Norwegian Breakaway Pool Areas

Note to self!  From http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=189

Which Ships: Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway

Sun Deck: Sun decks on Norwegian’s Epic, Breakaway and Getaway begin with the typical pair of pools, surrounded by fountains and an ocean of loungers, but it doesn’t end there. Little ones have their own place to frolic in the Splash and Play Zone, a shaded oasis of fountains, wading pools and animal sculptures (SpongeBob-themed ones on Breakaway and Getaway). This kiddie area is tucked under the waterslides of Epic’s mammoth Aqua Park. The main attraction here is the Epic Plunge, in which tube-riders zip into a giant funnel before dropping through a 200-foot-long chute into a pool below. On Breakaway and Getaway, passengers will also find ropes courses (complete with planks that jut out over the sides of the ships) next to the waterslides, one deck up.

For a quieter retreat, head to Spice H2O, a tiered, stage-like space that serves as an adults-only pool during the day, complete with the huge outdoor LED screen that’s becoming a staple of cruise ship sun decks these days. Another peaceful spot is the nearly hidden, unfrequented sun deck aft on Deck 18.

Distinctions: Staff are on hand to bring sunbathers chilled towels and spritz them with Evian water on hot days. In addition, you’ll no longer be harassed by waiters hawking drinks; if you’re thirsty, put the flag on your lounger up, and someone will come over to take your order. But the real VIPs are the ones who can afford a pricey Owner’s Suite, Penthouse or Villa, all of which allow access to the semiprivate Villas sun deck with pool, whirlpools and comfy sun loungers.

Poolside Dining: The Grill offers limited breakfast items and typical grilled lunch items, such as hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, as well as salad and dessert.

 

2015

So far this year its been mostly work, snow, ice, work…

I did get to go to a Rare Disease Conference at the NIH last month.  That was just a day trip but it was a good one.  I always like going back to NIH.  I spent so much time there when I was being diagnosed with Cushing’s and post-op that it feels like a second home to me.

We had lunch in the real cafeteria – more memories.  When I was an inpatient, my DH and young son would come visit most nights and we’d have a late dinner there.

Last November 30, my son and I got to play a 2-piano duo in the Steinway Hall Rotunda in NYC.  As it turned out, we were the last ever people to play there before they moved to a new location in Manhattan.

 

Steinway Hall, November 30, 2014

 

Here’s a brief video of him playing his solo and one of us playing 2-pianos:

 

 

 

We are currently getting ready to play a duet (1 piano) at the temporary location for Steinway in early June, 2015 …the same day we leave on a cruise to Bermuda.  Talk about a tight schedule!

After the November recital, we went to see the Intrepid in NY Harbor.  Across the water, a couple berths over I saw a cruise ship departing.  I didn’t know/didn’t care where they were going but I found out.

For Christmas, everyone’s gift was a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway to Bermuda.  More on that later.

Also, this summer will be a trip to Scotland to see and hear the Edinburgh Tattoo.  This has been on my bucket list for a long time.  My grandfather was in the Black Watch and I just love to hear bagpipes. Even my cellphone ringtone is Scotland, the Brave.

A bit more about him here.

This weekend is a Handbell Festival in Maryland – kind of exciting, too :)

MaryOColorfulButterfly

 

9/11 – We Remember

I originally wrote this on 9/11/01…

I, too, was stunned to hear the news this morning and continuing throughout the day.

It was just something unbelievable.  My husband and I were on a Land Rover 4X4 tour of the off-road areas of Barbados when we first got the news.

At first, when we got the very first news, around 9:30 am, I thought that it was some tale that the driver was weaving…and that there would be a punchline.  As the day wore on, more interest was on the radio than on the tour.  Some of the people in our Land Rover were from New York City and they were terrified for friends and family.

What an awful day in history this is, one of those that we’ll always remember where we were when we got the news.

Like the rest of you, I am stunned, absolutely shocked that this could happen, using our own planes, no less.  I cannot imagine the terror of the people on those planes, or in the World Trade Center…or the Pentagon.

The rest of the story:
The year of 911 my mom and my son had been with us for the first week. My son had to be back at college so on Sunday he shepherded my mom through the airport, customs and all and got her back home before he headed back to UMass/Amherst on Monday. Thank goodness they got back before the mayhem started!

