It won't be long now......

We're on the downhill slope.........four weeks from today, I will start my journey westward.  About as far west as one can go.  I'll board a flight to LA at 0-dark-30; arriving well before lunchtime.  I've done so much research on my destinations; & pre-booked all of my shore excursions.  I hope I haven't become overly ambitious with my choices.  Some of my excursions are from 9 - 12 hours long.  A few are listed as moderately strenuous.  Please Lord, let there be others on those buses who have less stamina than I do.  I don't want to miss a thing.

There's still so much to do; & so little time..........


What's next???

Since my South American/Antarctic adventure ended in January, my daily routine can best be described as non-stop chaos. I can't remember at what point in time, my 'retirement' ended; & life became so........"crazy". One thing I know for sure, that sense of peace that enveloped my body while exploring that frozen wonderland, has long since left me.

There's only one cure for such insanity.........plan another cruise. Something to look forward to; something to live for; the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Maybe because I'm approaching another MAJOR milestone birthday (or the clock's slowly ticking down toward "Armageddon"), I'm throwing caution to the wind & going all out this winter. Thanks to an outstanding travel agent partner & a sweet deal through Crystal Cruises, I plan to indulge in a fantasy of sailing on the World Cruise. Well, at least a good part of it, anyway.

I've been extremely fortunate to have visited most of the ports on my 'bucket list'. Now, I will attempt to explore a few places that didn't quite make the 'official' bucket list. If only I had the time AND the money to do the full world cruise; I would love to find out just how long I could 'tolerate' being at sea. But for now 8 weeks will just have to do. Let the countdown begin...........

V2302F Enlarged Map


Buenos Aires, Argentina
January 7, 2011

Another unbelievably frustrating night of ‘cat naps’.  My room has a connecting door, which provides no sound buffer.  I could hear every word coming from my neighbor’s television until VERY late.  When I do finally get to sleep; I’m probably going to crash & burn!

I was awake before the alarm went off; showered & dressed.  Was downstairs at the buffet breakfast by .  I know it’s as scary for me as it is for you.  Remember how my trip started with an awesome breakfast surprise at the Marriott in Santiago (honey comb)?  Well, I was treated to something just as monumental this morning.  Dulce de leche; a huge bowl of it.  It looked like a dark, sticky, creamy peanut butter; so I had to ask what it was (it was so early, they didn’t even have labels on things yet).  I’d die for anything caramel!

I started with fruit, cheese & chorizo (sausages).  They had the absolute best, sweetest fresh squeezed OJ I’ve ever tasted.  I think I had 4 glasses.  I had some (almost done) scrambled eggs, bacon & link sausages.  I don’t think it’s my imagination; but in a country known for its beef, I found the pork pretty fascinating.  The bacon had very thin lines of fat, unlike what we see in the grocery store.  The sausages were mild & so juicy.  When I discovered the dulce de leche, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with it.  They had every kind of bread, muffin, & pastry imaginable.  Then I saw these tiny thin crepes (marked as pancakes); & I knew.  Spread caramel on that puppy; rolled it up.  It was like a trip to heaven!  I’m counting on this sugar high to see me through this unbelievably long day & night ahead.

Got a little more internet work done before I went down to check out at .  Our tour was to meet at in the lobby.  The hotel will watch over our luggage while we’re out for the morning.  We finally got underway a little after 9.  Diego (one of the HAL courtesy desk guys) acted as our guide.  Roberto was our driver; there were 17 of us on a small bus.

We started our drive through the financial district on July 9th Ave (sort of the main drag & said to be the widest avenue in the world).  We made a stop at Plaza de Mayo to walk a few blocks.

In the middle of the sq. is a huge statue of Artigas (Argentina’s liberator).  At one end of the square stands Casa Rosada (Pink House), the Presidential Palace where Juan & Eva Peron used to wave to the crowds from the 3rd floor balcony.

Next we walked to the other end of the square to visit the Metropolitana Cathedral.  The frescoes, decorative tiles & stained glass were beautiful; & inside is the tomb of General Jose de San Martin.

