Monthly Archives: October 2016

A Magical Treat, The Azorzes – Day 0

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As earlier said, my brother Steve and his wife Barbara were stationed in the Azores for a number of years. Well I think the number was three, but I could be wrong. In any case, I remember him saying that he loved it here.van (jpeg)Well after checking it out, I have to say I have to agree. This island is amazing. Ponta Delgada. What a place!

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We pulled in early just before sunrise. Once I got the boat tied up and… Oh never mind, it wasn’t me that was driving. I have a captain that drives this ship around for me. He’s a Carnival Captain. He seems to know what hes’s doing too. That’s good huh?

In any case, our tour guide was meeting us at 8:00 a.m. That’s early. We worked ourselves down to deck 0 and got off the ship. So far so good. There were 20 or 30, 40 passenger busses ready to load. We were looking for guy that had a 6 passenger car. Jackpot. There he was with a sign that said Patricia West. Now that was easy.

The day was a little dreary. Light rain, fog and coolish. We had our rain stuff so we were ready.pastures (jpeg) Off we went. He took us through town and headed to the mountains. Just what Iva loves. Skinny roads and switchbacks, all the way to the top. She did pretty good too. Her head went down a couple of times and a few grunts and I think I may have heard a small fart, but then again, it could have been me.

The scenery was amazing. I have never seen anything like it before. Maybe in Hawaii, but I really don’t think it was anything like this. It was like exploring Jurassic Park. The cattle roamed free. No barns. In fact when they need milking, they bring the pumps to the herd. Then the milk is taken to a central place.

They “LIVE” the fact that what you put on the plants and earth will wash off and into the water supply and oceans. So when the water gets polluted, the moss grows on the top, which shades the bottom and things die and the eco system changes and then nature is off balance.dirt road (jpeg) Do you know what they figured out to do about that? They thought about it for about 10 minutes or so and decided to not put pesticides and junk on the plants and earth. Guess what? That works. They work with nature. They don’t change the way the water flows. They protect and nurture nature because with out nature, we are all doomed. Their land, fields and waters flourish. What a concept.

So what I learned is that we can fix our land, lakes and seas by doing nothing. Let nature do what she does and the only job we need to do is to not break the system of nature. It just seems easy to me.

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We explored cliffs that dropped thousands of feet down. We saw panoramic views that can’t be captured on camera, just in our minds and hearts. We walked paths that went to the views that were sprinkled with cement tables and stools with a bbq pit near by each of them where people of the town can take their families and enjoy the day together cook a meal and bathe in the wilderness. They cherish life and nature.

We enjoyed a walk into the forest to finally come to a natural hot springs that is used by many. I only had to pick up one piece of paper on our walk. I do that all the time, but I wasn’t surprised to see it was a candy wrapper from the USA. I’m not saying an American dropped it, but it was kind of a poetic moment for me.

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We visited a tea factory that has been in operation since 1884. Did you know that tea plants live for 90 years and they just keep trimming the leaves off of them to make tea? I asked my guide how long does a tea plant take to grow to the point of being able to be trimmed. He said, “That’s a good question. No one that he knows has ever had to plant a tea plant. They just keep trimming them.” Makes sense. It had to be someone’s great grandpa or earlier person that planted the fields. I’m the master of stupid questions.

It was getting to the point we needed food. We talked to the driver and he said he had so much more to show us, but if we wanted food, he would take us to a place where they cook local food. They specialize in a stew that is traditional to the island. All types of meats potatoes and veggies that are put in a pot in a hole in the floor with hot coals. It cooks for 6 or 8 hours then served.

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I didn’t want all of that meat, so Pat and I went for the fish. Some had the beef and Iva, of course went for the stew. It was an amazing site to see. Not the stew we were expecting. No watery stew, it was all meat, potatoes and veggies. What a plate to see. Our fish was amazing. Rumor is that the beef was a little tough. No one went away hungary though. Also they grow pineapple here too. It was recommended that we have pineapple for desert. Well how different can a pineapple be. Holly Shit! It was the most amazing pineapple I’d ever put into my mouth. I love pineapple, plus it’s very good for you too, but this was nothing like I’ve never had before.

