Tag Archives: roundabout

Scotland Travel Day: Days 0 and 1, July 31-August 1, 2022

Sunday, July 31, 2022 was an early day since I was playing with my Recorder Consort at church. Since it’s the summer, we hadn’t practiced for quite a while, so we got together quite early to decide what to play and to put it all together. In the end, we played offertory, final hymn and postlude.

After church, we came home and I took a nap while Tom packed. Finally, I decided I should pack – something warm and waterproof.

My mom noticed a flurry of activity and asked what we were doing. She claimed she didn’t know we were going to Scotland. I guess at almost-99, she can claim a bit of memory loss. I reassured her that we had someone checking on her and bringing in the mail, that there was enough food, jigsaw puzzles and Tivo shows to carry her through the week.

Finally, all the sweatshirts, fleece-lined jeans and such were packed and the Uber called. Dulles Airport wasn’t too crowded, at least the Icelandair area so we were on our way fairly easily.

I had gone back and forth about taking my growth hormone with me – it’s always an issue with travel. This time I had bought a new thing that had a USB-cable to keep the HGH cold. I actually used it with an external powerpack when our power went out last month and it worked well.

  • ✔️ [Innovative Medical cooler] –>This new 4ALLFAMILY medical cooler is masterfully designed to keep your expensive supplies SAFE. The new USB lid can deliver an outstanding maximum temperature drop of 50 Fahrenheit compared with outside temperature.
  • ✔️[ANTI FREEZE SECURITY]–>You CANNOT RISK FREEZING YOUR MEDICATION. The 4ALLFAMILY Cooler is built with some high tech features that allow it to safely detect temperature fluctuations, and thanks to the auto shut off / on option, it automatically adjust the power so internal temperature stays in 36-45F range all the time.
  • ✔️[TEMPERATURE DISPLAY]–>Not only does the cooler works in silence to maintain the safe range, but also it is equipped with a display that shows the inner temperature in real time.
  • ✔️[ High Capacity]–>Performance is not the only aspect this cooler shines. The inner tube has a large refrigerated space that has enough capacity to fit 7 insulin pens and other medications as well.
  • ✔️[ Ensures a safe experience transporting medications]–>4ALLFAMILY COOLER is so practical and easy to use for long trips. It`s usb feature can be used in cars, planes, trains, car lighters, and powerbanks.

In the end, I decided not to take the HGH/cooler because I’ve had issues with security before and I wasn’t sure that there would be a USB port on the planes This turned out to be a good idea (see later).

After gathering all our stuff post-security, we found our gate. They started boarding the plane from the back (except, of course, for the small children and the people who had paid extra for “Saga class” aka business class). I had paid extra for more legroom, which was between steerage and the Saga people so we were almost last boarding. We were across from the restroom so there was a lot of activity nearby.

It turned out that these seats have the tv and tray built into the armrest and they were very hard to access. Tom tried the tv but couldn’t get it to be stable so he gave up – I didn’t even bother. I had also paid extra for 3-course hot meals. When they came, I found that my tray table, which folded in half, didn’t stay open so I was balancing it on my knee, not unlike a banjo. The meal wasn’t bad – lasagna, some kind of thing with cheese balls and fish(?) and tiramisu.

I was very cold and used 2 blankets – I had bought an interesting thing from amazon but, of course, it was in the suitcase above my head and too hard to get out.

Eventually, we got to Iceland and immediately got in line for the next flight. It turned out the line was actually for a bus to the next flight. We had to climb quite a few stairs, hauling our carry on luggage. I found our row and, of course, there was a woman sitting in the aisle seat. She asked me if I wanted her to move.

We got in our seats and actually had tvs and tray tables that worked. But no meal.

Leaving Reykjavik, Iceland:

Arriving in Glasgow, Scotland:

At Glasgow airport we found our luggage fairly easily and off to find the car rental place. Even though the website said it was “in the airport terminal”, that was kind of sketchy.