Back on the bus we proceeded to the southern section of the city known as San Telmo, known as the home of the tango.  Here you will find many legendary tango clubs; & bright murals of their native dance decorate walls & sides of buildings.  Parts of this area are obviously quite impoverished.

Next we made our way to the area known as La Boca (which means ‘the mouth’, as in the mouth of the Rio de Plata).  This is a very artsy area; & Caminito St. is where those colorful, tin houses are located…..the ones famous in all the postcards from B.A.

We got off the bus; & walked down this short street which is full of artists.  It’s like ‘eye candy’; & the beautiful blue sky & sunshine made the colors pop with vibrancy.  I thought I was in heaven (for the 2nd time today).

I was standing in front of the post office waiting for the bus to return; & I heard a voice say “do you know where I can take pictures of some food”?  I turned around; & there stood Lou, who was on her own tour in another bus.  She said she was quite happy at the Hilton; more so than I am with the Sheraton.  We got a quick photo with some local guy dressed in ‘tango’ attire; & said our goodbyes again.

We drove back through San Telmo, along the waterfront on our way to Recoleta in the northern section of town.  First we passed through the area known as Palermo, where Diego pointed out a large brick clock tower that was a gift from the English.  And then on to the United Nations Park to get a glimpse of ‘Floralis Generica’, a huge steel & aluminum flower sculpture (whose petals open during the day & close at night).

Then it was on to Recoleta, where the well to do live & play.  We parked the bus right on the main shopping boulevard which has every designer shop on the planet.  The next walk was to the cemetery to see Eva Peron’s grave.  By now it was over 90 degrees; & I wasn’t enthusiastic about the long walk.  One lady decided to stay on the bus because she had visited the grave the day before.  In her opinion, it wasn’t worth the trek.  So, I stayed too.

The bus driver left the engine running & the A/C on.  We spied an ice cream shop across the street; & the guide had just been talking about Argentina having the best ice cream.  And he recommended dulce de leche.  We decided we wanted some; but we couldn’t figure out how to get the door open on the bus.  The driver had gone into a café; & we were afraid to touch buttons (everything was written in Spanish or Portuguese or something)..  So, we waited & waited; until finally the driver saw us frantically waiving out the window.  He unlocked the door & we scooted over for 3 scoops of dulce de leche (I’m now in caramel heaven for the 3rd time today).  It was deliciously creamy & very rich.

When the other Pax finally returned from their walk, most agreed that it wasn’t worth the effort.  Eva’s in a cramped crypt; with barely enough room to stand back & take a photo.  I got to see photos that one man took; so that was enough to satisfy my curiosity.

We drove past the site where she had lived & died.  Though the house is gone; a lovely monument in her memory has been erected on the lawn.

We finally got back to the Sheraton close to .  I had no desire to walk around outside in the heat.  I wasn’t really hungry after that much ice cream.  So, there was nothing else to do except park in the hotel lobby & amuse myself.

I wanted to get to my medium size carry on bag that they were storing for me (the same one that got separated from me on bus #3 yesterday).  So, I asked my cute Argentinean “friend” at the hospitality desk if he would tell me where to look for it.  He asked for my claim checks; & he promised to find it for me.  I had accidentally put the electric converter in that bag; & I had no way to plug my laptop into a power source.  I would go crazy without that plug.

Within 5 mins. here comes ‘cutie’ with my bag.  My afternoon would be saved.  I asked “have I told you how much I love ya today?”  He said, “no; not since yesterday”.  I can’t believe I never got his name; but he is my hero.

For the next 4 hrs I passed the time on the computer; & made the acquaintance of Lois & Noel Castle from CT.  Noel was nice enough to ‘loan’ a photo of the Uruguayan asado (huge display of grilling meats) so that I could use it on my blog.


About , ‘cutie’ came over to tell us they were going to start the airport transfer a little early.  He asked everyone to wait until they actually saw their bags being loaded under the bus before boarding the bus.  When he rolled out a huge trolley of luggage, he told me I could go ahead & get on the bus because he recognized my 2 big suitcases; & assured me they were on the 1st trolley.  The luggage just kept coming & coming.  How they managed to fit all that in the belly of the bus, I’ll never know.

