Friday, January 9, 2015

Saturday and Sunday, December 13-14, 2014 - Callao (Lima), Peru – Mostly Cloudy – 69F

Puntarenas, Costa Rica to Callao, Peru: 1418 Nautical Miles (17.7 knots)

Port Information.  Lima, Peru along with its contiguous port, Callao, has a population of 8.7 million people.  This makes it the third largest city in the Americas and larger than New York City.  The ship is docked at Callao, a short drive from Lima proper.  The traffic is an issue and getting to various parts of the city is a difficult and time consuming process.  Homes in Lima are also secured with both razor wire and electrification.  The city also has a significant Chinese population as demonstrated by the large number of Chinese restaurants (“Chifa”) visible throughout Lima.

It was a dreary, gray, cloudy weekend in Lima, Peru (just like home).  Much of the ship was away at Machu Pichu (on a $1000s of dollar side trip), which gave the rest of us the run of the ship and increased the quiet many fold.  Machu Pichu will have to be part of some future trip.

20141214_Lima Harbor (Small)20141214_Callao port 1 (Small)

In the picture below, the center of the pictures contains a huge pile of scuttled ships.  It’s a kind of marine art placement, that will probably be growing as more ships are added to the heap.  I guess there is no other option for dead ships.

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Scuttled Ships in the Harbor

It was a bit late in the cruise, but I started ordering Iced Decaf Mocha Lattes at the International Café.  They were quite good and a perfect drink for sitting and reading in the Atrium.

20141214_International Cafe (Small)

Spending Time with Books and Lattes

We have had a lot of lunches in the Horizon Court Restaurant so I thought it might be a good idea to show a typical lunch – salad from the buffet, a veggie wrap from the buffet, and a slice of pizza (make sure it is freshly made) from Prego’s Pizzeria on the Pool Deck.  Not bad when you combine it with the great views from the Café.

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Horizon Court Lunch

Now that were about half way through our trip, we thought it would be a good idea to check out some of the other parts of the ship.  One of these places (that practically no one visits) is the “Skywalker Lounge” Disco.  It turned out that this is a very cool place with a moving sidewalk that takes you to the entrance from the elevator.

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Skywalker Lounge and Moving Sidewalk

We even got a close up look at all of the workings inside of the stacks on the top deck.

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The Stacks

Our tour “Lima City Tour and Gold Museum” will take us to the historical center of Lima, then lunch, and then finally, the Gold Museum of Peru.  As we head out through Callao (not very inviting place) and into Lima (and it’s horrific traffic), we passed a familiar place – a Gold’s Gym Express.

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Gold’s Gym Express (for light workouts?)

The bus did not stop but I did get pictures of the Plaza San Martin.  There is an equestrian statue of the Libertador in the center of the square.  The square is teeming with people today despite the cloudy, cool weather.

20141213_Plaza San Martin (Small) 20141213_Plaza San Martin 1 (Small) 

Plaza San Martin, Lima

The bus did stop at the Plaza Mayor so we could get some pictures of the buildings surrounding the major square.  Staying with the tour, I was unable to get a picture of the Government Palace (still heavily guarded).  I did get a shot of the Cathedral of Lima (completed in 1622).  Some passengers wanted to go into the cathedral but that was not on the itinerary of this trip.

20141213_Cathedral of Lima (Small)

Cathedral of Lima

The tour walked a block northeast of the Plaza Mayor to the San Francisco Monastery (completed in 1774).  The Catacombs, which we did not visit, contained thousands of skulls and bones, and served as a burial place until the city cemetery was opened in 1808.

 20141213_San Francisco Monastery (Small)

San Francisco Monastery

We did get a chance to see the magnificent gardens and monastery buildings.

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Grounds and Gardens – San Francisco Monastery

Our next stop was the Convent of Santo Domingo.  The convent also has picturesque gardens as well as an extensive library (below).

 20141213_Convent of Santo Domingo (Small)

20141213_Santo Domingo Convent (Small) 20141213_Library Santo Domingo Convent (Small) 

20141213_us at Convent Santo Domingo (Small)

Above – Convent of Santo Domingo

Next up – Lunch. We had discussed our need for veggie or fish options for lunch with our guide as well as a rep for the tour company and we were assured that the restaurant would have plenty of options.

The restaurant was called Nuevo Peru

20141213_Lunch venue Nuevo Peru (Small)

The restaurant looked quite new – it had cafeteria bench seating.  The food was found at several buffet stations.  You could also get pasta and meat made to order at one of the stations (we never got to try that).  Instead, we had salads, vegetarian items such as beans (they were delicious), empanadas, tuna dishes (served by one of the staff), French fries, really good bread, and strange but tasty desserts.  When we got there, it was just our passengers but soon at least three other busses arrived.  We were lucky to have gone through the lines early since it was nearly impossible to get food once everyone arrived.

 20141213_ Nuevo Peru (Small)

Nuevo Peru Packed with Patrons

20141213_ Nuevo Peru buffet line tuna server (Small)

Nuevo Peru Tuna Pastry Station

Soft drinks were included so I thought I would try the local “Inca Kola”.  Very sweet and definitely an acquired taste.  It could be what killed off the Incas.

 20141213_Inca Cola (Small)

When we were waiting to leave on the bus, we were told that this lunch would cost more than $30 per person.  I think we did all right and the food was good.

