Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bakery or Bus

We were in Warnemunde, Germany, today. Warnemunde is a little seaside resort town popular with Germans as a summer vacation spot. It has a nice beach, moderate temperatures and enough shopping to keep tourists happy. It is also a gateway to historic Rostock which gained prominence as part of the Hanseatic League centuries ago and, for the ship’s purposes, a starting point for a 13-hour bus trip to Berlin. The various Berlin excursions attracted several hundred passengers today, but we were not among them.

We walked into town around 10:00 and wandered past the train station. Because it is on the coast, it is the terminus for the Rostock commuter line. We saw passenger trains going in both directions today but no freight trains; that may have been just a matter of timing. The center of tourist Warnemunde is centered on the church square. There are shops of all types surrounding the square and the streets feeding into it as well as parking lots in front of and behind the church. The town was crowded with tourists today as there were 3 cruise ships in port, but we think one of them uses Warnemunde as its home port. We also saw numerous big ferries [again] throughout the day.
We stopped to buy two lace doilies for the night tables in the guest bedroom and later for some glass beads which MA will have strung when we get home. Our only other stop was for a mid-morning snack at a bakery. We split a Coke and D had an apple pastry; Ed and Roxanne got hot chocolate and a doughnut. We had thought about sausage, but it was too early for lunch. We were back on board by 12:10.

We read for a while before lunch. MA has just started and D is almost finished the last book in the Stieg Larssson series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. We have read the other two already on the trip. We ate in the Lido because the MDR was closed. After lunch, we read some more before going to trivia.

Our usual trivia host Kevin was not in attendance today. We had seen him earlier as we were leaving and he told us that his grandmother had died last night and he was going home, but that he expected to see us in the spring when we return to the Prinsendam. As it turned out, the train from Warnemunde would not have gotten him to the airport in time to make his plane, so he returned to the ship and will fly from Copenhagen tomorrow. HAL is good about family emergencies, we have been told, so we expect that the company will pay his air fare home and back. He told the girl who is covering trivia for him that he hoped to be back for the next cruise which starts Saturday in Tilbury.

As for trivia itself, we laughed, we cried and then we tied for first again, so our streak is still going. Instead of having a tie-breaker, Denise, covering for Kevin, simply gave Prinsendam pins to both teams. It seem a little unfair since there were only three teams playing and we felt a little sorry for the odd team out. We laughed and sang our way through the game – What was Jeremiah? We sang the answer when it was time to score the papers? Whose trial included the skulls of her parents and an axe? We sang that answer, too. [Yesterday in old Fall River Mr. Andrew Borden died/And they got his daughter Lizzie on a charge of homicide….] Naturally, the other teams thought we were more than a little crazy.

D read while MA napped after trivia and then we got ready for dinner. We ate dinner in the Pinnacle Grill with Roxanne and Ed. The Pinnacle is primarily a steak house with a surcharge. 4-Star Mariners get a 50% discount, so, for example, it only cost Ed and Roxanne $10 apiece when they went for their anniversary. More on that shortly.

MA had shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad and a lobster tail. D had lobster bisque, fixed tableside; the Caesar salad [also fixed tableside]; and a bone-in rib eye steak big enough for two people. Side dishes included creamed spinach, asparagus, sautéed onions and baked potato. For dessert, we both had a trio of crème brulees. It was delicious but too much food.

When it came time to pay, the waiter approached the table and D handed him gift vouchers we had received the day we embarked in July. We assumed they were for one person each but the waiter took them, apologized for not realizing that we had them and never came back. We waited a reasonable time while we continued talking but no one came to ask Ed and Roxanne to sign for dinner, so we left. It will be interesting to see our bills when we leave this week.

We read before bed and then braced ourselves for

Tomorrow – Copenhagen, Denmark.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just Riding in the Rain

Here’s what kind of day it was -- the most famous landmark in Denmark was on vacation.

We decided to take the Copenhagen HoHo so we could see more of the city. If time permitted, we planned to return to places of interest. There are three HoHo routes, but only one stopped right in front of the ship. [There are other tourist buses, too, but the HoHo is always reliable.] We “hopped on” around 10:15. MA and Roxanne sat on the bottom level while Ed and D were able to snag front row seats on the top. These are the best seats because there is unlimited visibility directly ahead. The bus had a retractable roof which was closed today.

We drove first past a section of the old defensive wall of the city but which now houses retail shops selling mostly clothing. It was right on the pier with us and was opposite another cruise ship. The first stop on the itinerary was the Little Mermaid statue famous in stories, movies and travel books. People could get off the bus here to take pictures or to wander around and wait for the next bus, due in 30 minutes. We saw no reason the so much as move – the Little Mermaid is currently housed in a Danish exhibition in Shanghai and has been there for several months. All that appears in her usual place is a flat-screen monitor showing people in China looking at the sculpture. We knew this ahead of time so we were not surprised; others on the bus were taken aback, though.

Like most HoHos, ours wandered in a quasi-circular path so that it passed some of the high points of Copenhagen such as the Amelienborg Royal Palace, the Rosenborg Castle and Tivoli Gardens amusement park. Sight-lines were not very good, so we could not see very much of the historical landmarks, but we had excellent views of the Nyhavn area. There were brightly painted shops and cafes on all sides of a canal and the surrounding streets. Once considered seedy, the area is now one of the entertainment centers of Denmark’s capital. Tour boats [the ever-popular bateau mouche] were present in the canal.

We reached the end of the line in the center city at City Hall Square and had to change buses. We thought about switching to another line but while we waited, light rain began falling. We decided instead to board another red line bus and return to the ship. This way, at least, we would have seen everything on that route. The first stop after city Hall Square was just around the corner at the entrance to Tivoli, one of Europe’s best known amusement and entertainment areas. We could see the sign but nothing else. Right next door was the obligatory Hard Rock. If we had known, we might have walked over and then caught the bus there. Sorry, Tim.

All the while, we had been having intermittent showers, some of them heavy and some almost misty. Many of D’s photographs show the rain drops on the bus window better than they do Copenhagen. It was not raining when we returned to the ship before noon but an hour later, the skies opened up for a deluge. We were at lunch in the MDR and watched it for all of three minutes before it ended as abruptly as it had started. The weather gods have let us down for the last few days.

We barely kept our trivia streak alive today. We tied for first and had to win a tiebreaker. [What oil had been used for 2000 years for anointing Catholics? How many states border the Great Lakes? What is the fastest animal on 2 legs? What basketball player was known as “The Big O?”] We have now won the seven contests in which we have participated on this segment and would have tied or won if we had played on Sunday instead of eating with the captain. This cannot last, but it’s fun so far.

We were back in the MDR tonight and, frankly, it was nice to be home. We were not that impressed with the Pinnacle Grill but the price was right. We don’t know if we will go on next year’s cruise even at half-price. MA had the vegetarian again, spicy lentils this time, and d had the leg of lamb. We are becoming jaded by the food choices and are looking forward to eating “normal” food when we get home next week.

On the weather front [pun intended], the captain said this afternoon that the wind and rain we are experiencing are the result of tropical storms which have traveled across the Atlantic. How ironic that we missed storms or hurricanes in Florida only to get them in Europe.

Tomorrow – Oslo, Norway [again]

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