Time was running short. We needed to get back to the ship. Of course our guide has seven apartments that he rents out, so he wasn’t really worried to much about our departure time. But off to the ship we went. It was a day I will never forget. By the way, there are no snakes on the island. What a plus.

We have to sail away tomorrow. Dang. Pat and I are going to go back to that island one day. It has a direct flight, 4.5 hours from Boston. I think it has to be done. We need to spend a few weeks right here on Ponta Delgada, Azores.

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Tomorrow, the beginning of four sea days to Bermuda. The low is settling down and we will be out of it very soon Smooth sailing ahead.

capt. Paul (jpeg)

Capt. Paul


Paul@CellGrasp.com

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Another Sea Day – Day 0

You know, very amazing and interesting things happen to us all every moment of each day. Pat and I look at each other often and say, “It’s Now!” Sure we always know that we are living in the now and we also know that that can change at any moment and life can end or change instantly, for the better or the worse. That’s where being thankful for each moment comes in.

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Mysteries happen on cruise ships. Sea days seem to be the most creative ones. People we meet, things we see and situations that can change our lives need to be enjoyed and appreciated. So that’s what we do and when we get caught up in the daily stuff that we all get caught up in, we both appreciate the other one taking the moment to say, “It’s Now!”

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It also is mind boggling just how much can happen in the now. In cosmic time, our entire life is just the blink of an eye, a finger snap of existence in the realm of all time, so when we take a moment of our lives and stop and enjoy it, it is a finger snap at warp speed. In fact, as I contemplate it, right now, it may not even exist, yet, we are experiencing it, so it must or maybe it doesn’t. This is getting weird. Sorry. It must be a SEA DAY.

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It’s rough again today. It is the second day of this low that we are traveling through. The seas are still around the 15 to 20 foot mark, the wind is still around the 40 plus knots, the sky is cloudy and rain comes and goes. But we are warm, comfy and dry. That’s a plus for being on a ship this size. The Vista is treating us very well.

Pete seems to be feeling the seas. He has found out about wrist bands for motion sickness and they seem to be working just fine for him. He is continuing to move. He’s up in the morning for his morning workout and walk and still has half a grin on his face. I can tell though that he’s ready to get to some smother seas and/or a salty piece of land.

So today, we continue our journey toward the Azores. We’ll be in tomorrow and be able to kick back and get our feet on the ground for a while. The weather doesn’t look like it’s going to be a great tour day, but tour we will. My brother Steve and his wife Barbara spent about three years in the Azores while he was stationed there with the Army. I know he liked it a lot.

show (jpeg)Tomorrow, the Azores.

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Capt. Paul


Paul@CellGrasp.com

They Promise a Bumpy Ride – Day 0

Well as we say goodby to Europe, our captain has promised us that the sea conditions are going to deterate for the next couple of days as we sail into a nice low pressure system. As we found out in the middle of the night, he was right. We could feel the ship rolling and we were rocking. Good thing the sheets were tucked in.

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The seas are pushing 5.5 meters, but the good news is that they are 15 seconds apart. The wind is 45 knots. With a ship this size with stableizers, we are bouncing and rolling, but still a very comfy ride. Not like being in Panacea in 10 footers that’s for sure. Yes, we can’t really walk a straight line in the hallways and they have battened down the hatches. The cove balconies are closed and the deck chairs are tied down. All is well.

There are activities everywhere to keep us busy if we want to stay busy. But for me, I’m kicking back. It’s going to take a few days just to relax from the whirl wind European Adventure… So much to process. I’m smiling and feeling so grateful that we had this opratunity. Thanks to Pat for working on this for two years and making it happen. She is the best.

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Well sea days are short blogs. We nap, eat, drink, laugh meet people, share story, and collect new memories. It’s a special time to watch the water go by, read a book and catch a news cast about Hillary and Trump. (They were named in alphabetical order to be fair, with out any prejudice. I don’t need anyone commenting that I’m promoting Hillary because I listed her first. Seems like people are getting a little touchy about such things. Although, secretly, I’m hoping that she becomes our next president. Don’t tell anyone.)

So do yourself a favor. Take a sea day for yourself. Read a book, take a walk, be thankful and grateful for every moment of your life, make someone smile, carry someone’s groceries to their car for them, watch the clouds, put off to tomorrow everything and take the day for what it is. These are the moments you need to rejuvenate. You are blessed. Make today count… Ahhhhh… It feels good, huh?

