Day one: A long and uneventful drive from Birmingham to Juno Beach FL. We did have a delightful lunch in Macon GA , at The Margarita Grill off of Presidential Blvd. We highly recommend it if your passing through Macon . We arrived in Juno Beach about 10:30 EST and found a Hampton Inn had rooms, had failed to find rooms in two other cities via cell phone calls on the highway, but Ron came through. Six hours sleep and back on the road. Good night….
Day two: An hour drive into Miami to drop off the car and shuttle to the ship, Voyager of the Sea. This is a fantastic ship, I’ve never been on a ship this grand and well appointed. We met a waiter, Jin, from China and shared our memories of our month in China last year. We left Miami and sailed into the Atlantic for a 10 day voyage to Spain . Our table mates are two couple traveling together from southern Mississippi , transplanted form Louisiana so Ron has plenty to talk about and they are full of stories. Tonight’s entertainment was three Argentina Gauchos who presented their native dance and music, a very energetic performance that was totally entertaining.
Day three: We have started what looks like will be our daily routine. The morning is exercise. Up at 6:45 and in the Windjammer Grill for coffee then off to the gym or deck track for a 2 to three mile run ( Kerry 2, Ron 2, Avie 3 mile walk, Nita 2 mile walk), back to the Windjammer Grill for breakfast then back to the gym for weight lifting of a full assortment of machines. At 10:15 Kerry, Nita, and Avie are in an hour seminar on living healthy; Ron says he knows all this; I’m not sure where he goes. At 11:15 I go to a drawing class and the others go in their own directions then we meet at 12:30 for lunch; really it’s 1:30 because each day we move our clocks ahead an hour at noon . Dinner is at 6:00 and we’re off to a show; tonight it was an Australian version of Billy Joel, he was quite good.
Day four: Same routine, this moving the clock ahead one hour each day means we’re getting up one hour earlier relative to Birmingham time. Avie is sleeping later and Ron is making me look bad, he gets coffee and a muffin and takes it back to the room for Avie; what a guy! There was no floor show tonight so we sat in a lounge and made friends with a Texas English Lit professor who was traveling with a California English professor that he had met several years earlier before his wife died, (it’s a long story, and one of many that we have heard.
Day five: Our Healthy living instructor tells us that we should be eating 5 to 6 times per day and should always eat before we exercise, that if we want to loose weight we need to be lifting weights and the running and walking is a waste of time if our heart rate is not 70% to 80% of our maximum heart rate. (220 – Age X 80%). This afternoon we went to an Ice Show, that’s right they have an ice rink on this ship. The show was full of lifts, double and triple saulcows and even a back flip on ice. The performers were from Russia, Poland, Minnesota, all over the world, the arena sat about 600 so their will be more performances and we all agreed that we wanted to get tickets for another performance, the tickets are free. What a vacation! Our head waiter informed us that we needed to be on the lookout for “The Dinning room Gigolo.” This guy approaches your table if you have an empty seat and a bottle of wine and asks if he can join you for dinner. By the end of the meal he has drank most of your wine and moved on to his next victim. “You’ll recognize him; he’s a big guy with a handle bar mustache. Don’t let him sit with you”. After dinner we went to see LaRaf, an illusionist that left the audience asking, “How did they do that?” The show was followed by a 70’s Street Party on the Promenade Deck, and a Chocolate Buffet. Being committed Healthy Living disciples we looked, took pictures and went to bed.
Day six: We’re now on a 5 to 6 feedings per day schedule. Small snack before gym workout, then breakfast, then cardio workout, lunch, small afternoon snack (fruit), dinner, and a before bed snack (preferably red wine and cheese). This keeps the body furnace burning fat, turning it into muscle prompted my the heavy exercise schedule. We’re now 5 hours ahead of home, (we’re up at 7:00 am , it’s 2:00 am at home) naps are becoming a part of our day. Tonight’s entertainment was J.C. Fisher of Kansas City , a tenor who when the act need help called upon the soprano from Birmingham , Avie Cohen.
Day seven: Today’s a great day; I was able to send the Travel Journal and the Web Album this morning… mission accomplished. We are off to Porta Delgada, we can see it off the bow. We’re scheduled to arrive at 12:00 noon . One of the waiters said, “its good body electricity to walk on land.” OK….? We took an excursion onto Porta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Portugal. The islands main industry is dairy, there are 142,309 people on the island and there are 142,309 cows. They don’t have barns; because the weather is constant between 46 to 72 they are able to milk the cows twice a day in the filed. Their second industry is pineapples followed by tourism. The island is mountainous, green and very clean. The people are friendly and welcoming, it is a quite island that you could escape into and raise cows if you don’t mind going into the pastures twice a day to milk. Maybe not…… Our entertainment tonight was Pete Matthews, comedy juggler. I almost didn’t go, “how entertaining could a comedy juggler be?” It’s been a long time since I have laughed that hard, he is a high energy, talented, funny man.
Day eight: Avie and I, Nita, went to a private consultation on Detoxing of the body. The staff here preaches that weight control is achieved 15% through exercise, 35% nutrition, and 50% through detoxing. We were each given an EKG type test to determine the body fat, lean weight, basal metabolic rate, good vs bad water and hydration. My results indicated that I needed to loose some body fat weight and put on some lean weight. With this information I was told that it would take three months of supplements to detox my body so that my exercise and nutrition programs could work at maximum efficiency, and guess what… they had just the pill that I would need, green algae, to put me on the right track and it would cost me only $308.00. They also suggested that I go upstairs to the Spa for a red algae body enhancement treatment for $150 which would also involve a follow-up program to which I could subscribe. Good news, I declined all their offers, best news my current weight is right on target… I can eat all I want on this cruise and just keep walking and pumping a little iron.