When they were finished, ‘Cutie’ gets on the bus to double check that everybody on his list is actually on the bus.  When he got down to the P’s, he said “Ms Palmer, my future wife”?.  “Present & accounted for”.  A few people on the bus knew what was going on; but everybody else just stared dumbfounded.

We ended up leaving the hotel later than anticipated; & then as fate would have it, the bus broke down on the expressway on the way to the airport.  We kept trying to ignore this beeping noise, not realizing it was a warning beep.  The driver finally pulls over on an exit ramp.  He gets out; takes a look; makes a call; comes back on the bus & hands the phone to another Passenger.  He didn’t speak English; & the HA people wanted to let everyone know that they were sending another bus in 10 mins.  Yea, right!

Everyone was beginning to get hot; & wanted off the bus.  I think the driver was worried that if we dispersed, he’d never round everybody up again.  A nearby Shell service station brought bottles of water & cups over.  And we’re all standing on the side of the road (during rush hour) wondering how long it’s going to take to reload that ton & a half of luggage.

About 15 mins later a mechanic pulls up in a van; & in short order, replaces a broken fan belt.  I shudder to think what would have happened if they had sent another bus.  As it was, I barely had enough time to get through the multiple security checkpoints, passport control & immigration control.  In retrospect, I should have gone to the airport with the first wave at (it would have been my choice).  It would have been a lot more peaceful & comfortable in the Amex Lounge than in the hotel’s lobby.  I hope I never have to leave from the Buenos Aires airport (EZE) again.  There’s no method to their madness……get out of one line, into another, into another.  And not once do they ask you to remove your shoes!

After days of little sleep & feeling puny, I was sooooo glad to be traveling business elite class.  If I had been in coach, I no doubt would have gone ‘postal’ halfway through the flight.  At least I was comfortable & well fed.  I started conversing with this nice young man next to me.  James, was born in KY; raised in Paraguay; & was now in college in GA.  He had been home for the holidays.  For the next 10 hrs we talked about everything southern (cooking, hospitality, accents, BBQ).

He didn’t even think I was weird because I took pictures of the food.  A flight attendant saw me with the camera out; & asked if we wanted her to take a picture of us.  I don’t know what she was thinking; but we both thought it was funny & said why not.

The food on this flight looked impressive on the menu & the plate; but the preparation fell short.  The appetizers were seared scallops on a bed of caramelized leeks & grilled vegetables & mozzarella.  The scallops were overdone & dry; but the leeks were delicious.  The veggies were tasty but they could have been a little less crisp.

There was a very good cup of carrot & ginger soup & a mixed green salad with feta cheese & a strange tasting creamy dressing of unknown origin.

I had a choice of filet of beef, pasta or chicken.  The chicken sounded delicious; roasted with balsamic onions & blue cheese sauce with sautéed garlic spinach & mashed potatoes.  Unfortunately, the chicken was overdone & tough on the outside; but the sauce was excellent.  The spinach & potatoes were also very good.  I passed on dessert of apple tart or ice cream sundae.

I had plugged the computer into the armrest’s electrical outlet, intending to work on photos.  But after an hr or so, I realized that the electrical plug wasn’t working; & the battery was dying.  I tried reading a while; but my eyes were tired.  I was trying so hard to not cough while everyone else was sleeping.  I finally put on my eye shades, bundled up in the blanket & turned on the IPod to white noise.  I think I slept for about an hr.

About they came through pushing breakfast.  It was done to perfection.  A bowl of fresh fruit, croissant with jam, smoked gouda cheese omelet topped with caramelized onions, bacon & potato pancake.

When we landed in ATL at , I realized that my legs & feet were swollen tight as a drum.  It was frigid cold walking up the jetway between the plane & the gate.  It had to be 20 degrees; & me in capris & flip flops.  I felt like a zombie waiting at the carousel for my luggage; & pushing one foot in front of the other trying to get through immigration, customs & recheck luggage.  I can’t remember ever feeling this unwell & still functioning in a public place (praying that I wouldn’t get light headed & faint).

