Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Home Again

This morning Mr.T and I arrived back home after 10 days of cruising to the Eastern Caribbean. We left a week ago Saturday flying from Billy Bishop airport to Newark. From there we caught the train into Penn Station then walked down to Trader Joe's to pick up some of their yummy snacks for the cruise. We then walked up 6th Avenue from 21st street, stopping for a toasted bagel in a local deli before heading on up to 46th street. We then walked west to the terminal and found ourselves earlier than last year and facing a long line to get on board the ship. 

Once on board we had to wait for our room to be prepared and hung out in one of the lounges until the all clear was given and we sailed down the Hudson past the Statue of Liberty and the ship sailed under the Verrazano Narrows bridge. The next three days were spent at sea as we sailed to our first port San Juan, Puerto Rico. While on board we met a really nice couple from Brooklyn, Celeste and Tim while having lunch in the Grand Pacific dining room, who basically adopted us as part of their extended family. They were there with Celeste's sister, Joanna, her partner Susie and Celeste's brother Alfred. For the rest of the cruise we spent time with them enjoying the seating area on the back deck, my favourite spot on the ship. 

The Wednesday after we left we finally arrived in Puerto Rico and Mr.T and I decided to check out the Paseo de la Princesa which wrapped around the base of the old city walls and then along the paseo del Moro which continued around the base of San Felipe del Morro. It was a beautiful walk and for me the real highlight in Puerto Rico. It is a 45 minute walk that leads around to the Atlantic side of the port but then sadly ends. There are plans to extend the walkway to the Castillo de san Cristobal which will make a wonderful walk around the old city. 

After exploring the path we made our way back to the city through the Puerto de San Juan then walked along calle San Francisco to our favourite public beach the playa Escambron on the east end of the Old City peninsula. At the beach we swam for awhile before walking back to the ship. 

The next day the ship docked in St.Thomas, not one of our favourite places so we decided just to head into town to catch a cab to Magens Bay. One of the reasons neither of us really like St.Thomas is that as American Virgin Island the culture is so car focused without any real attention to either pedestrians or public transit. In a way it is a microcosm of American culture with all of its worst elements and none of its best. However the beach is supposed to be one of the best on the island and we found it really peaceful and beautiful. Again we spent a long time swimming in the surf while lots of little fish nibbled at the dead skin on my feet. Mr.T was thrilled that I was receiving a treatment that others pay for through the nose at pricey spas. I have to admit it was a strange feeling and I was afraid of stepping on the poor little fish. After our swim we caught a cab back to the ship for a relaxing afternoon. 

The next day we docked in St.Maarten, our favourite of the Eastern islands. The place is split between a Dutch and French side with the ship docking just outside of the main Dutch town of Philipsburg. Unlike St.Thomas there is more attention to the needs of everyone on the island and lots of mini buses that run continuously ferrying people all over for a few dollars. It really is an example of efficiency without too much greed and shows what can be done, compared to the expensive taxi system that operates on St.Thomas. After walking to the town and walking up and down the streets we caught one of the mini buses to Maho Beach, but the waves were just a little too intense for us so we just explored the area before heading back to the town and then the ship. 

That night the LGBT group the friends of Dorothy changed their venue from one of the bars to a more secluded section in the Bliss Lounge so we decided to check it out. There we met a really nice group of older gay men who all knew each other from previous cruises and invited us to join them for the next couple of days. It was really nice to finally connect with a group of LGBT individuals who were fun to talk with. 

The next day the ship docked in Tortola for a short day before it began the journey back to New York City. Tortola like St.Thomas doesn't really offer a lot except beaches and at that point we really didn't have interest driving again over the mountains to the other side of the island so we went for a walk the opposite way we went last year and discovered a really beautiful park that overlooked the harbour. Sadly, while the rest of the waterfront really isn't that attractive (it would be nice to see the park extend the entire length of the harbour) we sat there for awhile soaking up the sun as it rose over the marina. 

For the next couple of days at sea we spent time with both the men from the LGBT group and Celeste and her family. On Sunday night we had dinner with the LGBT group in the Grand Pacific dining room giving us a chance to get to know everyone. Finally on Tuesday morning the ship arrived back in New York early in the morning and after lining up to get off we found Manhattan drizzly and wet, so we caught a cab down to Penn Station where we caught the train to Newark for Newark airport. Because the weather was so bad we caught an early flight back to TO, completing our ten day trip to the Caribbean. 

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