After Nita had her body composition analysis, I (Avie) had one and was told that my body had 13 poinds of hidden fat and 6 pounds of toxic water! But, I only needed to loose 6 pounds to reach my target weight. I could accomplish this by a SIX month detox program consisting of several different daily capsules of blue-green algae, along with a daily body scrub. Or I could do an algae soak twice a week along with the algae capsules. I did give this plan due consideration (I sure don’t want that hidden fat and toxic water!!), but had to decline the purchase, since I don’t have room in my suitcase to carry the products all over Spain for the next few weeks. However, I, unlike Nita, couldn’t resist the Ionithermie Algae Cellulite Treatment. I got it for a “reduced” price one day and let them slather me with some greenish-black stuff and apply some kind of energy thru electrodes. This was guaranteed to remove 1-8 inches of cellulite and/or belly fat. After the procedure, which was kind of tickly and not uncomfortable, the technician proudly stated that I had “lost” 3 inches from three separate measurements across my belly. I couldn’t tell any difference either visibly or when I tried to button my jeans later. I kind of felt like I was taken, but really do believe the concept of how the process works has some validity. The stuff applied to the body is red algaie, and they recommend continuing at home with daily treatments for only $400 for about three months!! I didn’t sign up for the follow-up! So, the bottom line is that I am leaving the cruise with my same cellulite and belly fat that I embarked with.
Words from Ron: My weight is holding! No midnight buffets, but I am doubling up on desserts at dinner. I’M RUNNING each morning and after my cereal and lox, bagel, cr.cheese, onion sandwich, I’M off to the gym for some body weights. I say keep me on this ship!
Day nine: Our table mates have turned out to be a lot of fun. Jack and Jerry are spitting images of Ralph Cramdon and Ed Norton of the TV “Honeymooners”. They are a perfect match: Jack is loud and of strong opinion while Jerry is reserved and accommodating. They and their wives have shared their family stories and life experiences each evening over dinner. We will hold fond memories of the gasoline blender, the coffee maker, the ex-nun, and the fisher lady.
For the first four nights of the cruise the “seat squatters” would arrive early to the theater, place a squatter on each end of a row of seats and reject all comers with the announcement; “These seats are saved.” Their companions would then arrive three minutes before the curtain went up and consume the entire row. This was repeatedly done for four night even though there is a clearly stated policy that there was no “saving of seats in the theater”. On the fifth night the “squatters” were once again in place when Joan stepped forward. Joan is a single Jewish lady from Philadelphia traveling alone but sharing a cabin with another woman that she met over the Internet solely for the purpose of sharing a cabin on this cruise. (The match is not working out, but that’s another story.) Joan confronts Squatter #1 and informs him that “saving seats is not allowed” to which he replies “These seats are saved!” With every ounce of defiance Joan can muster she replies “Bull Shit,” loud enough for the first ten rows, who are all watching the encounter with delight having been put off by the squatters themselves. Another “Bull Shit” from Joan and her supporters start to chant “No Saving Seats… Bull Shit.” The squatters got their way that evening but we haven’t seen them since, and each night someone saves Joan a seat. I had the pleasure of her company Wednesday night.
George is a retired professor of Elizabethan Literature, at a small Texas University . He and Ann were an item twenty years ago. They were something of a scandal at this small Texas University . They find themselves widow and widower now. George, still living in Taxes, is a professional bridge player and Ann still teaches in California . They have recently rekindled the relationship and totally enjoy each others company now. “You don’t always get what you want, but if you give it time you will find you get what you need.”
Day ten: Today we were up early and arrived in Cartagena , Spain at 8:00am . We took a tour to Santuario de la Fuensanta, a monetary outside of the city of Murcia . The chapel was small and beautiful, it reminded us all of Sister Angelica’s church in Haleyville , AL . Then we took the bus into Murcia and visited the Cathedral de Murcia. This was the first time I have seen a Catholic church which was divided into 10 to 12 smaller chapels each with iron bars across the front. Our guide told us that each of these chapels are owned by separate wealthy families and corporations for their personal use. It seems that the church is divided and for the use of the wealthy. I don’t know how the balance of the Catholic community fits into the use of this Cathedral. Back on the ship we said good-by to all our new friends, readied ourselves for the next leg of the Great Spain Adventure.
Day eleven: We disembarked at 7:45 am in Barcelona and took a taxi to our B&B on the harbor. The B&B is five rooms in an apartment building run by Jose, a gracious host who works hard to make us happy. The rooms are spacious (remember I just got off a ship), well appointed and clean. We ventured out into Barcelona down the Ramblas on a cold rainy morning; we made our way into the Market which was a visual delight, with so many fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, and people. Being Saturday morning it was shoulder to shoulder with shoppers filling their hand carts with their weekend needs. As we moved down the isles the smells and chatter in Spanish filled our senses. We will make this a morning stop while in Barcelona for fruit and juice; it will be a destination of our morning exercise routine. We then found our way, in the rain, to the Catedral de Barcelona, again we found numerous alters behind bars. The outside of the church appeared to be elaborate and very Gothic but it was wrapped due to restoration that started in the first century and continues today. We then struck out to find the Picasso Museum only to find a line a quarter mile long, in the rain, for tickets; we decided to try later in the week. It was off to another church Santa Maria Del Mar, just in time for the wedding. Wishing the bride and groom the best we found a nice tapas bar for lunch, (10 tapas for 16 Euro). Met a nice couple and daughter, hear at the B&B, on their way to Prague for an older daughters wedding. The ten tapas were enough went out for Gelato this evening.