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Over the Water and Back Again-Part 9

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip
By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 9-- below (or at the "read more").

May 16 (Friday, Day 20, Southampton, England) –

We ate the Holiday Inn Express continental breakfast which included three kinds of individually wrapped “good” cheese as well as normal American continental breakfast foods.  We arranged for a cab to pick us up at 11:45 AM and we zipped through the Queen Mary 2’s embarkation process and got to our stateroom by 12:20. 

Within 20 minutes of being on the ship, we knew that this cruise was going to be MUCH better than the Royal Caribbean one.  Our 248 square foot stateroom with balcony was quite a bit smaller than the one on our prior cruise but was extremely clean and well designed.  And, a half bottle of chilled sparkling wine was waiting for us along with a plate of canapés.  There was even a pen and free postcards. 

Our QM2 stateroom:

 

Over the Water and Back Again-Part 8

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip
By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 8-- below (or at the "read more").

May 12 (Monday, Day 16, Barcelona, Spain to Stuttgart, Germany) –

We had decided that if it wasn’t raining we would take the public bus to the airport for $6 each rather than a cab for $40.  This meant walking with our three rolling suitcases and one duffel bag four blocks to the bus stop but since there was a McDonald’s between us and the bus, we decided to stop there for breakfast at 8:30 AM.  (Nothing else is open in Barcelona at that time of day so we HAD to go to McDonald’s.)  The breakfast menu consisted of the fruit and yogurt parfait, muffins and coffee along with all of their normal hamburger items.  Filbert ordered a cheeseburger and Snookums had the fruit and yogurt parfait which was ½ the size as the ones that we get in the U.S. and it was twice the cost. 

Over the Alps

Over the Water and Back Again-Part 7

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip
By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 7-- below (or at the "read more").

May 10 (Saturday, Day 14, Barcelona, Spain) –

We went to the restaurant for a leisurely sit-down breakfast but the only thing that looked appealing to Snookums was Raisin Bran.  That kind of summed up our experience on this ship.  The food on Royal Caribbean really was uninspired and by this time, we couldn’t wait to get off the ship.  Disembarkation in Spain, was (surprisingly) easy.  We got our luggage off of an airport-style baggage carousel (very convenient) and got in line for a taxi to our hotel.  It was raining but we were under an awning most of the time so it was okay.  There was NO sign of any Spanish customs or immigration officials anywhere.  In fact, we saw two Royal Caribbean folks and that was it as far as people in any kind of uniform.  There weren’t even any police or security for the 3,000 people getting off the ship!  Getting into Europe is obviously easier than getting into the good ol' U.S.A.  It was the easiest disembarkation we had ever had on any cruise, and by far the best thing that happened to us on this cruise.

We got to our hotel, the Le Méridien Barcelona on La Rambla (THE street in Barcelona) around 9 AM and they had a room ready for us.  We unpacked a little bit for our two-night stay and then decided to head out in the rain and see Barcelona.  We used the good hotel umbrellas.  Except for the Rain in Spain, it wasn’t too bad.  The temperature was probably in the mid-60s F. and we had proper outerwear so we were fine.  We went to one of the open-air food markets and saw the rest of Barcelona buying their food for the week.  There were meat stalls, cheese stalls, produce stalls and lots of fish stalls.  Snookums LOVES food markets.  We also saw one stall that had three chairs at the counter and three guys were sitting there drinking red wine and eating olives at 10 AM.  Ah, Europe.  There were also a couple of restaurant stalls and we saw people eating fried eggs served on sautéed/boiled calamari.  (It was breakfast time after all.) 

Around 12:30 PM we got hungry and decided to find a restaurant.  We found a hole in the wall place a few blocks off the beaten path and we ordered two combination plates.  The special was paella and a ½ liter of sangria but we didn’t order that.  Snookums had stewed chicken, French fries, salad and bottled water and Filbert had fried white fish, fried calamari, French fries and salad and a beer.  We were the only people in the restaurant at the beginning but when we left there were two others there.  We ate earlier than the Spanish siesta time of 2 PM which was why the restaurant was empty.  On our way back to the hotel we got a little lost, but that just meant more wandering so it didn’t really matter. 

While lost we found this market

Over the Water and Back Again-Part 6

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip
By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 6


May 9 (Friday, Day 13, Cartagena, Spain) –

We got off the ship and walked around Cartagena.  It is a nice city, still partially surrounded by its original city wall.  We found an ATM to get our Euros.  Since it was around 9 AM none of the stores were open.   Eventually we found an open grocery store.  We bought two cans of soda and a plain looking sugar topped roll (for Snookums) for 1 euro (about $1.50).  She only ate half of it since it had a bunch of anise in it. By the time we walked back to the ship around noon the stores were open but since we didn’t need clothes or electronics or drugstore items, we didn’t go shopping.