On Tuesday we were out on a 4X4 from Island Safari with our favorite guide, Zario. Zario is a fun guy and and very knowledgeable about Barbados and world events. We were very happy to have him again because it was the “luck of the draw” which driver/guide we got.

I remember that morning being kind of stressed already – I was having trouble with one of my contacts and I was just grumpy.

Zario picked us up first, one of the benefits of staying at The Crane – everyone picks us first for everything and drops us off last. Then he picked up another couple from New York City who were staying at Bougainvillea.

The tour started off through the fields, down cliffs as usual. Zario had the radio on in the background. When we got to the first stop he told us that there was a “problem” in New York. That it seemed that a plane had hit a building. We thought that there was going to be a punch line somewhere. There wasn’t.

As the tour went on, the news got worse. The couple from NYC was very worried about relatives.

By the time we got to lunch and met up with the other 4x4s everyone had heard. We were in a little chattal house restaurant, the TV was on CNN and everyone was just watching in silence and horror. Usually this lunch is very festive and fun. Not a care in the world. Not today.

We left the New York people off at their hotel and went “home”. The TV was full of New York news, then Pentagon news. We know people who work at the Pentagon. The news just got worse as we went along.

We were basically stuck in Barbados.  Phones to the US didn’t work well, email was slow to non-existent, all we knew was what we got on CNN, incessantly.  My mother and son had been with us the week before and had just flown back the Saturday before.  I was so glad that they had gotten back home ok, then my son off to college.

We were supposed to fly home on the next Saturday, but if was iffy if that would happen since the airports were closed for the longest time.  We were flying into the DC area. The phone lines to the Barbados airport and to American Airlines were always busy.

Finally, we decided to give it a shot, packed up and went to the airport to see if we could fly out or not.  They could only guarantee the flight as far as Puerto Rico.

The San Juan airport was crowded with Americans trying to get home, flights being canceled due to closed airports, people sleeping all around the airport, using backpacks for pillows.  It was a very difficult time.

We did finally leave for home later that night.  This is what I wrote the next day…

I flew on American Airlines last night (9/14/2001).  We left Barbados on time but the connecting flight, originating out of Aruba was very late, and we waited for a long time in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After that flight had arrived though, we were all sitting around, hoping they’d board the plane soon.  All of a sudden, there was cheering in the hallway.  We turned to look – our pilot and crew were marching up the hallway with a huge American flag.  He stopped and talked to us.  He explained that the copilot would hang that flag outside his window as we taxied out of Puerto Rico and into Dulles.  The flag was making the rounds of American flights all over the country and that the yellow streamers hanging down were being signed by all the American crew members.  He posed for lots of pictures (I have some I’ll post later, when my eyes are less bleary!), then, as they were going to get the plane ready, he asked us in a loud voice if we were ready to fly to Washington and everyone cheered.

Along the way, he thanked us so much for having faith and flying (like we had any choice!).  The headphones for the movie and the drinks were all free on this flight!  He also told us that there were a lot of fighter planes in the Washington to NY corridor and not to be surprised if we were intercepted by one, who would just be making sure that we were “who we said we were”.  I thought that would be kind of neat to see, but I didn’t see them.  We arrived in Dulles (Washington, DC) with a jet fighter escort.  At the time, that sounded so comforting, but it turned out that they had been there to shoot us down, if we’d made any funny moves.

Then, when we arrived at the terminal, the captain said that we were back in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and got some more cheers.

It was a memorable flight for someone like me, who is terrified of flying under the best of circumstances.

 

Us, on 9/10. Who knew?

9/14, San Juan Puerto Rico:
After the crew marched down the hallway.

 

The captain, letting others have a chance to fly the flag.

This young woman lead us onto the plane.

MaryOUSAheart

Costa Rica, Day Eleven: August 25, 2014

A double cortisone kind of day.  Cushies will understand!

The cleaning staff come here on Sunday and Wednesday.  They also came here on Friday because they thought we were leaving.  Wrong!  Each time they leave, we can’t find something or other.  They aren’t stealing, they’re just moving things to unexpected places.

Today, Tom couldn’t find the blister-pack pellets for his inhaler.  After looking everywhere, we concluded that maybe he’d used them all.