I did have about an hour to relax & pull myself together in the Delta Sky Club Lounge.  I had some orange juice & advil; & began to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I buckled in for that last leg between Atlanta & Ft. Myers.  I actually fell asleep on the plane; but woke up as we were descending when my ears started to hurt & I realized I couldn’t hear squat.

Man, what a mess I was.  When neighbors, Monica & Dave came to pick me up, I told them I was going to go straight to bed.  I really should have checked on Josie & Caroline & gone down to welcome Carolyn back to town.  I wanted to; but I just couldn’t stay vertical any longer.  I told Monica if she saw any of the neighbors, to tell them I was down for the count; & would emerge as soon as I could.  I even put a sign on the front door, begging for an uninterrupted sleep period.

I believe I made the comment earlier that I would get to the point of exhaustion; & that I would probably crash & burn.  Well, I’ve been home 36 hrs now; & I’m still smoldering.  It was the most anticipated vacation of my lifetime; Antarctica, being at the top of my ‘bucket list’.  It was the most surreal; I could never have imagined such natural beauty.  And it certainly was one of the most active.  I’m not often speechless; but that’s what happens when someone asks me about this cruise.  The words, & even the photos, don’t do it justice.  Sick or not.....it was quite a ride!!!


Buenos Aires, Argentina
January 6, 2011

I did nothing but cat nap all night long.  How stupid was it to drink 3 glasses of ice tea with dinner?  I somehow thought that one ‘yellow tulip’ martini before bedtime would counteract all that caffeine.  NOT!!!

About 5:45 am I began to hear the normal whizzing & whirring sounds that announce a pending arrival into port.  Is it just my imagination or do these (final destination) noises somehow sound different from the ones you hear at a regular ‘port of call’?  I turned on the bridge camera to see that the sun was already up; & the skyline of B.A. was getting close.  So, I threw on Capri pants & the HAL bathrobe; grabbed the camera & ran out the ‘secret door’ for the final sail in of this voyage.

The air was cool; & the sun reflecting off the ultra modern high rise buildings was blinding.  A large tug was close behind us; & I could see off in the distance another large cruise ship also coming into port.  On the starboard side were acres & acres of cranes & shipping containers.  We were obviously heading for the commercial port area.

On the port side was ‘downtown’; it was a stunning sight.  A few people were up & around.  Some in various states of undress, like myself.  Went back in the cabin about 6:30; wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa & watched a replay of last night’s Laker’s game while I waited for my room service breakfast.  Had I known I would be up so early, I wouldn’t have requested it between 8:30-9.  I told my cabin steward that he was free to come in & start changing linens, etc. because I wouldn’t be in his way.

I left the cabin door open so I could hear Lee Ann & Bill when they left.  She came over to say goodbye.  She wasn’t able to sleep either; but she already dreading the long day at the airport & an overnight flight back home.  I’ll worry about all that tomorrow.

My breakfast came just before 8:30.  It was the usual eggs, hash browns, sausage links & OJ.  I hurried to vacate the room so the stewards could do their thing.  I got comfortable in one of the lounges; read & waited for my number to be called.  I could hear people out in the halls complaining about how disorganized the disembarkation was going.  One man said he had called 4 times to make sure he had a wheelchair on order for today.  Each time they assured him everything was in order; & yet there was no chair.  This man was livid.  It did seem more than just the usual chaos.  I think they called too many groups too close together; & it created a backlog.  My group (#24) was the last called at 10:25.  My luggage was going straight to the hotel; so I didn’t have to deal with that.

I proceeded to bus #3.  I handed one piece of my hand luggage to the driver to put under the bus.  When I got on the bus, there were no seats; three of us were told to go get on bus #4.  But the storage compartment was shut; & they said not to worry about my bag.  Worry #1.