Welcome to Cartagena


Cartagena


Tonight was when the tips were handed out.  We charged our tips to our shipboard account and then Royal Caribbean gave out specifically printed vouchers that the passengers were to give to their various servers.  At dinner Filbert was already saying that he didn’t want to give the tip to the assistant waiter (and Filbert knew we already paid for it)--and that was before the assistant waiter spilled wine on the table—again.  This is the same assistant waiter that had spilled wine every night at least once.  This time, the waiter managed to get wine on Filbert's camera.  Once again, Filbert's normally tolerant amusement of service screwups finally tipped over into the red zone of extreme irritation, and Filbert told the now-quivering guy to find the maitre d’.  Filbert explained the sloppy wine service to the matre d'.  Anyway, the camera wasn’t hurt at all (it’s an underwater camera, after all) and the assistant waiter did in fact get his tip.  However, we never saw the assistant waiter or the waiter at the end of the meal to hand them their tips so the people at the table just left the envelopes on the tables.  Other tables were hugging their waiters but not our table!

The “gala” parade

Over the Water and Back Again-Part 5

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip
By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 5-- below (or at the "read more").

May 8 (Thursday, Day 12, At sea) –


Our phone rang around 10:30 AM and it was the Guest Services Manager just checking on us and making sure we were happy which, for the moment, we were.  We guessed that we will receive a call tomorrow morning from her, too.

Filbert at sea

Over the Water and Back Again-Part 4

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip
By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 4-- below (or at the "read more").


May 6 (Tuesday, Day 10, Azores) –


Off the topic of cruising, Snookums and Filbert received an email from their subdivision’s Board of Directors informing them that the annual garage sale would be delayed one week in order to handle the crowds associated with American Idol.  That’s right folks, there was an American Idol contestant in our subdivision.  David Cook’s mother and stepfather lived in our subdivision and American Idol was going to film David in his surroundings that upcoming weekend.  So, to accommodate the press and hordes of people, the annual garage sale was moved to May 15 – 17.  (By the way, Snookums stopped selling her rebate items at the garage sale two years ago and  instead donates the drug store items to the local battered women’s shelter at a rate of about $8,000/year.)  Now back to cruising…

The Azores

 

Over the Water and Back Again-Part 3

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip

By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 3-- below (or at the "read more").

May 3 (Saturday, Day 7, At sea) –

Snookums read her book today while lounging beside the suite's picture window. Filbert worked out and burned 1067 calories in 55 minutes. While he was there he saw a guy in a “Teahen 24” Kansas City Royals t-shirt. The guy had to be from KC since nobody else (Filbert figured) would be wearing a Royals free giveaway t-shirt on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic. Sure enough, the guy was an entertainer on board and will perform on Monday night. He said that he always references KC in his show, so we decided we would have to go to his performance.

It was formal night so we got all dressed up and went to the concierge lounge for drinks before dinner. We were stopped the other day from taking our drinks out with us so now Filbert brings his insulated coffee mug in with him and when he doesn’t finish his red wine, he pours it in his mug and takes that to dinner. Snookums takes her backpack and puts a few cans of Diet Coke in it each time she goes to the lounge. Sneaky little cusses, aren't we? I suppose the cruise companies will read this online and shut down our little game. Oh, well.

Filbert ordered the prime rib which was very good. For the fourth dinner in a row, Snookums ordered the vegetarian Indian option. Tonight it was chickpea and cauliflower stew. Every night the Indian entrée came with rice, raita and papadams. Each night there had been different types of curry (or biryani) but pretty good.

Prime rib



Over the Water and Back Again-Part 2

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Over The Water And Back Again—A Transatlantic Trip
By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 2-- below (or at the "read more").

April 29 (Tuesday, Day 3, Arriving Miami) –

We woke up and immediately went to work out. We found out that everyone else must like to work out at 10:30 AM, too. But we found spots on the floor and did 30 minutes of core work followed by 30 minutes of cardio work (bike for Filbert and elliptical for Snookums). Our trainer would have been proud of us!

Sailing into Miami (with bonus camera blotch)

Over the Water and Back Again-Part 1

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Over The Water And Back Again--A Transatlantic Trip

By Snookums, edited by Filbert, photos by Filbert

Part 1 -- below (or at the "read more").

April 27 (Sunday, Day 1, Leaving Galveston, TX)

Departure day! The SuperShuttle van to take us to the airport arrived at 5:15 AM for our 5:45 AM departure. He patiently waited outside for us until we were ready, but at least we knew that we would make our flight on time--and we did.

Southwest Airlines departing KCI

NCAA Women's Final Four 2008 (3 of 3)

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Here's some pictures from our annual trip to the NCAA Division I Women's Final Four basketball tournament, this year in Tampa, Florida, in three posts.  Post three is Championship Tuesday: