Landfall: Sunrise in the Azores

image2-17Have come up to the Crow’s Nest to watch the dawn break as we approach the Azores. We dock on the first one at 9 or so. It’s still dark now, and I just went on line for a few minutes and found this (email from home).

There she is. Long rain storm before sunrise, but now brilliant. The “shield” silhouette like Kilauea.

LATER – We’ve had a lovely day, renting a car here in Horta, on the island of Faial, and driving way up into the hills. Very reasonable. Good roads. Had lunch at a local coffee shop.  “Obrigada,”  is what I say. For Tom, “obrigado.” The vegetation up in the hills is very like the Coromandel peninsula in NZ..  tree ferns, lots of mosses and ferns, some huge trees. And everywhere you look, another big or small caldera. This whole complex of islands is part of Portugal – geologically all volcanic, over millions of years.

Happened to be sitting next to a couple at the last lecture who prove to be kindred spirits, probably in their 70s. She, Carly, got her graduate degree in Folklore at UCLA, sings! and I did remember to bring two copies of “Saving Songs.” Look forward to that. We exchanged cabin #’s. He, Dean, looks like St. Nicholas, long white beard, and is a computer person. He’s worked with people like the paleontologist and the plate tectonics guy who are our speakers, Charles Sronka and Stuart Sutherland.

THURSDAY – The captain said in his noon report that indeed the storm and resulting swell WERE stronger than predicted….steady 50 k winds and gusts to 60… But it has lessened now and they’ve reduced speed to make the going more comfortable; we can make it up tomorrow coming in to Horta in the Azores. There is something about feeling a great ship being strong and at the same time flexible, working all her joints and holding it all together.

This nice assistant Maitre D’ stopped so we could take pictures at lunch.

Have just finished rereading A Man Called Ove, and am starting on another re-read: the one Anderson Cooper wrote with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, during the year before she died.  There’s a Swinburne verse at the beginning that I am memorizing, which starts:

From too much love of living
From hope and fear set free
We thank in brief thanksgiving,
Whatever gods may be,
That no life lives forever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Haven’t quite got it yet, but almost.

image1-47WEDNESDAY – They had these paper napkins out at lunch on Halloween, and I covered my journal with one of them. They just fit when you unfolded one, with enough left to fold over the edges.

TUESDAY – I’m awake, but it’s still early, 4:30, and I can hear a big storm outside and feel even this great ship being moved around, tossed up and then settling with almost a thump in the trough of a wave. It’s a good time to stay in bed and not try to walk around.

fullsizerender-9We came back to our cabin and found this little elephant waiting for us on the end of our bed the other night . I thought of our great-grandson, Noah, because it’s almost his birthday and I know he is fond of elephants.

These two huge seals are up by the swimming pool right where the big Mother Bear and her cub were on the last ship. I’m going to draw these seals if I can ever find the good pencils I bought specially for this trip. I can’t find them anywhere! Maybe they got left at home.img_0055

We are probably out of the shelter of the Bahamas now. I’m in bed and can feel the ship begin to pitch and roll a little more than it has been. 5:41 AM. We had dinner at a table with six other people, one Dutch couple, two men from California, a couple from western New York state.  The ship started in Boston, and the line at Open Seating early-sitting held several people who were quite indignant at being made to stand in line. Actually they were mostly indignant at where the crew had placed the sign explaining what was happening, explaining that they couldn’t have the tables they’d had last night. We left before dessert and went up and along to where there used to be music on Amsterdam, and sure enough, there was: pianist, violin, two young women, Ukrainian this time. Very good. The pianist did the announcing, replacing the mike each time carefully on the right side of the music rack. We each had a Cointreau on ice, but no chocolates. Too bad. Our “Explorer 400” promotion gets us free drinks the whole trip. At dinner, that means wine by the glass, $8 and under, which still gives us a huge choice. Creme Brûlée very hard to resist, and it’s on the menu EVERY night.You could over-indulge seriously if you wanted to!  TV has a music channel that plays all the time.

While I was up talking to the pianist when they took a break, our friend Daniel from the Amsterdam South Pacific cruise came up behind Tom, he  says, and said softly “Art Is; Letters Are,” in Tom’s ear. What fun to see them again, of all people!: Daniel and his quiet Chinese- scholar wife, Carol. So far we hadn’t recognized any passengers or crew. Except I did see in a seat ahead of us at the recital the old guy who virtually lives aboard. We think of Nancy and Kirk, and wonder what we’ll find in the way of of daily offerings on sea-days.

image1-45Our Lanai stateroom is really nice – the ‘sitting room’ part looking right out onto the port promenade deck through glass french doors that are one-way. You can go out directly from the stateroom onto the deck, but to come in, you go along to a regular entrance. To help us find our doors, we are right at the number 4 Boat-station sign. Inside, we’re just one door away from the base of the Atrium. The deck-plan is identical to Amsterdam.

We’re so glad we did the small upgrade that gives us this nice change.

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One thought on “Landfall: Sunrise in the Azores

  1. Oh Joanie – you were just made for blogging!!! I’m so enjoying travelling with you (again). Sounds like a good trip indeed. I’m very interested in “cruises” because I have thought I didn’t like them, but more and more good friends (and family) are very much enjoying them!! xx

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