When I was putting in my contact lens, I noticed his bag of cough drops and – low and behold – they were in there!  Go figure!

After that, we set out to find an ATM to get the rest of the deposit for the tour company.  We found the BAC Bank near the Alto Mercado.  My debit card couldn’t be read.  Maybe the magnetic strip is gone.  Whatever.

We went into the bank and waited in a long line, which about tripled while we were in it.  I got to the window and gave the teller my card and passport – he said I had to go to the ATM, it was a cheaper rate.  I said I was willing to pay the higher fee, I just wanted the money.

The teller found someone else who went out with me and confirmed that the card wouldn’t work.  I also had a Discovercard which didn’t work since I forgot to tell them I was going out of the country.

Tom had left his walled back at the apartment :(

I had checks on the first bank and asked if I could cash one with the card and passport.  She said sure but we would have to wait in the longer line again.

Bye, bye!

Tom brought me home and he went back with another CC and got cash, no problem. He took it to the tour place and got receipt.

vision-catamaranAbout 1:30, we went back into town and met up with the tour guy who walked us over to where the boat would pick us up.  We saw a motorboat called La Orca, which I thought would be our pickup since it was circling around.

Another guy came over to collected the rest of the money and said it had to be cash.  Luckily, we had the tour guy (David) with us who confirmed that it was supposed to be credit card.

Guy 2 says, no problem, he’ll get his credit card machine working for when we get back.  Whatever.

This boat, we only had to wade into the water a little before jumping onto the Vision.  Not nearly as muddy as the trip to the rubber dinghy would have been Sunday.

The boat ride in La Orca was pretty good and we reached the Vision fairly quickly.  The transfer from La Orca to the Vision was kind of dicey, though.  I had to sit on the side of La Orca, swing my legs around to get into a smaller boat with plastic seats that was attached by rope to the Vision, then walk across the smaller boat, climb on a seat, then up the rear stair (no handrail) of the Vision.

Amazingly, I did that!

We seemed to be the only people on the boat until we realized there were folks on the roof part.  They offered us lots of fruity drinks, both alcoholic and non.  Later, I would be very glad to have gone with the non.

Later, while the crew was fixing a nice lunch, people went snorkeling or swimming with noodles over by a small beach in the Papagayo Gulf.   Tom went in but I decided it looked too far to come back and the current was kind of strong.  I watched Tom in the water and, for some reason, he decided to come right out.

After I saw him get out, I sat down in my seat.  Next thing I knew, my neck was in major pain.  Tom took one look and could see a stinger stuck in my neck, about 1/8 of an inch long and curved like a talon.  He managed to get that our fairly quickly.  He put on cortisone cream and Neosporin.  I took an extra cortisone pill and allergy medicine.

My neck got a bit red and swollen and, in a little bit, one of the crew came over and we explained what happened.  He washed off all the stuff Tom had put on and put on something else – a 10% solution of something brown and said it would feel better in 20 minutes or so.

After that, we had some of the wonderful food they had been making.  My neck still hurt to turn to the left but it seemed to be ok.

We saw a really nice sunset, then it was time to head back.  La Orca came for all the “upstairs people”, they we sailed a bit more and it came for us.

The transfer back was awful.  It was dark.  Those stairs down the back of the catamaran have no railings, no wired, nothing to hold on to…and they were slippery.

I eventually got down there and into the middle boat.  I had to stand on a plastic seat to sit on the side of the third boat.  As soon as I put my foot on that seat, my foot slide out from under me and my left knee hit the railing of the third boat and my right hit the seat on the second boat.  OWEEE!

La Orca got us back close to shore and the crew member joked that he would swim to shore with me on his back.  Not amused!  We got fairly close to shore, I got off and walked to the beach.

The guy who we owed money for this trip was not there so we have to track him down somehow else.  There was a group of homeless people and one woman came begging for money.  Tom gave her a small amount and she said she’d pray for him (or someone).

When we were coming back, there was a man by the side of the road with a motorcycle on his leg.  Tom asked if he was hurt and he said “Yes” so we agreed to send help.  No way were we going to get caught in some kind of ambush.  We tried to tell the security guard here what we had seen but he spoke no English. Finally, reinforcements came and people went to help the man, if he was still there.

