Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jan 13 Grenada Spice Gardens, Westerhall Estates and rum tasting

The “Isle of Spice” Grenada is one of the worlds foremost producers of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. It’s fertile soil is a product of the island’s volcanic origins.

This island makes its presence known before you arrive. The Isle of Spice is a major producer of spices. On warm Caribbean days when the wind is just right you’ll smell nutmeg, cinnamon and all things fragrant that grow in the hills.

We slept in this morning and didn’t have time for breakfast. We were already docked and so we didn’t have to deal with a crowd situation like yesterday. It was a short walk on a shorter pier than yesterday, through the customs building and conveniently sitting right there was our bus! I was so happy to climb aboard out of the stifling heat and into an air conditioned bus.
So off we went through this very busy city that had lots of interesting shops and up into the hills we drove. Some places were extremely steep hills that we traversed up and down and we saw a fruit stand by the side of the road on a level spot and Sabrina asked the bus driver if he could stop so she could buy one and he did. The vendor chopped or peeled it a bit and then made the hole, added a straw and passed it to her and she was thrilled to drink her first ever coconut milk.
Eventually we arrived at a spice shop.
Basically it was a tourist trap with souvenirs but we liked some of them well enough to purchase. I don’t usually buy souvenirs anymore but none of us could resist a necklace that was made of spices. Now, on the ship we’ve learned that there’s a good chance we’ll lose these necklaces because fresh fruit isn’t allowed to be brought in to Canada and probably neither are spices as they’re fresh and the ginger is actually soft. I suppose it's because they could be a breeding ground for fruit flies and i guess a new species isn't desired here. Meanwhile we’ve hung them in our cabin and the delightful fragrance greets us every time we enter. We then boarded the bus again and hit the hills for a lovely scenic tour of maybe half an hour more to the spice garden.
A nice young guide named Lorraine took us for a walk on a nutmeg shell covered pathway and she stopped at a lot of plants and explained what it was and how it could be used. It was very informative and interesting and although she tried to have us stand in the shade while listening to her lots of times there was no shade and so we stood in the sun. I don’t know what the temperature was there but it was HOT. As you know i'm always cold but here i was really too hot, lol! The path was a circular one that ended up back at their gift shop and after everyone was finished buying spices we proceeded back down the hills to the docks. It was a very nice excursion and my daughter and granddaughter continued shopping in the mall that we had to walk through to get back onto the pier while i just kept on going as i was totally beat from the heat and wanted to get back on the ship and have a nap in our cool room. Actually, i  made a small detour when i saw a sign that said Casino in the mall. I opened the door and walked in just to check it out.. It was sort of scary because it was very small and very dark and very crowded with people playing  a handful of slots. Some of the machines were the same ones we have here at home but they weren't anything I wanted to play. 
Later we went for a late lunch and then the girls went one way and i went another. I checked out the few decks that i hadn’t been on as of yet and i found some interesting things to look at including sitting to rest in the piano bar which wasn’t open but the door was unlocked so I went in and was alone in a sort of night club feeling very privileged enjoying the purple ambiance. There were photos of famous musicians on a wall and i took pics of the pics. I walked out onto decks 3 and 4 and walked a bit past the lifeboats and then went in and sat for awhile in the atrium. Few people hang out there totally unlike my last cruise on Princess where the atrium was the main hub and gathering spot being as it's the heart of the ship. I chatted with a couple of ladies there and they were both from Florida although they hadn’t known that about each other.  By the time i departed they had become close friends. I went to the art gallery and seeing nothing artsy going on but there was a cooking demo with the ships head chef and his helpers. I found a seat and watched as they prepared a three course meal and some lucky people were chosen to eat the meal. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones and it was freezing in there so i headed for the casino as the ship had departed and the slots were being powered up. I played my usual with no luck and then wandered around where i found a few different poker machines that looked interesting. They allow you to play up to four hands at once and i’d never seen this before and it turned out to be a lot of fun even though i didn't leave with a profit. It dealt one hand and you saved whatever cards you wanted from it and they showed up in all 4 hands. Then when you push the button different cards were dealt to complete each of the hands. It was pretty cool as sometimes you're dealt a paying hand so you'd save them all and win on all 4 hands.....cha ching! I went to our cabin and the girls returned just moments after me so we got ready and went to dinner. They then went to enjoy the movie on the outdoor screen while I retired to the cabin for the rest of the evening.

                                         The building is the prison. They get the best views

                                                           Sabrina's coconut man

                                   So many spices and fragrant fruits. I forgot what this one was

                                                                         Oh Canada

                                                  The remains of the old rum distillery

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Jan 12 Barbados and Harrisons Caves

Barbados is named after the bearded fig trees found throughout the island. This coral island is known for its white sand beaches and warm people.

