After leaving Aqaba, our ship made its way to the Suez Canal. I have been through here many times but never seen it entering from this direction; this is what it looks like at just after 5am.
It took 12 hours to pass all the way through, we entered the Mediterranean Sea at 5pm, then we turned right and the next morning we were in the port of Ashdod, Israel. Here we went into town, nothing touristy about it. It appears to be a working town and an access port for tours to other places and things that we have done before. We only looked in the shops, got a coffee and supplies and headed back to the ship.
Next our ship called at Malta, a place Florie and I never tire of visiting. It was Sunday and Valletta was crowded to overflowing in the bright morning sun.
There was a parade of the Scouts and Guides. I was a lovely event seeing the pride they all have in the organisation and seeing the young tiny ones walking behind the senior members.
This is the garden at the top of the lift (elevator) from the port to the town.
It was Florie and my wedding anniversary today so we decided to have lunch out, and very nice it was too.
Our next port of call was Gibraltar, ships usually only stop for a few short hours and today was no exception, so we just stretched our legs walking up the main street and back because our ship left port at 1pm.
The Cocktail Party.
As our ship sailed away from Gibraltar into the Atlantic we started to get ready for our final cocktail party of the cruise. Most ships have a ‘Farewell Party’ and ours was at 5pm in the upper deck front lounge, Champagne and Canopies. We collected our drinks on the way in and selected our seats, away from the noisy popular crowds already laughing and joking in groups of 6 or 8 near the door. There’s always one who is the life and soul of the group and expects everyone to laugh at their jokes, just like the Captain will do when he arrive in a while. Florie and I have chosen a seat near the back with a good view of the whole room, and with a clear view of the waiters as they come to refill your glasses.
Regrettably, no matter how much I scowl at people, they still joined us as the place filled up to overflowing; Florie immediately started a jovial conversation, smiling and looking interested. The first to join us were a couple from Kent, a retired couple who did nothing but attend medical services of one kind or another, all the time, that was their retirement!
The other couple were from the Netherlands. She was a good English speaker, who was still fully in love with her husband. He was fighting a deteriorating body, but seemed to be winning for now.
There was another woman who was dressed all in white, an unfortunate colour, given her size. She attached herself to the end of our group unbidden. She was eventually enticed away to another table by a bunch of noisy women of similar build and she settled right in there adding to the amount of noise from that table.
“Good!” I thought as the waiter came round with the fresh canopies and the sweet fizzy clear liquid that loosens tongues. The canopies were warm and tasty and the fizzy was nice and cold, he was a nice waiter filling my glass three times in all. Have you noticed how it goes straight into the blood stream? It was making me loose my scowl, and I started talking. A big mistake! In silence I can give off the air of intelligence, but regrettably, when I speak that illusion fades like smoke in a gale. But tonight at least I didn’t get one of those looks from Florie that indicates that I have said something unforgivable, which speaks volumes for the years of effort she has put into my social education.
There was very little price to pay for our food and drink. The Captain only stood for 60 seconds saying “Thanks for travelling with us and please come back again.” And everybody clapped like mad.
Our group of 6 carried on talking well after most of the people in the room had gone to dinner to stock up on food until the late buffet before bedtime. We stayed and swapped stories of woe and then bragged about our last fantastic trip, until desperate hunger overtook us all and we rushed out heading for our favourite sty.
In our case, it’s the anytime dining experience, where delicious delicacies await our choice. While we chopped through our platefuls of grub. The chap on the next table was regaling his table companions who hadn’t been to the do, with an account of the same cocktail party we had just been to. I was astounded, it didn’t sound like the same do at all! Apparently all the great and the good were there. All the senior officers were there calling him by his first name. We only saw three and apart from the Captain and they were pretty low down in the pecking order. And one of those was a complete plonker, how he got the job I don’t know? Florie and I had to get up and go as the tales from the man were getting ever more fantastic.
In the theatre the show was one of those singers who doubles as cruise director. He has an inflated opinion of his abilities and very little stage presence; he clumps about the stage like a country yokel just off the farm. He was doing Frank Sinatra’s numbers trying to look relaxed. Yeah, like a hare trapped in the headlights!
His girlfriend was doing an excellent job in some numbers, tap dancing.
Anyway folks, that was our evening, me tanked up on free food and drink and Florie trying to add an air of decorum to the events. When we got back to our cabin we had a note to say that the clocks go forward at 2am. Hurrah! That means that I may sleep past 4am with any luck.
Our final port of call was Lisbon, a beautiful city laid out on hills. The main part of the city is served by trams old and new and they have a good train service to nearby towns that are equally picturesque, Florie likes to visit here as she usually buys shoes and handbags. This time it was only shoes; but I weakened and got nice pair dark blue moccasin type shoes that are soooo comfortable.
Then it was up the Channel and back to our home port in the UK.
5.30am location:- Our cabin.
Woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep. There were story lines tumbling about my head, two and three at a time, I’m just glad they weren’t on audio.
The first grey light of dawn was showing, revealing a dark grey cloud against the sky. The ships engines are giving off low rhythmical rumbles, so we can’t be going fast. I can feel this through the bed, I can hear my wife’s quiet breathing, as if in tune with the ship.
More thoughts tumble into my head, ‘no not now! I have no light pen or paper, now go away,’ I thought.
I pull the covers back and do slow isometric exercises silently. My mind moves to the ships hold, ‘did I lock that orange case? Well I can’t do anything about it now.’ I concentrate harder on the exercises, 20 minutes and I’m sweating, I lay still until the ships air conditioning has cooled me down.
4am Florie get up and goes to the bathroom, quietly, like a gazelle running through the undergrowth. She creeps back in bed and is asleep in moments. 4.40am I’m still laying awake I hear, “are you awake?” she whispered next to me.
So here I am, dawn has broken. I have got us both coffees from the anytime bistro on the next floor up. Florie is sat up in bed sipping the coffee and reading a book. I am sat near the window writing to you of the trip we have had as the sun comes up.
The 5th January the trip started, we were excited about leaving the winter weather and brexit behind, it will be all over when we return. We went anticlockwise round the world, you know, across the Atlantic, the Azores, the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, a quick stop in Acapulco then across the Pacific, where all internet stops! Around here it feels like an oven, all the outside decks are covered in near naked people trying to look like they have been working outside for a few months. Their skin shiny with sweat or sun cream; as they lay doing nothing all day in the suns baking heat.
I spend my time writing in the air conditioning. I’m dashing the words down as fast as they tumble into my head, my open writing book looks like and army of spiders have crawled across a tray of black ink then walked drunkenly across my page.
Our ship reaches New Zealand then Australia; here we have to re-schedule our itinerary to avoid a large tropical depression that is covering a major part of the east coast of the continent. We miss most of the storm, but on our second day in Yorkey’s Knob it catches up with us and everyone who goes ashore gets drenched big time.
The ship continue to the Japan’s then across to China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Malaysia, India, Arabia, then through the Suez Canal, across the Mediterranean and up along the Portuguese and Spanish coasts passing France on our right hand side then back to the UK.
We are presently travelling the last 30 miles as I write this and we will soon have to vacate our cabin so they can get the room ready for the next passengers. We will go and wait in our allotted waiting areas until we can get off, but first we are off the get our breakfast upstairs.
I hope you have enjoyed the diaries and I hope you will join me when I post things on future trips. In the mean time I have just finished writing my third novel, so now I must spend many months editing them. If you are curious about the novels I will post details of when they are due to be published and no, they are not about travelling although we all travel this life of ours don’t we.
Keep safe and treasure every moment of your life.