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Guess what, tomorrow is a sea day too. Bummer, huh? No. Not really, I’ll take it.

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Capt. Paul


Paul@CellGrasp.com

The City & Rock of Gibraltar – Day 0

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So it would be a Day 0 on the ‘ol Partly Calendar. Stop in the morning and leave in the evening, so it’s just a travel day. I get confused sometimes, but it’s okay, I made up that 0.x system. Maybe Brother Dan is right. Maybe.

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This morning is wonder-filled. It’s dark as we enter the port and we can see the outline of the Rock of Gibraltar looming from the sea.

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We don’t have a clue just how cool this place is. The city, the history and the Rock. Mysteries abound. But we are on our way to check it out.

Our tour was put together for us by some of Pat’s friends on Cruise Critic, so all we had to do is be at the right place at the right time.

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That’s good for me. I get lost pretty easy. Of course I see a lot more things than most people do on tours and so far have not gotten arrested for opening the closed doors. We found some people we knew and were lead to the right place and jumped up on our bus, found our seats and settled in. Pete and Iva were a couple of rows behind us, so we were ready for the day.

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We headed out of the port area and traveled through the City of Gibraltar. If you remember, from an earlier post, Iva is afraid of heights. So we didn’t tell her that we were going to drive this 24 passenger bus up the side of the Rock of Gibraltar. So we enjoyed riding around the city, by the boarder, the sea and across the airport. That’s right, across. It seems that instead of building a tunnel for the cars and foot traffic, they just built a road across the runway. Then when a plane comes in to land, they stop the foot and car traffic, let the plane land then continue to let the cars and people travel across the runway to caontine their journey. OSHA would have fun with this one.

We also went to our first stop to get a nice view of the Atlantic and the Straights of Gibraltar as well as the Mediterranean Sea all standing in one spot. What a view.

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Once back on the bus, we started the real climb up the Rock. Very narrow roads with switchbacks had Iva’s head down and she was facing her fears, again. We always remind her that what goes up must come down. She did great. I think she’s getting used to this way of travel. Maybe not. You’ll have to ask her.

As we got a bit higher, there was a bus traffic jam. Monkey’s. Yep, they’re famous for being here. They seem to be pretty well calm and very comfortable with people. We like monkeys. One of them used Pat’s shoulder as a springboard to jump from one bus roof to another. That caught her by surprise. It was quite a site and a good stop to use the head.

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Our next stop along this road was a place where we could go into the caves of the Rock of Gibraltar. I really didn’t know that they had “Caves.” I thought they just had tunnels from for the old military. Nope. These are real caves. In the main cave, they have put about 100 chairs and do concerts in the cave itself. Now that would be pretty cool to listen to. It was quite a site with blinking lights set to music. It did make it a little hard to watch your step at times with the shadows moving to the music, but it was quite a display. Just like the 60’s and 70’s I think I remember those same shadows and colors.

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After the cave stop, we continued up the Rock to the tunnels. Pete and I took the 300 meter steep walk to the top to poke around in the tunnels. We made it just fine and had some great views at the same time. Once back down the hill, Pete said he was going to use the restroom before getting on the bus. He came back and told me that they were at the top of the hill. He decided to wait for the next stop. Good move Pete.

On the way back we got some great views of the City of Gibraltar and the port where there was this little cruise ship. Yep, that’s our home and she is doing just fine taking very good care of us all. Thanks Vista. We love you too.

Once back to almost sea level, we drove around the City and saw some amazing streets and buildings and a ton of construction. It seems like they are upgrading everything. We’ll have to come back and see what they’ve done to the City in a few years. Kind of like Fort Myers Beach. We’ll just have to wait and see.