We went early to breakfast before the ship docked and then headed down to the 0 deck hoping to be able to beat the crowds. I should have known better, people were Wall to Wall waiting in the hallways and on the staircases, and getting ticked thinking that some of the people were disembarking to visit the port leisurely on their own and the ones with tour excursions tickets in the back of the lineup were going to miss their tour bus. Arguments broke out, shoving became a problem and a couple of ladies almost came to blows. Finally a crew member appeared to try and get the crowd in order. First and foremost the stairwells had to be kept clear in case of emergency and that meant that the people around the elevators had to back up. He shouted several times in an urgent tone “back up, back up!” and we did but there were so many people who refused wanting to hold their spot, it was like kindergarten children or a gong show. Finally he asked for all those with a tour excursion ticket to hold it up which we did along with others while the passengers without a ticket were still standing firm in their quest to debark first. Holy crap, it got ugly. Eventually all the people with tickets who were now an hour or more late for our time slot were guided under a rope and down the stairs because the elevators were jammed and wouldn’t go anymore. We got out of there fairly fast and once off the ship we could see that we had a very long walk ahead of us to get to the terminal and through the large building out the other side where the buses awaited. Luckily a few of our excursion bus’es were parked waiting very close and we climbed on one and sat in the front seat. Carnival cruise lines and probably others are going to have to redesign their plan for debarking passengers and getting them through the port terminals asap. I realize though that it won’t be easy as just about everyone wants to get off the ship at every port of call. The problem must be in their schedules of arranging the time slot for the excursions. We had no choice of a time and simply took whatever time Carnival gave us. Maybe it would be better if people chose their own time slot but then i don’t know if everyone but me is an early bird. The problems that occurred this morning were probably caused by the ships late arrival at this port and nobody knew if the shore excursion bus drivers would understand. They were worried that not everyone would get their tour. Sometimes a little communication would mean a lot but apparently they don’t see any need to explain this to the passengers. Since i’ve been on several cruises i sort of knew this and it’s probably common sense. I think the pre purchased tickets would be accepted all day and the time listed on it isn’t necessarily the time you have to go. Since they take the ticket from you they’d count them and always stick around waiting to collect all that were sold to the cruise line in order to collect their money. Even so i got caught up in the frenzy because everyone was stressed out because of being in a mad crowd situation including us.

Our tour bus departed with us on a full bus. One of the first things the driver  pointed out to us was where Rihanna’s home used to be. In fact they named the avenue nearby her home after her. He also told us that Tiger Woods had married there. Later he showed us a hotel with a penthouse suite that cost $20,000. for one night. As well as others for $2000. per night and some that had very expensive restaurants as well. I love getting celebrity and this sort of info and just wish i could have gotten some photos but most were on the other side of the bus.

It was a beautiful scenic trip he took us on, past sugar cane fields, a goat ranch, chickens, property for sale info, the sugar cane production factory etc. We saw where McD had an outlet that failed and they left there and a thriving KFC took its place. Also passed Ashley furniture and an Esso station where gasoline was $4. per gal. Most people gasped in horror except us who remained silent as ours unfortunately costs more. We saw schools, government buildings, fire halls, and much more.
Barbados is a beautiful island where they drive on the left side of the road. Some of the roads were in bad shape and had lots of sharp blind curves. Those curves really needed to have mirrors installed so drivers could see if anything was coming. So far, they just blast their horns in warning when approaching a dangerous curve. We arrived at our destination which was the famous Harrison’s Caves. We were led into a building and down several stories on an elevator where we got onboard a sort of a train like ride that proceeded into the caves of stalactites and stalagmites. Our guide was a nice young lady who explained how these caves were really very recent in the overall making of the earth as they were formed hundreds of thousands of years ago so just babies and not millions of years ago. The islands were formed by volcanos which built up underwater and then over the centuries they raised up above the water and constantly grew larger and are still growing.

She talked about how men made a pathway through the caves it in total darkness. It must have been very spooky for them as water drips from the stalactites and it must have been very weird to be rained on inside a cave. They are also very hard and sharp but the men crawled in anyway. There were pools of water here and there and some very high ceilings in some places. One area with a very high ceiling was called the Cathedral and people have been married at that spot. We were allowed to step off the train a few times for pic taking opps and rode down a long way and looped around back up to where we had started from, all the while feeling drips of water landing on us which was rumored to be the fountain of youth. I felt a lot of rain falling on me but not sure if i got any younger from the experience. Inside the caves we saw another group making their way through but by foot through the pools, and crawling through small passageways and actually swimming through deep places. They looked tired and muddy but I think it was their best experience ever.

                                             This is the street that Rhianna used to live on

                                                               Bird of Paradise

                                                                    Harrisons Caves

                                                         Stalactites and Stalagmites
The guide said how to remember which is which the one with the c in it is hanging down from the ceiling and the one with the g in it grows up from the ground

                                            You ride through the caves in a sort of train

                              Water was constantly dripping. It was weird like it was raining inside

                                            The elevator that took us down to the entrance

                               Meanwhile back on the ship a little animal with eyes awaited us