I had assumed being in the airport terminal meant it was inside the building but no! We walked outside (with our luggage, of course), then under a covered walkway to another building that housed some car rental places. Of course, ours was closed that day. So we walked further to a little outside shack-type structure where there was a person who held the key to our car. YAY

Because this is Scotland, the car was quite small – we got my medium size suitcase in the boot (trunk) and the rest in the back seat. A tight fit but we made it work.

Because this is Scotland, the car was a 5-speed manual transmission – and you drive on the left side. The roundabouts go around to the left. After a few false starts, we were out of the airport and on our way.

Our hotel had given us directions which read “Join M8 motorway heading east following signs for Edinburgh. On the outskirts of Edinburgh follow signs for Leith and Ocean Terminal. Hotel is situated opposite Ocean Terminal.”

That was a little bit optimistic. See the little circles on the map? Those are roundabouts where it was possible to take the wrong exit (while going the wrong way).

When we got to the roundabout in front of our hotel, the road was torn up for construction. We finally pulled into the Holiday Inn Express Waterfront. Hooray!

ASIDE: I am surprised that I didn’t write about this before but I guess that I was so angry that I couldn’t put it into words. Last time we were in Scotland we had arrived tired/exhausted/in a rental car driving on the left to an Edinburgh Airbnb only to find it locked with no one to let us in. We called the owner and he said “sorry, I changed my mind” or something to that effect. We found a nearby restaurant (with a bathroom!) and got something to eat – and started making calls to Airbnb. They couldn’t/wouldn’t help us. Not their problem. No refunds. The restaurant people told us there was a nearby hotel that might have openings. And they did. Because it was August – Tattoo and Fringe Festival month, the offerings were very limited but the Holiday Inn Express Waterfront gave us a place to stay for the night and I’ve been grateful ever since, which is why I chose them again. That, and they actually had parking. In 2015 we had been at a hotel with mostly on-street parking – and expensive parking tickets.

Back to the story: We got checked in and hauled our luggage up to the room only to find that there were no drawers or bureaus. Weird. Luckily, I pack in packing cubes so I was able to keep those intact on a shelf. When we had been here before there was no room for our luggage at all and it had to go to a luggage room. There had also been one door which closed either the bathroom OR the closet, which was weird. But we had a closet. Trade Offs! I was much happier with this year’s room, even if they had started charging for parking. The whole week’s parking was still cheaper than the ticket we got in 2015.

After a much needed nap, we had dinner at the hotel. When we left, we found that the lights go off automatically if there’s no key in a slot by the door – just like a cruise ship, but you couldn’t use any old key-shaped card. It had to be a room key. So, my growth hormone container would have stopped cooling every time we left the room – a good thing I didn’t bring it after all.

The hotel has a small range of dinner options. I had the bacon cheeseburger without the bacon or cheese. Tom had the cottage pie with “mixed green vegetables” which turned out to be peas. I guess they were mixed when put on the plate.

After dinner, I was flipping through the channels when we came across a show called Naked Attraction. This being a non-US show, it involved really naked people. Really. REALLY.

From that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia: “Naked Attraction is a British television dating game show, broadcast on Channel 4. A clothed person is faced with six naked people who are initially hidden in booths. Their bodies and faces are gradually revealed through successive rounds, from the feet up. At each round, the chooser eliminates one naked person until only two are left, when the chooser also takes off their clothes to make the final choice. The chooser then decides which person they wish to go out with, and the two (or, occasionally, three) then go for a fully clothed date. The programme then presents their feedback after the date. It premiered on 25 July 2016 and is presented by Anna Richardson.

Numerous complaints about the programme were made by viewers to the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom due to the full-frontal nudity that is featured in the programme. Ofcom chose not to investigate as there was nothing that breached their rules: the show was purely a dating show and did not contain any sexual activity, and was shown after the watershed.”

Scrolling through tv and seeing 4 naked men (we got to the show late) was quite an eye opener. When the ones weren’t chosen walked away, the cameras focused on the <ahem> rear view.

Youtube has some samples which have been carefully edited to meet Google standards.

