friends who tango with us. It seems she recognized my shoes. Jaqueline is tall blond and elegant and Dutch. Pablo is typically Spanish he looks like he should be a matador, very upright and handsome. We did not spend long with them as they are on the second dinner sitting.

We finished the evening in The Rhapsody again. Not all the music was dancable but there was a big floor here and we could get a seat right on the edge.  They did play some tango, but it was a bit English to say the least. Still we danced it and had another good night.

A reminder that this is all written after the event. We are home now, so do not be surprised if you see us.

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There’s a boat out there somewhere 3rd March

Having no access to my computor and no internet, I have been unable to post for a while, but I will try to redress this by posting as if it were happening now. There may be some inaccuracies but I hope you will forgive them in my efforts to remember.

We were just about packed when Walter arrived. “You are early” I said. “You told me to come for coffee”. Well we had a lot of time and when his friend called, Walter went to pick him up first.

We left in plenty of time, but driving to the Cruise Terminal was awful. The way through was not easy and the traffic was dense. It did not help we had to go around twice, through all the same traffic.

When we finally got there and said our “goodbyes” we were faced with a huge queue. It stretched right around the building. We got to the end of this queue and dropped off our luggage only to be faced with another queue.

This went on for hours, before they put us on a bus to the boat. When we got off we joined what must have been our fifth queue. We thought that they were testing for Corona, but no, they were taking souvenir photos.  We declined but were not allowed passed until the ones in front had their picture taken.

Only then did someone check our temperatures and offer us hand sanitizer. We are now on the boat, but all is not over yet. We have to hand over our passports and fill in yet more forms.

It is with blessed relief we reach our cabin. We arrived four hours early and the engines are throbbing into life by the time we are in. Time to explore the place.

Each accommodation deck has two corridors, one port and one starboard. Unfortunately no one had the nouse to colour them differently. There is no indication of forward or aft and because you cannot see out it will take me another three days to work out where I am on board.

Any customer services are on deck three, but it is full of dead ends. To get to the customer service desk you must go down the most forward of the three stairs. On any plans they are coloured red, but again on the stairs there is no indication which one you are on.

Now deck five is where it all happens. There are a number of bars ( I will acquaint you with them as the trip goes on) and shops. It seems you can buy top end jewelry but not any toiletries, unless you want Coco Channel.

Deck nine is where the buffet is, and this is where we are off tonight. Quite a range of food here and we stuff ourselves as we have not eaten since first thing.

I browse the bar menue and it seems we can have anything with a blue dot. There are some surprises here. What we can get on our package and what we can’t just seems random.

The beer is rubbish Heineken, but I can have Gin and Tonic. Looks like I will be drinking a lot of Gin this trip.

There is live music in The Rhapsody bar on deck 5. So we finish the day off  with dancing and Gin.

A reminder that this is all written after the event. We are home now, so do not be surprised if you see us.

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Last Tango

So we start our last full day here. Packing, cleaning, just getting ready, but nothing stops the tango. I spend the morning folding shirts, it’s nice that I can take my time. Leaning over the bed gives me backache so I can do a few and rest.

Supplies are running low, we have no prunes left, but we do have a bag of fruit and nuts. Another job for me, sort out the fruit for the porridge. I have already said my goodbyes in the Chino, but I am afraid I will have to return as we are short of milk.

El Beso was as manic as ever. It is not as if it was that crowded, but the tourists were here and their guide was encouraging them onto the dance floor. I am all for encouraging new dancers, but these would never be and had not had a lesson in their lives. The floor at Beso is difficult because of its shape, the situation is only made worse by people blundering around the floor.

It was also difficult to cabeceo with people wandering around. There were at least three ladies who I usually dance with who I could not reach. Viv was also having a difficult time. Still we stayed until the sorteo and Paris Anna won a free entrada with my ticket. It would,of course be no use to me. On that note Julia Doynel announced the Channel 4 would be filming a documentary here on Saturday.  Somehow we manage to miss everything.

