Posted by: glenswatman | November 3, 2011

20111021-31 Spain Madeira Canary Islands Morocco

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FRIDAY 21 OCTOBER – I join Angeles for a walk to the centre of town; it’s about the size of Market Drayton or Newport so easy to get around.  She visits the Friday market to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat.  I notice that all the women, young and old, are hauling shopping trolleys, Angeles has a bright pink trendy one.  Produce is almost all cheaper than France and the cheeses are tastier.  For tasty tasty cheese you ask for dry cheese and the dryer it is the more bite it has.  On return Angeles gives me a haircut and does such a subtle job trimming the dead ends that Steve doesn’t even realise it has been done.  For dinner she cooks us a typical Catalan meal.  We start with crusty bread onto which you put oil and then squeeze a half tomato then top off with a slice of cheese and another of ham.  Smearing the tomato on bread is such a typical thing in this area that the people in the rest of Spain call them the “pan y tomat “bread and tomato”.   The main course is a delicious pan of thin slices of beef slow cooked with potatoes in thick gravy.  I help them with some web sites for motorhome exchanges and they give us information on good parking places down the coast then we sit out drinking coffee.  Here they prefer the coffee as short, strong and black but accommodate us with hot milk to add.  Early evening they both go out for their exercise fix.

CUBELLES 2

SATURDAY 22 OCTOBER – Angeles and Juan are out all day at a family gathering just north of Barcelona.  I spend the morning ironing and packing. As usual we are just travelling with 2 small carry on size bags and the laptop bag.  Steve is please when I manage to get live football from England and he can watch the Wolves match.  After this we take a stroll down to the beach.  It’s a bit windy so not many people about but a nice walk along the promenade.   Notice lots of restaurants offering 3 course meal plus bread and wine for Euro 10 (£9) so I can see that after we have lost our cruise weight we will be doing a bit of eating out.  Steve is somewhat less happy when the Liverpool match is on the laptop as the result is not in their favour.  When they return we chat more and exchange a lot of information, there is so much to learn about Spain and for them about Couchsurfing and motorhome travel in different countries.  We are going to have to figure out how to meet up again.

CUBELLES 3

SUNDAY 23 OCTOBER – Juan & Angeles walk us up to the station.  One way to Barcelona Euro3.85 (£3.40).  Sitting on the platform we notice a man on the next seat reading a motorhome magazine and the page he is on features our Rimor van.  I speak to him and although he doesn’t have a motorhome himself he is interested in them.  The train takes just an hour into the city and it should be about a 20 minute walk to the port.  It takes us 25 minutes but we then find that today the HAL ship is going from a different port.  We continue walking and it takes a total of 55 minutes to reach the terminal.  Our Ryndam looks tiny behind the 6000 passenger NCL and Celebrity ships.  It’s about 12.30pm once we board and we can go straight to our cabin to drop our bags before taking a buffet lunch at the Lido.  Due to increased incidences of GI (gastro intestinal) bugs on ships they now have a policy of no self service for the first 48-hours.  The theory is that anyone coming on board with infection will know within 48-hours and it can then be contained.  The afternoon culinary arts class is interesting, making prawn brochette which the chef makes and then gives us to taste.  At the spa raffle Steve wins a body assessment, not the best price but better than nothing of course.  I enjoy the Digital workshop where today’s class is all about Windows 7.  We are down for anytime dining and have a table for 6 booked at 8pm.  Our companions are a couple from Washington DC and another couple from Holland.  All interesting people, the Dutch lady used to work for HAL 40 years ago and the American man as a veterinary pathologist.  It takes 2-hours to get through the meal so we miss the show and just head to the cabin.  It takes ages to get to sleep as we keep hearing intermittent noises above.

HAL RYNDAM 1(HAL 11 NIGHT CRUISE TO MADEIRA, CANARY ISLANDS AND MOROCCO on the Ryndam.  Booked with Go Cruise, outside HH category restricted view cabin at £558.10 pp. By taking the guaranteed cabin option we have been upgraded to a category C cabin 384 which as advertised at £1040.77 at the time of booking.)