We sat on bus #4 for about 45 mins. waiting for what, I don’t know.  We finally left the pier at 11:30.  After a short drive through this chaotic mess they call traffic in B.A., we were at the Sheraton Libertador.  I watched as bus #3 unloaded their people; & they picked up their bags.  My bus driver wouldn’t let me get off the bus until he was able to safely move up under the portico.  The hotel lobby was overflowing with HAL people going to the ship & coming from the ship; & every sq. foot of the lobby floor was packed with luggage.  I quickly found a HAL rep (A nice young man who spoke great English) to tell him about getting separated from my bag.  He said, don’t worry.  I stood in a check in line for about an hour; only to find out that my room wasn’t ready yet.  I asked if I could have a late check out tomorrow; no, they’re full.  Plan B, see if I could purchase a HAL tour to kill time tomorrow.  While I was standing in that line, the sweet HAL guy came up with my missing bag.  I asked him if anybody had told him that they loved him today.  He laughed; & said no.  So, I told him, I LOVED HIM TODAY.  Whew!

So, I was told to make myself comfy in the lobby; & they’d come & get me in 10-15 mins. when my room was ready.  Half an hour later, I could go downstairs & find my big bags in a holding room.  Thankfully, a lot of the luggage had already been claimed; but you still had to move a lot of luggage out of the way just to pull your own out.  And get this……there were no porters to help.  No carts to use; no nothing.  I had to stack & pull 4 bags up to my room on the 7th floor.  That would be after waiting for about 3 elevators; because you couldn’t fit more than 4 people & their luggage in each car.

I made it to my room (#710) about 2 pm.  Although nothing to compare to the Marriott in Santiago, it’s fine with a view of a brick wall & an air conditioner.  Oh, & they didn’t bother to tell us that there was construction going on up on the 11th floor.  They left a note on our desk to tell us what all the jack hammer & buzz saw noises were.

I was way past cranky, tired & getting hungry.  There’s a lot of activity on this street.  There is a huge galleria a block up; a few restaurants; a pharmacy & 4 banks across the street.  First order of business, find an ATM & get some Argentinean pesos.

The pedestrian traffic crossed the street when they wanted to; not when the light said it was safe to do so.  I snapped some photos along the way.  You got the impression that a tourist with a camera was alien.  I had people come up to me asking for money.  One was a man, pushing a stroller (no child in there) with a pitifully sad look on his face with his hand out.  I lost any desire to explore the neighborhood.  I felt like the city was going to swallow me whole.  I ducked into the first restaurant I saw to get some lunch.

I ended up at Puerto del Carmen, a little neighborhood pizza café/bar.  There were mostly men in there at 2:30. Some in pin stripe suits, talking on cell phones.  I swear a few of them look mafiasco-ish!  But the waitress was nice.  I pondered a long time; but decided on a ham & cheese pie (sort of like an overgrown empanada).  It was delicious.  And they had old fashion coca cola, the kind with real sugar,  in the tall glass bottles.  It was so good; I had to have 2 of them.

I decided to get a medium size pizza to take back for dinner.  Would you believe my total bill was about $27 USD?  I couldn’t.  Back to my room about 4; couldn’t stay awake any longer.  I turned my IPod on (white noise) to drown out the jack hammers; & fell asleep for 2 hrs.

I ate some pizza; worked on the photos & shuffled stuff in the suitcases again until 11.  It will be a very early morning; & I hope I can get some meaningful sleep.  Tomorrow will be an unmercifully long day.

When the 6 lanes of traffic would get backed up, people would pop up out of nowhere trying to sell popsicles & beer.  It was madness!


Montevideo, Uruguay
January 5, 2011

Even though the ship was rocking nicely; I didn’t sleep that well.  Maybe it was sharing the bed with a half packed suitcase or those 3 remaining towel animals that decided to stay forever.  I stayed on my side; & slept little.

I would have preferred to have room service breakfast this morning; but I didn’t have an order form.  It was late last night when I realized that; so I set the alarm (another reason not to sleep well).  My first look outside at Montevideo didn’t do a lot for me.  Even though you can see a very interesting city skyline beyond, the immediate port area is piled sky high with shipping containers & cranes.  It looked like it couldn’t decide whether to rain or not.  But it turned into a beautiful day, low 80’s; & a nice breeze as long as you stayed close to the water.