We retired to The Coffee Store hoping to contact our daughter on Whatsapp and get some food. Well our daughter never answered and we had all sorts of trouble with the food. Everything we asked for was off, salads, pasta, you name it. In the end we settled for a toasty for me and a wrap for Viv. It took so long to come, when the waiter asked if we wanted a drink we said no. I was thirsty but we had a smuggled bottle of water. Viv said “why did you not order a drink” I said “We have a boat to catch tomorrow”

We had to buy some milk on the way home, I knew there was a reason not to give all the change as a tip. We are getting seriously short now, but with Viv stressing over the packing, we do have enough for beer. So to HB we go for a final quilmes stout.

On a final note; do not expect a blog tomorrow, I was too late and they will not now let me have internet on the boat.

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Meet up at Sullivan’s

Saturday night is Los Consegrados. Funny how as we near the end and we start to care less, everything suddenly gets better. We danced on and on, staying later than ever. My problem was trying to get a dance with all the ladies who were expecting me. Then there were all the Brazilians and of course those who had promised to meet me in Rio. They were essential dances.

It was well past eight when we left and headed off to Alcala for our Bife de Chorizo, We managed to get through two litres of beer and stayed on for the act. Viv was not best pleased when the act came on and they left the football on the TV.  When I saw her march over to the bar, I knew she was on a mission. No resisting the Welsh witch the TV was soon turned off.

We left after dancing a meringue on a very crowded floor. We ran up quite a bill tonight it was £15, at this rate, if we stayed much longer, it could get expensive.

In the morning we went to Sullivan’s for bacon and egg. We had met the waiter from here in a drunken state earlier in the week. We promised to come and say goodbye. I guess in his drunken state he had forgotten it was his birthday and he had the day off. We were going to meet Perry as well, but he was unwell. Still we did meet up with Les and Ann, and also Lucy and her husband Tony. We only intended a short hello, but actually stayed three hours.

On our way back I was stopped again by Charlie The Cat asking for directions (if you are too young to remember look it up on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVOMK6YD6fw). “Perdon” I said, she gave me one of those, Oh it’s a stupid foreigner looks, and went off in a huff. Not many locals know these streets as well a me, it was her loss.

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Local Knowledge

I have one small job today, to take Les’s sube card. Normally I would walk, but after last nights excesses I am too tired. I already have 5,000 steps in for the day before I get up. Outside of our building there is a 151, it has passed the stop but is stopped at the lights. I raise my hand, more in hope than expectation, but he opens the door for me anyway. I have pre explored this area, but I still get it wrong and have to backtrack twice until I find the hotel.  The girl was very helpful ( she never replied in English, although I suspect she could) even gave me a note to leave.

Mission accomplished it was time to return. I had not checked the colectivos, getting a bit over confident here. I knew that they ran back along Colonel Niceto Vega so I crossed the road looking for a stop. Passed the railway and there was a 168 coming. There was a lady at the stop so no panic. I jumped on and said “a Medrano”. Now the driver said nothing just charged me $20. I realized my mistake when the bus turned up Pringles. I had quite forgotten that there are two 168. They may look the same but follow different routes. Years ago I had caught the wrong one and ended up at the depot. At least I knew where I was here. I pressed the buzzer as we left Rocomorra. It was not too bad in the end, I got off at Pringles y Guardia Vieja which was five blocks away instead of two. Then I remembered Viv had asked me to get something to eat, so I diverted another two blocks to Augustus for some Medialunas.

Friday is El Beso again. Same old with the seats, but at least with Zoraida here she found a decent seat for Viv. I have my usual seat under the mirror, but even here, two tables are reserved and I am not exactly where I like to be. I was, of course off like a shot once I had my shoes on. Although I am tired after yesterday, and missing any tanda I did not like the sound of. At least for a while, then a couple of  missed cabeceo meant I would promise the next dance to someone, and I even danced Pugliese.

It was hard dancing, too many on the floor and no floor craft, so I was soon tired. Then Viv was getting bored, so it was time to leave. We had our usual promo at The Coffee Store, and soon we saw everyone was leaving. I wonder sometimes if we should stay, maybe the dancing gets better later.