So back into the real World, so to speak. A quick stop at the Duty Free shop and found a large bottle of Absolute Vodka for 10 euro and we were set for the trip across the Atlantic. Yep. This is where we leave the mainland and head to the Azores. They are about 3oo miles west of here. It will take us two days to get there, and the weather is promising to deterate with 20 foot seas and 45 knot winds. Let’s begin the shake down cruise.church (jpeg)

Next stop, the Azores…

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Capt. Paul


Paul@CellGrasp.com

It’s Sooo Good to Wake Up… Day 0

NOTICE: These blogs are running late as I post them. Also, photos may be attached or not. Bandwidth… They get uploaded when I have available bandwidth to do so. I’m keeping them in order, but the dates of posting may not be the day that the event happened. Maybe, I’ll edit the dates in when I sit down with a calendar. Maybe not. I’m not sure this morning, but I’ll keep you posted on that…

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I mean, it’s so good to wake up and know that I have absolutely nothing to do today. It’s a “SEA DAY.” What a stupid thought that is to have in the morning when you wake up. I mean really? Nothing to do? Hmmm let me think about that… Ooops, I just did something.

I think the best example I can use right now is when I first moved in with Pat, my amazing wife after 25 years of marriage and 29 years of being together. I moved in and her daughter Stacie, well our daughter now, used to tell me how much work it was to get out of the house in the morning. Well being a guy, I said really? All you need to to is get up, clean up and get dressed and hit the road. I guess this just isn’t the case, and I was told so in a lot of words.

“No Paul, it’s not that easy. It takes a bit to wake up and then I have to wash my face, brush my teeth, do my hair, do my make-up, choose what clothes to wear, get something to eat and THEN I can hit the road.” Now that puts it in perspective. I get it now.

So I guess when I wake up with gratefulness and thankfulness and tell myself that I have absolutely nothing to do today is a complete lie that I’m telling myself. I need to get out of bed, stretch, wash my face, brush my teeth, buff my bald head, go potty, stretch and move again, make a cup of coffee then sit down and contemplate what to do next. So life is pretty darn busy on a sea day. No rest for this guy.

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But they are sea days. I reflect a lot and do a little note taking, make a few lists, watch the water go by and do some walking. They are great days. Sure, there are distractions on a ship this size, things like maybe take in a movie in the iMax Theater or catch a show or two. I meet new people. I dream sailing and CellGrasp dreams. It’s all very good and realaxing to say the least.

So today I’ll do some photo editing since I can do that offline. It seems that the WiFi is running pretty slowly with the sea conditions. I understand bandwidth and 4,000 people on facebook as well as a satellite trying to stay connected to a blip on the sea. No worries. I can write. I can dream and I can live.

I guess I’d better get busy. Tomorrow is Gibraltar. It’s the jumping off point for us and we will be saying goodby to the mainland of Europe. On this fast paced, snapshot trip, I’ve learned so much and experienced the people of many places in the blink of an eye. It has shown me that I want to come back and spend some time.

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I have a friend in MN that, about three years ago, decided to take a 30 day trip in September and with a backpack heads to Europe and engages the lifestyle completely. He has made this a yearly adventure in his life. Go Dr. Andrew Lucking, go. I get it.

So I’m going to play. Tomorrow, Gibraltar and a trip up the Rock…

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Capt. Paul


Paul@CellGrasp.com

The End & The Beginning in Barcelona – Day 0

* NOTE: Because of sea conditions our WiFi connections have a mind of their own. I’m between Gibraltar and the Azores right now. Seas around 15ish feet or so. They are saying 5.3 meters. So photos are not loading. I’ll be posting ther text versions of this blog and try to match up photos later when possible. 

So when things end, things begin… It can be a hard process, or a process of celebration. It is where we live each moment of each second of our lives. We are the creators of our lives and we choose the situations we are in to learn the lessons and to receive the gifts of the moments we create. It is how we react to those moments that we’ve created that causes the emotions of joy or sorrow, happiness or anger, or whatever it is. That’s when the impression happens. That’s the reward. That’s our lives… That’s where we live. Whew, I’m glad I got through all that. Let’s move on.

We pulled into Barcelona an amazing working port. A city that is rich with history as they all are, but they all seem to have their own special magic. Barcelona is a visual smack right up the side of the head. Gothic architecture, mixed in with a modern energy yet it’s old world. Proud and healthy. I could spend some time here.

Today, we end our 10 day Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Carnival Vista. We packed our bags last night and we are ready to vacate our room. Well sort of. We are only moving downstairs, one floor and still aft. In fact, we put all our hanging clothes on movable metal hangers and the room stewards are going to move our stuff to the new room while we checkout and get our new room keys. As soon as that is done, we are jumping on a Hop on/Hop off bus and take a tour of Barcelona.