I went up to the Lido for breakfast about 8.  It was just a quick scrambled eggs, sausage, hash brown & juice fix to stave off hunger until after my morning tour.  It was very crowded inside; so I ate outside in the Retreat area.  My tour was to meet at in the showroom; but I wanted to stop by the reception desk to inquire about changing my gratuities.  They gave me the form to fill out if I wanted to ‘amend’ my tips.  But what I wanted to do was not easy to arrange.  So, I tried to explain to the purser that I wanted to take off tips to the D.R. waiters since I didn’t eat in D.R.  I wanted instead to reward the Lido stewards who had done an outstanding job serving my meals.  Even though someone there had told me a few days earlier that I could make this type of change, this person was telling me otherwise.

I’m not going into great detail about the back & forth of this.  But his answer was that I could add tips to go to Lido staff; but I couldn’t take away from the 35% allocation that was to go to the D.R. waiters (even though their records would show that I never ate in the D.R.)  There was this story about the D.R. waiters sometimes working in he Lido; & that that 35% portion of my tips was also to go to the cooks & other ‘behind the scenes’ food service staff.  No matter how flawed this system seems to me, there was no way I was going to win this one.

I took the Montevideo city highlights tour; bus #12 (pink) with Tamara as my guide & Jorge, the driver.  Both spoke very good English.  The bus was brand spanking new, even had leg rests; & an “Antarctic” A/C system.  I’m glad it was a morning tour; because it would have been much hotter getting on & off the bus in the afternoon.

My initial overall impression…….the place is booming with construction, there is way too much graffiti & litter on the streets.

And in some sections of town, you were as likely to see a fork lift or a horse drawn cart driving on the streets as you were cars.

There is a strong contrast in architecture in this huge city.  Some of the older art deco & baroque style buildings were beautiful (although, some, not that well maintained).

In contrast you would see some ultra modern buildings right next door.  Some were very colorful which caught my eye.

There was even one building that was part of a business complex (owned by an IT company) that resembled the Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai (the sails).  An adjoining building resembled the hull of a ship.

We drove through the old city area, then Independence Square & Constitution Square, down July 18 St. (their constitution day) to see the great shopping & museums there.

                                                    Independence Square

The city is full of sculptures & statues, of which they are very proud.  They’ve dedicated monuments to just about every historical person who ever landed here.

                                                  The Tree of Life & Time

La Carreta (The Carriage): An ode to the ox-cart drivers of the 19th Century by Jose Belloni

We visited areas of town where the well to do had their summer villas.

We passed several extremely wide beach communities that had mid rise condo looking buildings.  Tamara said they refer to these areas as “their” Copacabana Beaches.

We saw the old industrial areas where wool & rice used to be their livelihood.  She showed us areas where normal people live.  She showed us just about every side of life there is in Montevideo.

                                                        Parliament Building

IMO, the tour could have been 2 hrs. instead of 3; & some things should have been omitted.  We made 5 photo stops; 3 of which I felt were pointless (statues mostly).  I’m happy to say that I’ve been here; but I would never want to come back.

When we returned to the ship about , I took a few mins. to walk up the pier to look at the bow of the ship.  I wanted to photograph what appears to be damage that the hull sustained in the storms during the last cruise.  The Veendam certainly took a beating.

Once back onboard, I headed toward the Internet café to see Tony about my internet bonus mins.  He wasn’t at his desk, as he often isn’t during his posted hours.  So, I left him a long note with my questions.  Lou was working the crossword puzzle in the Library; so I sat & chatted with her a few mins.

Next stop, lunch in the Lido.  Didn’t see the usual Lido stewards; some of them must have had a few well deserved hrs off.  For my appetizer I chose some fruit, cheese, assorted smoked sausages & some grilled Mediterranean veggies.  I’ll say it again……whatever they marinate those vegetables in, I could drink that stuff.

My main course was from the Asian buffet (which has never disappointed me).  I had a bowl of Thai style rice noodles topped with ½ Vietnamese lamb (nice & spicy) & ½ cashew chicken with veggies.  The bread pudding was the ‘no sugar added’ type today.  I tried it; & it was very good.