MONDAY 24 OCTOBER – 1,30am we are fed up with being woken so reception send someone who investigates and says it is the dishwashers in the galley above and they will try to stop them.  Don’t know whether they do or not but at 5am we are both woken again.  The machines make a big noise when they start to fill with water and another noise when they stop filling 2 or 5 minutes later.  At 8am we speak to the hotel manager but there are no vacant cabins to change to.  We are offered ear plugs and credit on another cruise but this isn’t really any help.  They will ask the kitchens not to run the dishwashers or push around noisy trolleys through the night.  She admits that HAL should be noting that the cabins in our area are prone to noise in the same way they advertise others as restricted view.  After breakfast I head off to another computer class.  After breakfast I join another computer class then meet Steve for the Cruise Critic gathering. Members have the opportunity of sharing experiences and getting together to do excursions and we meet more interesting people.  Our team “just for fun” win the pub trivia quiz the prize being a round of drinks, considerably more use to us than that HAL pins that others have won.  At the cinema they are showing “The Kings Speech” so that rounds off our day.

HAL 2, AT SEA

TUESDAY 25 OCTOBER – Docked in Malaga it is quite a walk to the old centre.  The cathedral is interesting as it was built over 3 centuries and incorporates many different designs.    Other than that it is just another nice town.  We’re back late morning and hang out by the pool as it is very hot.  Steve collects his “fitness test” prize and it comes as no surprise that he is well within limits for fat, weight etc.  In spite of all this the guy still tries to get him to spend $300 on some natural health tablets.  There is an Italian restaurant on board so today we dine at the Canaletto and enjoy a very nice meal, it is a small dining area and feels more like you are going out to a restaurant.  The WI bowling is a good laugh but the younger kids put us all to shame.  The evening show is a strange type of magician.  He’s Italian and almost Tommy Cooper style messes us his simple tricks but through comedy keeps it entertaining until he does it right.

HAL 3, MALAGA

WEDNESDAY 26 OCTOBER – As past passengers we are invited to the Captains brunch with free wine.  Again we are seated at a table with different people and enjoy our chats.  We’ve heard that  someone was ill and left the ship yesterday and we are to be moved to their cabin as we have had noise for the last 3 nights.  As luck would have it the couple have vacated a veranda cabin on deck 9 (BB category) so it is quite an upgrade, having said that we would have taken any cabin that was not noisy.   As usual we find little spare time in between doing quizzes, computer classes, eating etc.  The evening movie “Opa” is a poor story line but set on a Greek island it reminds us it is time we went back there again.

HAL 4, AT SEA

THURSDAY 27 OCTOBER – Wake up in MADEIRA Funchal port after a lovely night’s sleep.  From our balcony we can see the twinkling lights of the houses up the hill side.  We’ve put our clocks back 1-hour and it is not really light until after 8am.  By 8.30am we are off the ship and walking to the centre.  There’s a yellow top open bus tour for Euro12 (£10.50) and we hop on that to first do the yellow circuit.  This takes about 1-hour and complete with headphone commentary gives us a good over view.  There are some lovely buildings, lots of nice sculptures and loads of gardens.  Back at the start we hop off and walk through the old town then catch a local bus up the mountain, Euro 1.85 (£1.50).  The views during the climb are stunning and we are amazed just how high up we go.  You can do the same trip by cable car (Euro15 return) but we think this is more fun.  The main thing to do in Funchal is a sled ride.  You are seated in a sort of wooden cart with runners as opposed to wheels then 2 men guide this down the steep winding streets.  There’s a massive queue, almost 2-hours wait so we head to the front just to take photos.  As I step back from the road a guy asks me for Euro30 (£27).  I realise he thinks I am from the front of the queue so make a quick decision and 2 minutes later we are in a sled heading down hill.  Having gone in a toboggan down a mountain this is not as thrilling as we expect and the ride is over very quickly, not even 10 minutes.  Now we realise we should have walked around the gardens and checked out the other mountain sights as it is a long way back up.  No matter we will just walk downhill to the town.  There’s a really nice area with restaurants near the cable car terminal and most of the houses in the narrow street have their doors painted.  Sometimes scenes whilst others have characters or messages incorporated.  After a brief beer stop we connect with the blue bus tour, 1 ½ hours long as it goes out along the coast to a really attractive small village where Winston Churchill used to stay and paint.  Arrive back on board just in time for afternoon tea with scones etc.