As we leave the ship, we jump on a shuttle to take us out of the port to the pick up station for the bus. Once aboard, we hook up our headphones and find the station in English and begin our guided tour with the option to jump off anywhere we want with another bus just 10 minutes behind.

We wove around the port and cruised by the marinas all groomed and beautiful. Then off to the city center we went. What a treat to see those amazing gothic buildings of a thousand years ago right along side of modern shops, businesses and apartments. Barcelona has a real mix of streets and roundabouts. Many old streets that only hold one car, mixed with newer two lane streets and even some four laner’s to move around on.

It was beginning to happen. I had to pee. I held off as long as physically possible and then I told the rest of our group that they could do what they wanted, but I’m getting off at the next stop. Good thing to. We found a pizza place that was not going to sell pizza until noon, but had coffee ready to go. So we all used the bathroom and picked up four speciality coffees and hit the streets looking for a pair scissors and and some finger nail clippers. Not as easy of a task as you think. But we did it.

As Iva has a fettish for food, we were trying to catch another bus, but missed a few of them while I was in a couple of pharmacies. As I caught up with the others at the bus stop, Pete and Iva said they’d be right back. Pat and I let a couple of more buses pass by and then Iva poked her head out of an alley and say, “Hey come here, you’ve got to see this.” So off we went down the alley, ducked in between two craft fair type booths and walked in a door. Wow! A massive indoor fresh market with vendor after vendor with fresh food. I mean real fresh food, cheeses, veggies, meats, eggs, chickens with the heads on, but can be cut to order. Beef legs on clamps where guys with saws are ready to cut you off a hunk. Seafood that was still jumping around on the ice. Amazing to say the least.

They also had an attached standard market that had scissors and finger nail clippers. My beard and Pat’s thumb nail were saved. We also bought a slab of Parmigiana cheese for around 5.50 Euro. That’s a great deal. Now off to the bus stop.

Sure, we were in the time of the afternoon rush. We split up into twos and Pete and Iva were gone. We waited for a couple more full busses and then got on one and started heading the hour long ride back to the port. It was beautiful. Up to the top of the mountain and past the Olympic Statium. (Yep, thoughts of Krysta Palmer ran through my head.) Then down the hill to the sea port to catch up with Pete and Iva. There was a great street market going on with tons of cool nautical stuff, but no time to get caught up in that. We had a ship to catch.

Once back to the Vista, we boarded with our new cards and headed to our new rooms. All of our stuff was there and we began the process of moving back in. we have just started the 13 Day Trans-Atlantic leg of the trip. We only have three stops with this one, the rest are sea days. Gibraltar, the Azores, and Bermuda. We sail into New York on November 3rd.

Tomorrow, our first sea day…

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Capt. Paul

Paul@CellGrasp.com

The Coast of Marseille France – Day 0.6


You know being on the ship and we’re hitting a lot of ports, I didn’t want to miss a day. So we’re sailing the coast of Marseille France. We wake up in the morning and it’s pretty damp, really just a drizzle. In any case we decided we would make today a sea day. We decided to it was time to go to breakfast, get some coffee, and then start our day. Let it come as it may, we were excited to have a change.

Pete and Iva decided to take a tour into town and check out the city. That left Pat and I with figuring out what to do with our day. We decided that it was a good game for laundry, take a nap, watch a movie, Take a nap, and rest up for the next day. A pretty heavy schedule with checking emails and reading too. Tomorrow we are going to be in Barcelona… Where is the downside!

Barcelona is also where we have to move to a different room. We are going down one floor, so today, we also have to pack up our stuff and get ready to move. This is the last day of our 10 day Mediterranean voyage. Tomorrow starts our 3 day trans-Atlantic voyage to New York.

Today we got  see parts of the ship we haven’t seen before. We also just relaxed and took good care of each other. And got ourselves all rested up for the next few days. We’ll have to put Marseille France into our, “do it next time list.” It truly turned out to be quite a remarkable day. Sometimes taking care of yourself is probably the best thing that you can do for yourself.

In fact I think it’s something we should do more often. We got some rest time, some work done, re-connected, packed our stuff and I even have a clean shirt too. It was a great day.
Tomorrow, Barcelona Spain.

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Capt. Paul


Paul@CellGrasp.com