Instead we cried as the lovely, brilliant flautist Gillie Poznansky and the wonderfully talented pianist Mark Tanner left us in Buenos Aires at the end of their contract. They had given five superb recitals over the previous two weeks and had captivated us all. They were also great dinner companions.
Our next port is Puerto Madryn, Argentina where we are due tomorrow, but there are apparently problems there including some sort of blockade of the port. The Captain reported in her regular noon broadcast that there was a potential difficulty. The problems that she faced were that she has a number of passengers who are due to leave the ship there, she also has a group who have booked a 4 day tour of Patagonia returning to the ship in Ushuaia. And she needs to take on 2 Chilean pilots to assist her in navigating the waters off Cape Horn and through the Beagle Channel.
Montevideo is on the north shore of the River Plate (which separates Uruguay from Argentina) with Buenos Aires being 140 miles to the west on the southern shore.
What a great day! This was probably our best port visit ever. Carole Gordon was recently in S America with Ian, and told us that the Brazilian jewelllery firm H Stern offered tours of the City incorporating a visit to their headquarters.
John McCarthy was on board for the second segment and gave two lectures and also took part in a Q&A session. You will recall that he was kidnapped in Beirut in 1986 and held as a hostage for 5 years. He is a brilliant speaker and talked about his capture and imprisonment, his time in solitary and his relationships with others – Brian Keenan, Terry Waite and three Americans.
One of the highlights of each day is dinner in the Britannia Restaurant. With a little help from some friends (they know who they are) we were allocated the table that we had used in the past and which we like. For the first segment from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, we enjoyed the company of Geoff and Pam from Harrow, who were intending to spend a few days in Florida, before returning by air to the UK. Henry and Marlene made up the table for 6. They were using the ship as a ferry to get them to their holiday home in Boca Raton, Florida. They were all in great form.
After Fort Lauderdale we were joined by Kim Brumpton, originally from Brisbane but now resident in California and his ‘boss’ Deidrie Ihlam who runs a travel agency in California. Deidrie, with Kim’s assistance, is hosting a group of her clients on QV.
We were also joined by the classical musicians, Mark Tanner and Gillian Poznansky, who are giving 5 wonderful recitals during the segment between Ft Lauderdale and Buenos Airies. They are a lovely couple except that they can both do Super Fiendish Sudokus really rapidly (so they say!). Jane and I thought we were pretty good, but we are clearly in a different (lower) league!
Fortaleza was a maiden call for QV. The first time here and probably the last. QV is apparently the largest passenger ship to call, but that is not surprising because the facilities were poor. We moored in the commercial port (which in itself is not unusual in a port where there are no passenger terminals). It was dirty and uneven with railway lines crossing the dockside. The locals appeared to be totally disorganised and unable to cope with the large number of coaches and people.
On Sunday we crossed the Equator. King Neptune and his Queen boarded just after lunch and sentenced the Pollys who had not crossed the line before for a series of offences. Punishments were carried out ruthlessly on men and women alike. In the main they ended up covered in gunge extracted from the kitchen refuse bins. When we actually crossed the Equator later elderly passengers were warned to hang on to the handrails in case the ship lurched as it went over the line and others were to be seen looking out over the ocean hoping to spot the red line.
I woke to see the sun rising over Bridgetown, as we approached the island of Barbados after three days at sea.
After we made fast on the main berth, I noticed a large crane bearing the name LIEBHERR and was reminded of Nicola Cortese’s fallout with Katharina Liebherr a few hours earlier. Southampton Football Club appeared to have achieved stability but in hindsight I suppose it was inevitable that the owner of a multi million pound business could not allow the existing regime to continue to run it as their private fiefdom. But I digress! Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas followed us in and moored against the harbour wall. She was on a 7 day voyage from Puerto Rico around the Caribbean.
My favourite place for watching us arrive and depart is just above the bridge. Few passengers know of it or how to access it. I regard it as my private deck and tell very few people how to find it!
Once ashore, our plan was to find a taxi and head off to the Orchid Farm that we had not visited before. Outside the terminal building a driver spotted the wheelchair, said that he had a 12 seater and 2 spare places and a wheelchair lift. He agreed to take in the Orchids as part of the tour. Perfect. Once we were loaded in we headed north, up the West side of the island, past the Kensington Oval, out of the Parish of St Michael and into the Parish of St James. We passed the luxury hotels where many of you will have stayed and arrived in Holetown. Jane and I remember it because we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary there at the Glitter Bay and Royal Pavilion both of which have apparently seen better days, according to a local lady.
The first settlers landed at what is now Holetown in 1626 and a wooden church was built there almost immediately. It was replaced by a coral-stone building in the early 1680’s and it is still there today as the Parish Church of St James. We then headed inland through lush farmland and rose up to one of the highest points on the island. From Highland we had magnificent views of the east coast, known as the Atlantic Coast. The cattle in the fields around us looked to be very well fed beasts in terrific shape. The roads were steep and narrow and we passed sugar plantations – sadly no longer a major source of revenue for the island. Although we did not visit it on this occasion, we were near to the Francia Plantation owned at one time by our friends the Sisnett family.
We then travelled south to Orchid World. Set on a hill, it was not easy to negotiate with a wheelchair, and to put it mildly, the orchids were not very impressive. The display at Asda, Chandlers Ford is always better than this! Jane will report separately in her blog on accessibility.
We then headed south to Bridgetown and back to the ship to hear the Captain announce that we had 1735 nautical miles to cover before reaching our next port Fortaleza, Brazil.
Apologies for the lack of photos, but the internet is very, very slow today and it is impossible to download the Barbados photos which will follow in time!