Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Day Seventy Three: Who turned the thermostat down?

The Mediterranean is cold! We always imagined that it was at the very least warm for most of the year but the bit from Port Said going north west towards Italy has not got much above 55F all day and tomorrow is not expected to be much better. We started the day with Force 9 winds but these have abated to Force 5 and they are pretty much head on and this has made the sea choppy enough for two of our dinner companions and several others that we have seen around the ship to put their SeaBands on. As battle hardened warriors who have experienced all this before Hilary and I are taking it all in our stride so much so that I managed to have 1½ cream cakes this afternoon with my two cups of tea.

The temperature apparently changed half way through the Suez Canal according to the reports that we have heard from passengers who stayed on board and didn’t make the long trek from Suez to Cairo and then onwards to Port Said. They said that in the space of about 15 minutes it went from warm and sunny and great for swimming to cold and windy and time to grab the sweaters and it has remained that way all day today. We did actually sit outside on the starboard deck while we had breakfast even though it was a trifle chilly but I have added a T-Shirt to go under my new hieroglyphed polo shirt with Sam on it and I have changed from shorts to long trousers. The Lido Deck and the Promenade Deck are strangely deserted and you can have your pick of the sun loungers and chairs that stand forlorn and empty around the pool and along the railings; we have seen one or two hardy souls in anoraks, coats or thick sweaters sitting around outside but they are few and far between.

Most of our morning after breakfast - we are both getting a taste for the vegetarian bacon – was spent in the Crows Nest where Hilary typed up the labels for her Sharm el Sheikh and Cairo pictures and where we can connect wirelessly to the printer just next door. I still don’t know if we are paying for these printouts but we have had about a dozen sheets so far. The only snag with using the wireless connection in the Crows Nest itself is that in order to get a good connection you have to sit in the smoking section and after a while the smell gets to you (and into your clothes). At least the strong sea breeze does blow the smell out if you walk on an open deck. We also organised the pictures that Hilary needs printing 3 x 2 inches and put them on our spare SD card. We have a good system that works for us and the way it works is that we download the photos each day from the cameras onto the computer into a new folder named for the place that we have just visited and then Hilary chooses from those the ones that she wants in the scrapbook. We then drag copies of these onto a spare SD Card and take the card to the photographers and say “print that lot” which is much simpler than writing out photo numbers and giving them a list. With the labels and the pictures sorted we then spent the next hour or so talking to Alison and listening to the Oriana choir rehearsing for their next performance and it was half way through this when we realised that we had missed today’s talk by the graphologist/profiler – damn, we must make sure to see her tomorrow.

I struggled with the Sudoku, Hilary struggled with the Crossword and we managed to kill an hour before heading down to the Theatre Royal to see an audience with Captain Chris Wells. He is an amazing man who comes to life when he has a microphone in front of him and he led us through his early life growing up, his career on tankers with Shell, his annual time with the Fleet Auxiliary, his short stint on the Isle of Wight ferry before he finally went into the cruise liner business with Cunard and later changed to P & O. It was a brilliant talk and at the end one of the passengers praised him with a huge response from the audience who then gave him a standing ovation as he left the stage. It was quite a contrast from our previous captain David Pembridge who gave a similar interview but with much less acclaim. For Captain Wells the Theatre Royal was standing room only and at the last minute they decided to video it so that anyone who missed it can watch it on the cabin TV.

So that is it for me, and I will hand you over to Hilary who is trying to sort her hair out for the formal night tonight. We are having our photo taken (again) but at least this time it is Free! Well at least the first 8’’ x 6’’ is as we won it when we pulled out a raffle ticket from a bucket with a number that ended in the figure 2. Believe that and you will believe anything. Here she is…..

Tiz I. The photographer said that we won the free photo opportunity, why should we question that? I have had a day of trying endlessly to make my brain work! I was so tired last night that I could not understand even a one sentence question! It had been the most exciting day – seeing the pyramids and walking around them. We had been well drilled in the technique to avoid the unwanted attention from the hawkers and camel drivers by our guide. She had said that if any of them give us any problems then call on her and she would sort them out – and I believe that she was capable of doing just that. Manal was a remarkable lady with an extensive knowledge of Egypt and its history and quite able to keep a large group of people in the right place at the right time and in ‘order’. She told us so many facts about the pharaohs and ancient Egypt that I had no chance of remembering it all. I should have been taking notes because now I want to recall it all. I believe that she must have a degree or two because she talked about different professors had written books on the subject and who had taught. We had lunch and breakfast in Cairo at a posh hotel where the waiters had a very laid back attitude to life. Three times I was told that my request for a glass of white wine was ‘no problem at all’ and after an hour there it never did arrive at the table! I loved this country and the people and we were all amazed to find that there was a police escort all the way from Cairo to Port Said with all the junctions blocked off so the coach could drive through without stopping or slowing down. We even drove through all the red lights! It was a three hour drive with the police sirens going off all the way! Very exciting. Today I am still recovering from the effects of the tiredness and have just spent most of the day drifting around the ship talking (it seems) to every other passenger answering their questions as to why the ship was held up for 2 hours while waiting for our return from the day trip yesterday. That was probably because we were delayed for about 2 hours getting to the harbour from the ship in the early morning! Now I must go and get ready for the formal dinner and our free photo! Take care, God bless.

The photo is us with our cabin steward Geraldine - we love her!


samw7 said...

Geraldine looks very nice. Sorry to hear about the coolness of the weather but it will prepare you for the trip home. We're having a cooler (mid 70's) day and desperately hoping for some rain as we are in a severe drought. Glad that you both enjoyed Egypt. I guess it is now on to Rome. Not much news here. Tonight is our annual homeowners association meeting and tomorow night is Jeff's softball.
Love to you both, Sam

Marlene and Tara said...

Hiya you two. Wow - you are really never going to forget this experience. It seems amazing that it is already nearly over and I agree with Pat - how are we going to live without the blog? It has been wonderful for all of us to share this journey with you.
I have put a reservation fee on my apartment in Hayle and all is proceeding with a likely moving date of 4th May - you will be home just in time Hilary to help me pack!!
My tenant moves out on 30th April so I will come home to Plympton to sort the house out and then back here to move from here to Hayle. Hey Ho. Its all good fun. I am really pleased with this decision now. I have been so grateful for my time in St Buryan, but Haye will be much nicer for meeting people doing Reiki etc.
Enjoy the rest of your trip. Wrap up warm and don't forget to put teddy's jumper on!