And so ended Day 1.

Aruba, March 7 ~ Panama Canal Cruise

The description:

Friday, March 7

8:00 AM-7:00 PM

Dutch influence still lingers on this balmy Caribbean island, part of the former Netherlands Antilles until its independence in 1986. Aruba is a contrast: the island’s arid interior is dotted with cactus and windswept divi-divi trees while secluded coves and sandy beaches make up its coast. Aruba’s long and colorful heritage is reflected in its dialect. Called Papiamento, it is a tongue that combines elements of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, African and English.

Our Tour:

aruba

Semi-Submarine, Shipwreck & Island Drive

Your tour begins when you board the ferry “Stingray” at Palm Pier, on one of Aruba’s best beaches. After a 20-minute transfer, you’ll board the semi-sub. This is a surface vessel where you sit five feet below the waterline, the perfect way to discover the fascinating sea life that lives in these crystal clear Caribbean waters. The semi-sub will head towards the wreck of the “Antilla,” a German freighter that was sunk off the coast of Aruba during World War II. The tour is narrated and you will learn about how this 440-foot-long freighter met its watery end. You will also be able to view coral and the plentiful sea life, before returning to dry land. Here you will board your air-conditioned transportation for the short yet scenic journey to the California Lighthouse for views of Aruba’s windward coast.

The lighthouse is named after the U.S. ship which sunk in 1893, years before the lighthouse was built. Your captivating day then continues as you drive to the Casibari rock formations, where you will have time to browse the gift shop and view the amazing landscape formed by diorite boulders the size of small houses. Energetic guests may wish to climb the 80 rustic steps to the formation’s summit for stunning views of the island. Finally, it’s time to head to Aruba’s rugged north coast, to view the breath-taking Baby Natural Bridge, carved by the surf from solid coral and limestone. You will also be able to view the collapsed original Natural Bridge, and visit the gift shop here. Your route back to the ship takes you past the fascinating ruins of a 19th-century gold mill at Boca Mahos, and at the end of the tour, you will have the option to independently explore Aruba’s capital city Oranjestad. You will then be responsible for your return to the ship, which is a mere five minute walk away.


Our day:

Aruba, 8:00am–6:00pm

Weather Forecast:  Mostly Sunny High 82 / Low 79

Sunrise 6:52 am / Sunset 6:50 pm

From the Navigator:  Overnight Coral Princess maintained a southeasterly course and this morning we will make our final approach to Aruba.  A local pilot will assist in navigating the vessel to our berth in the capital city of Oranjestad.  This afternoon, with all the passengers onboard, we will let go our lines and maneuver out of the harbor, before altering course to starboard and setting westerly courses toward our next port of call, Cartagena.

When we woke up, we could see that we were approaching port.  I watched the process from the balcony, then we went down to deck 7 (Fiesta) to wait in line for disembarkation.

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Arriving at Aruba

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Of course, I checked in at Foursquare 🙂

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Container ships on the dock. In the distance, near the crane, is the Hooiberg volcano.

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The Freewinds often hosts local functions in the ports it frequents, such as jazz concerts and movie performances in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. These events are usually free but often support island charities through entrance fees or suggested donations.[21] Local artists are often showcased. It also caters to different international conferences and events. The ship’s leisure facilities include a restaurant, lounge, cabaret, swimming pool, movie theater and beauty salon.

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More containers

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Arriving at Aruba

Off the ship, we went through the terminal and met our bus.  Turned out, Rosie and Jim were on the same tour.

We rode in the bus for a while as our tour guide mentioned some Aruba facts and showed us some points of interest.  One of the most interesting and pertinent facts for me was that all restrooms on Aruba cost $.50 to use except the Natural Bridge, which was $1.00.  Yuck!

One of the first things we saw was a roundabout with a McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast food.  I also saw a store called Rat Land which I hope means something in Dutch than in English.

rat-land

Their license plates say “One Happy Island” but people are more happy when it rains.  They get very little rain there.  The island is very desert-like with lots of cacti, like we saw in Phoenix, AZ.