HAL 5 MADEIRA, FUNCHAL

FRIDAY 28 OCTOBER – Today we are in TENERIFE at Santa Cruz.  Having spent a month on the island in our motorhome in 2004 we feel we did all that sights that interested us so opt for a day on board.  No one else shows up for the morning computer class so I am able to have 1 to 1 coaching and ask all the things I need to know about my own computer.  We’ve got the sun on our balcony so make the most of this to sit out sunbathing and also use room service for a lunch delivery.  We also get a special delivery to our room of chocolate coated strawberries and champagne, courtesy of HAL for us having had a noisy cabin.  In the evening Steve wins a price in the casino raffle, a free day pass for 2 people to the Hydropool and Thermal Suite.

HAL 6, TENERIFE

SATURDAY 29 OCTOBER – Another day, another island, today LANZAROTE where we dock at Arrecife.  There’s a free shuttle bus to the town and there we enjoy a walk along the waterfront with castle, drawbridge and nice gardens.  The cathedral is unusual with lots of chandeliers inside.  It’s still tempting to get back to our balcony to make the most of the hot sun.

HAL 7, LANZAROTE

SUNDAY 30 OCTOBER – We are now in AFRICA docked near Agadir Morocco.  In 2001 we spent 2 months in the country touring in our motorhome so once again opt to stay on board and enjoy our stateroom facilities.  Our cabin is on the starboard side and by sheer luck we always seem to have the sun for the best part of the day.  When we came on board I opted to ignore my acid reflux problem, go back on full medication and get stuck into the food.  The upshot of this is that my belly is now huge and my clothes are getting tight but reckon I will just about make it until Thursday without popping any buttons.  In the afternoon I go to a class to learn the Michael Jackson dance that goes with Thriller.  It is very difficult as no moves are repeated and it doesn’t flow like a normal dance.  After 1 ½ hours the class has dwindled to about half but most of us have the basics.  We manage to make the early show which is half with the Italian magician coupled with the English comedian.  There’s a final thriller rehearsal in the evening after which we go to the cinema to watch the 10pm showing of Italian Job and just about manage to stay awake.

HAL 8 MOROCCO, AGADIR

MONDAY 31 OCTOBER – The port of Casablanca is one of the reasons we picked this cruise.  When we toured Morocco before we were warned not to venture near the city in our own vehicle.  It now has 8 million people so things have not improved.  Along with a Manchester couple Tony and Deborah we negotiate with a taxi driver to give us a highlights tour.  They ask for $160 but we barter down to $80 for the 4 of us for 2-hours.  Ricks Bar from the movie Casablanca doesn’t exist as such but due to demand an American has opened a replica but it is closed when we drive past.  Hassan 2 Grand mosque is one of the largest in the world with a stunning cliff top location.  It’s a very impressive building from the outside with nice decoration.  Our driver insists on showing us the coach and seems very proud of the area where concessions have taken over the beach, much the same as in Italy but obviously a new thing here.  He also shows us the area where the rich people live but you can see little of the houses.  On the highlights list are Sacre Coeur cathedral, Place Mohammed V with some nice buildings and the old medina area.  For us the best thing was the mosque so we are not that disappointed to find our tour gets us back after 1 ½ hours.  Again we have a sun facing balcony so retire to the room for the rest of the day.  It’s Halloween and the ships are holding a special party and suggesting fancy dress.  We improvise with me wearing my black plastic rain poncho over a long black skirt then making my face white with black eye sockets and some black teeth whilst Steve wears his suit, shirt and tie backwards.  The thriller dance is a bit of a mess up but better second time around.  When it is time for the fancy dress competition we opt not to go on stage to compete with some amazing, mainly shop bought, outfits but get dragged up.  Unbelievably we both end up in the last 4 and receive a bottle of champagne.  They come round asking where we are from and about our outfits.  I say I think I look “dead ghoul”, thought about being from Gravesend but think it would have gone over everyone’s head.  Steve says he doesn’t know whether he is coming or going when introduced as backwards man.  Voted by the audience applause Steve wins and the prices is a meal for two at the Pinnacle grill worth $50.  What a laugh.

HAL 9, CASABLANCA 

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