When we got back, I looked up flying insects in Costa Rica that met the description of the stinger that Tom had removed and came up with African (or Africanized) Killer Bees.  It occurred to me thats/he was attracted to my orange shirt and the scent of my sunscreen.  Maybe, I made him angry that I wasn’t a flower.  Whatever!

From my search: http://www.cupotico.com/info/General/Insects_Costa_Rica.html

African (killer) bees arrived in Costa Rica in 1982, and you would do well to assume that all bee colonies are now Africanized. Keep your distance from hives or swarms. The stings of Africanized bees are no more venomous than those of your garden-variety bee, but these insects are aggressive and attack with less provocation. The cumulative effect of many bee stings is dangerous. If you’re attacked, move in a zigzag motion; you can probably outrun them. Head for water if any is nearby, and cover your head. If someone with you is attacked and cannot move, cover both of you with something light in color and get the person to safety. Remove stingers with a knife or fingernails, being careful not to squeeze more of the stinger’s venom into the bite. Apply ice or cold water, and, if badly bitten, see a doctor.

Early to bed – our bus picks us up tomorrow morning at 5:00 am to go to Nicaragua.

Costa Rica, Day Ten: August 24, 2014

Stressful day, for me, anyway.

The signs that the elevator is broken are gone but were not taking a chance, so we walked up the stairs just before 8:00am.

2014-08-24 07.59.56
There were more landslides overnight during that thunderstorm.

 

We went looking for the snorkel place where we were supposed to be at 8:15 –  and rode around for 30 minutes. We had “directions” and a “map” but we still couldn’t find a restaurant called “Gloria and Claudio” where we were supposed to meet.

Tom asked in two other restaurants.  It turns out that we weren’t told we were supposed to part on the street and walk up the boardwalk to find Gloria and company.

Finally, at 8:45, we were walking up the boardwalk and someone approached us and asked if we were O’Connors – right place!

She complained that we were keeping everyone else waiting and said to take off our shoes.  We started wading through the low-tide mud and surf towards a rubber dinghy that was to take us to the snorkel boat. Tom said NO and we left.  The person who met us was astounded that we wouldn’t do that. Fortunately, we had our car there so we weren’t stranded.

In our driving, we had seen a tour place. We went there to sign up for a tour to Nicaragua. We’re not using the tour place here anymore. We signed up for 3 things and got discounts on all, more than what we lost on today’s trip.  The guy wanted $150 US in cash as a deposit.  The rest could be paid by credit card on the actual trips.  We only had $60 between us so we owe him $90 on Monday at the first trip.  Watch for Monday’s post!

Upcoming tours: Monday, a different snorkel trip; Tuesday, Nicaragua;  Wednesday, break!; Thursday Monteverde; Friday, NYC; Saturday home

Tom got our money back – grudgingly – for today’s trip – I don’t know how he does that.

At 4:00 we were supposed to do a presentation.  Over the years, we have done several timeshare presentations. AARRGGHH! It was supposed to be 90 minutes. It turned into 4 hours. We told them we weren’t going to buy but they kept pushing and pushing.

They said they weren’t selling timeshares, they are selling vacations.

 

It started with lunch/dinner here and the first guy. In passing, he asked about our place here and we mentioned the front light and elevator.  He called someone called “Dan” and said he didn’t want something like this interfering with “his sale”.

Then, he took us to Ocotal to see some of the rooms and we talked to another guy.

There were scammy-sounding schemes where we gave them some of our existing timeshares and a pile of money and we would live happily ever after, vacationing all over.  We had no way of leaving because we were in the middle of nowhere with no car.

They had some units built and they were building 40 more (construction noise OR an untruth).

Tom gave the second guy suggestions on quitting smoking and agreed to be a contact on LinkedIn.

Finally, they got the message that we would not buy today no matter what and took us back to Coco Bay.

On the way, guy number one asked if our light was fixed, could he make “his sale”.  NONONO!  English is even his first language.  We kept getting big hints that if they didn’t sell 10 of these in some amount of time, he would be fired.  Yada Yada, violins in the background.

We got back here and there was a third person for “another company” trying to get some of our money.  Apparently the first 2 people had included his “services” in their presentation and he was there seeing if he could salvage anything out of this non-deal.

Finally back up the mountain, down the 4 flights of stairs and our light was fixed.  One good thing out of four wasted hours.