Our first stop was the California Light House.  There were some mini-Stonehenge rocks there.  We couldn’t go in.  This lighthouse was named for the steamship California, which wrecked nearby on September 23, 1891. It was formerly open to the public until a suicide occurred, which prompted authorities to restrict public access to the lighthouse.

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California Lighthouse

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At the California Lighthouse, looking at the sea

In Aruba, they make piles of rocks, similar to those we saw in Iceland.  In Aruba, tourists stack them up and make a wish on each rock they add to the pile.

rockpiles

Back on the bus, we went to DePalma beach.  That was down a path next to the Riu hotel.  All beaches here, like Barbados, are public.  The Riu had a “garden” of big rocks, surrounded by hedges and flowers, complete with a gardner tending these rocks.

Lots of activity there like wind surfing, parasailing, etc.  We walked past the little shops (they had Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins!) and got on a flat-topped ferry boat for our semi-submersible.

The semi-submersible didn’t submerge at all.  The only “submersing” it did was when we walked down the stairs to take our seats by the portholes.  In some of the photos below, you can see the bottom of our craft on the top of the water.

Even their own website says that they do not submerge at all:

The Seaworld Explorer Semi-Submarine is a state-of-the-art semi-submarine developed in Australia for use on the Great Barrier Reef. This unique vessel does not submerge. You step down into the hull of this cruising underwater observatory and sit in air-conditioned comfort just 5 feet below the water’s surface, viewing amazing Aruba sea life through large clear glass windows.

They should call in non-submersible instead.  There must not have been a reef or anything because all we did was circle the shipwreck, the Antilla.

I was a bit upset by all the divers’ bubbles coming from underneath us.  That couldn’t have been safe for them to be diving under a boat, whether it submerged or not.

Whatever.

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Ferry “Stingray”

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Shipwreck of the Antilla. You can see a diver’s fin in the top of this picture.

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Shipwreck of the Antilla. The jellyfish-looking thing in the upper right is air bubbles from a diver.

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Shipwreck of the Antilla.

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Shipwreck of the Antilla.

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Sergeant major fish

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More divers’ air bubbles

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The bottom of our boat at the top of this picture.

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The bottom of our boat at the top of this picture.

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From there, we drove to the Natural Bridge past Arashi Beach.

The Aruba Natural Bridge was a tourist attraction that was formed naturally out of coral limestone. The landmark collapsed on September 2, 2005.  We saw the newer Natural “Baby” Arch at the northeast shore of Aruba at the same site.

I thought I had a video of this arch but it might be on my other camera.  If/when I find it, I’ll put it here.  🙂

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Natural Bridge area

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New or baby Natural Bridge

Everything where we were seemed so dry, so there was a lot of cactus.  We also saw some brown doves (close relative of the North American Mourning Dove) and egrets (a type of heron).

egret

The guide said that many of the beaches were made of coral.  They have a volcano on Aruba called Hooiberg, a Dutch word meaning Haystack.  It is actually a dormant volcano located close to the center of the island. The island of Aruba was formed as a result of volcanic activity.

Off to the Casibari rock formations.  Geologists are uncertain about their origins, but think that a collision of the teutonic plates forced the massive slabs to the surface. The limestone steps surrounding them are signs of the changing water levels of the Caribbean throughout the ages.

Aruba is made of lava quartz diorite and limestone.  There is also granite but it’s protected.

 

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Tom under one of the Casibari rock formations

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Casibari Rock Formations

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Casibari Rock Formations

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Casibari Rock Formations

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Arashi Beach

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A little lizard on the rocks.

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We didn’t get to see the gold mill or downtown Oranjestad but we were happy to head back to the ship.  I was surprised and pleased when the crew gave us cold water and cold towels.

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Oranjestad from our ship balcony.

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Back on board, we took a little nap, went to the library saw the singers and dancers do a show called Motor City, another excellent show.

After dinner in the buffet, we went to the Princess Theater to see Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

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