We had a list of things to buy for the trip home so we stopped at Farmacity. Got most of what we wanted except for soap dishes. Well we stopped at Petish and got just the thing, then La Riena for some scones and we were still in time for El Bosque. With good local knowledge now we get things done quickly, but Viv was in a hurry. She rushed out and I never got a chance to say goodbye to our shoe man

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Otra noche Viruta

Not a lot to do this morning just a bit of shopping. I do have to plan carefully though, you can’t take a bag full of stuff into the supermarket. Then I do not want a load of heavy veg to carry up and down. So I went to the dietetica then back to the confiteria and finally back to the verduria. Job done and I managed to get rid of all he change as well.

Nuevo Chique was busy for a Thursday, this was not good for Viv. She started well but by seven she was struggling. I, on the other hand, was struggling for a different reason. I wanted to dance with all those ladies that I would not see again, but there were just too many of them. When I had one refusal because the lady does not valz, I never got back to her, she now probably believes I was annoyed. There is nothing I can do, I am only one man.

We intended to go home for food, but time was getting short. We would still have to go home but we stopped off at Congreso Plaza for a promotion; ham and cheese toasty and coffee. At $180 it fills the gap and does not tell on the wallet.

After another coffee we head out to La Viruta. Miguel DeGenova is on tonight with Carlos Lididinsky. Not the full otras Aires but we expcted some of the old favourites. We were not disappointed with the music, the numbers though were badly down. This did mean when we wanted to dance we were not trying to avoid flying heals all the time and we had space to move. Later a French lady arrived who I have danced with in Canning and Nuevo Chique. I had a dance with her, but her partner seemed disinclined to dance. I could see her watching us dance and I think she was surprised as here I could let fly. She did not stay long. She had missed the show anyway.

Miguel remembered us again and we took another selfie with him. I know I do this every year, but how many international artists would remember one of their fans by name? Sorry for interrupting your Pizza Miguel.

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Too many goodbyes.

You gotta love this place. We went to Comme Il Faut this morning, but I gave strict instructions to Viv not to let me forget my trousers. The trip was successful, Viv even managed a sale pair.

We headed back all the time I was making sure I remembered my trousers. We arrived there just after one, the guy has a lunch “hour” 12:30 until 3:00.  I thought I would check El Bosque to see if it was open, it too has a long lunch time. Makes you wonder how anyone does business here.

I managed to get out again before we left for the milonga. El bosque was open and he could get the shoes done this week. He did a really good repair on the other strap, you can hardly tell it was broken. Now he will do this one as well, and he will do it by Friday so we will have the shoes ready for next time we are here. All for 0nly$150. I picked up my trousers as well, and he threw in a hanger. One pair repaired and one pair shortened $300. That is a good deal of repairs for less than a fiver.

It’s Wednesday so it is Salon Canning. This will be our last visit this trip so I make a resolution to dance with at least one of the women that have avoided me. Well I failed with one, she left before I could get to her. Thee second I was failing every time I tried to cabeceo, then as the evening wore on she was left sitting. She was still not looking my way, but faint heart never won fair lady I walked over and said ” I know it is breaking all the rules, but will you dance with me?” Well it worked and she seemed quite pleased. I think that I now have another lady to dance with.

On those lines, there was another lady who, it seems, has been trying to get a dance with me. Numbers being so low, she was the only woman left. I know that sounds bad, but sometimes that is what it takes. Viv has been in the same situation. Anyway, this lady also comes to Chique, so I may see her again Thursday.

We said goodbye to Erwin, and thanked him for the music, we will not see him again before we go. Then we said goodbye to Montenegro, our waitress here.

We had our regular trip to The Taco Box again. We don’t even get the menu any more, we just ask for the usual, that includes the beer. Our waitress was showing another the ropes and teaching her the English words for things. When we left we said Goodbye to her as well, Everyone seems surprised when we say we are going home, we seem to have been here forever. That, I suppose, is the advantage of  becoming regulars.

Afterwards we walked back along Gascon and crossing the road at Honduras was the guy from Sullivan’s bar. He was really pleased to see us, but gutted that we are going home. He told us that he lives near to us, but he was having trouble because he was the worse for drink. We had to promise him we would come and see him Sunday. My appointments diary is getting very full. I love the fact that we meet people as we walk around here, and everyone is so glad to see us.

We stopped at Chioco to find out what time it closed. We intended to have an ice cream there tomorrow. But, what the hell, you only live once, so we stopped for one now. It was a nice end to the night.

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