Our next stop, after wandering through good and bad neighborhoods, was the “Gold Museum of Peru”.  There were no pictures allowed inside so only exteriors were taken.  We didn’t stay in the museum too long since it was quite musty in there.  I found the mummies and the weaponry much more interesting that the gold.

  20141213_Gold Museum of Peru (Small) 20141213_Gold Museum canon (Small) 20141213_ Gold Museum benefactor (Small) 

Gold Museum of Peru

Our final stop was the “Indian Market”.  There were many stores selling pretty much the same items.  Still haven’t found a baseball cap that fits.  Passengers spent some money there.  My favorite thing – being called “Caballero” instead of Senor by the store keepers.

It took a fair amount of time to get back to the ship.  The bus tried to find the best routes so it travelled through highly secured homes (barbed wire, razor wire, and electrified fences – the trifecta of security).

Once back on the ship, we went up to the Horizon Café to watch the sail away. 

20141214_ Callao sailaway (Small) 20141214_Callao sailaway 1 (Small)20141214_Horizon Court sailaway (Small)

Lima Peru Sail Away

Chilling out was the plan for the rest of the evening.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Friday, December 12, 2014 – At Sea – Pacific Ocean – Cloudy – 72F

A much cooler day at sea…

20141212_At sea (Small)

Can’t dally this morning because my next talk (number 8) is at 10:00 AM.  Morning talks are not usually well attended but we will see.

“Life and Death of Pharaohs”, one of the more complicated talks, drew a very good crowd - more than 90 percent full (some people standing in the back) – the only seats not filled were in the front at the side where it was difficult to see the screen – the attendance was approximately 600 plus people.  I checked with some passengers later and they told me the talk was not confusing at all.

We had pretty much the rest of the day to ourselves – reading and hanging out.

At 5:00 PM, we went to the Friday Night Service (after being chided that we missed a well attended service a week ago).  There was another pretty good turnout – the service was led by one of the passengers and the ship provided pamphlets.  Of course, it was great to get some authentic Manischewitz wine and Challah.

Dinner was in the Dining Room.

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Tribute to Beatles – Atrium

The rest of the evening was spent listed to Orphea in the Wheelhouse Lounge and reading.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 – At Sea – Pacific Ocean – Mostly Sunny – 82F

Another nice day at sea as we are scheduled to cross the Equator…

20141211_just south of Equator (Small)

Ship’s Position

I am up a little earlier today because I want to be out on the deck when the Golden Princess crosses the Equator at approximately 7:20 AM.  This will be our second Equatorial crossing but the first during the day.

The deck was surprisingly empty at 7:20 AM (not a big deal for a lot of people, I guess).  The air temperature was warm but the skies were cloudy over relatively calm seas.  Since there was no one out there but me, I had to resort to a “selfie”, which have always been sub-par.

20141211_Crossing the Equator 1 (Small)

20141211_Crossing Equator (Small)

20141211_crossing the Equator (Small)

Top three – Crossing the Equator at 7:20 AM Local Time

I am pretty free this morning as my next talk is scheduled for 2 PM this afternoon.  I am now reading “The Closers”, another Harry Bosch Novel by Michael Connelly.  This story is not the usual Bosch fare in that it involves a Cold Case and a recent CODIS Cold Hit.  Harry has come out of retirement to work with the “Open-Unsolved” Case Unit (Cold Cases).  The book also uses at least one real LAPD Cold Case detective, Rick Jackson, as a character in the story.  The room that Harry works out of (Parker Center 503) is the real room that Rick Jackson worked out of when we was working cases for the LAPD – e.g. “Southland Strangler”. 

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At 11:00 AM, the ship is having a “Crossing the Equator” Ceremony on the Pool Deck.  It is a naval tradition to initiate “pollywogs”, sailors, who have never crossed the Equator, into the Kingdom of King Neptune.  Once initiated, sailors become “Shellbacks” or children of Neptune.  Sammi was the host of the ceremony.  It’s hard to describe what went on but it involved “King Neptune”, his wife, and the “Royal Court” (all singers, dancers, and crew).  Several passengers (couples) went through the initiation process.  They were subjected to all sorts of crazy things.  It was fun and zany and outrageous. 

The last time, we crossed the Equator, the ceremony involved getting drenched by a bucket of sea water.  Things have escalated.

  20141211_Polywog Ceremony (Small)

Let the Ceremony Begin

20141211_ Polywog Ceremony and Sammi (Small)

Sammi Waiting to Start

20141211_Neptune and Queen Polywog Ceremony (Small)

King Neptune and Queen Make an Entrance

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Above – Neptune’s Court

20141211_Staff Captain and Mrs Neptune (Small)

Official Start by the Staff Captain

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First Couple to be Initiated

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Initiation – Too Painful to Watch

The “Lost Dauphin of France” – is the seventh and one of my shortest presentations so there is no pressure to hurry to finish.  There is another terrific crowd – around 80 percent full – approximately 550 passengers.  The talk went smoothly.

Tonight, we have reservations in the Bernini Dining Room at 5:30 PM.  The entrée was Breaded Sole (excellent) along with Spaghetti Carbonara (sans ham) – also very good.  Dinner was quiet, good, and relaxing.

20141211_Atrium (Small)

The Atrium

To cap off a full day, there was a deck party up on the Pool Deck.  We went up to check it out.  It wasn’t super well attended but the band was loud and the people were dancing.

20141211_deck party (Small) 20141211_deck party 1 (Small) 

Pool Party

“Hawley Magic” is the show tonight. We decided not to attend; instead, I spent the evening reading my Bosch Novel.