I could ignore the packing no longer; so I started on the ‘hot weather’ suitcase.  My hope was to pack so that anything I needed the next 2 days would be right on top of this one suitcase.  Maybe it was the satisfying lunch or frustration over the task at hand; I decided to take a break.  Actually, take a nap.  Ninety mins. later, things were much clearer; & I pretty much finished.  I moved the suitcase over to the sofa; so the stewards could actually get in to perform their ‘turn down’ duties.

About 7, I went up to the Lido to have one last dinner with Lou.  Neither of us were even tempted to go to the D.R. for tonight’s “master chef” dinner (circus).  It’s usually at this point in the cruise where I become melancholy.  Sad to leave my new friends; & dreading going home.  But this voyage has been different.  The itinerary started off with a bang; & kept getting better & better.  After the Falklands, it was sort of anti-climactic.  Everyone felt it.  In fact, Lou said it would be fine with her if she had flown home today from Montevideo.  The Antarctic experience is just so overwhelming; that it sort of takes the wind out of your sails.

Sculpture dedicated to fallen sailors.  A sailor hangs on to his sinking ship guided by the north star.

I am sad to leave Lee Ann, Bill & (especially) Lou.  I’ve had some amazing conversation with them all.  Part of my readiness to leave the ship may be because the shipboard experience itself wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be.  It’s not what it was the last time I was onboard the Veendam, 12 yrs. ago.  She’s on her way “downhill”; & it’s very sad to see that happen to ANY ship.

Sorry, got off point there for a moment.  Back to the last “supper”…….something on the appetizer menu really excited me.  Baked brie in phyllo pastry; but there was none.  The one lone appetizer available, didn’t quite ‘speak’ to me.  But obviously the salmon & avocado got along quite well.

I started with a mixed salad & a cup of lobster bisque.

My main course was a few grilled lamb chops & a piece of nicely rare beef tenderloin.  With this I had some roasted potatoes & vegetables sautéed with garlic & lemon.

As we set sail the sun was starting to set; & the sky was flush with colors of orange & pink.  Lee Ann & Bill came to chat with us after they finished in the D.R.  Lou & I were just finishing dessert (fruit, cheese & mango chutney for me one last time).  Then it was time to say goodbye to the Lido guys & to each other.  I will miss SOME of these folks very much.

After dinner, I wanted to make one more sweep of deck 7 & 8.  Still had that free photo coupon, I hated to forfeit.  Even though it was free, there was none taken of me that I’d even want to claim (I did look kinda sickly through the whole thing, after all).  I didn’t realize that the set of videos that I ordered would be ready for pick up while we were still onboard.  I was under the impression that it would be mailed to us.  So, it was a fortunate coincidence that I even went into the photo gallery tonight.

I stuck my head in the logo shop.  Maybe it was guilty feelings for walking around with an ‘Oceania’ thermal glass all this time; but I broke down & bought one of the “dam” thermal mugs.  Who knows if or when I’ll be back on HAL to use it.

My last stop was Mix (the bar) for my much anticipated “Yellow Tulip”.  I saw this drink recipe in the Mariner Magazine  a few months ago; & it intrigued me because it had lychee juice in it (& y’all know I love lychee).  I hadn’t realized this is actually a martini recipe, although they don’t serve it in a martini glass.  Man, this is one fantastic “adult beverage”.  It was lightly sweet; went down smooth & pretty fast.  Good thing I didn’t discover how good this was in the beginning.  I might have spent as much at the bars as I did on the internet bill!

I was back in the cabin by 10.  Put a few last min. things in the suitcases; & put them out in the hallway for pick up during the night. I did a little work on the computer; & sent a few e-mails with my last 12 mins. of internet time.

I’m very tired.  It would have been nice if there had been one last night of rolling seas; but we’re still sailing in this very shallow bay & lake system.  Montevideo is on the eastern shore of the Rio de la Plata; B.A. is on the western side.  Basically, we’re just idling until morning.  I’ve got the alarm set for (that’s the kiss of death already).  No TV or reading in bed tonight; I just want to sleep.

I missed the thrill of the food court & the luscious smells of cooking meat.  Thanks to my new friends, Noel & Lois Castle (Gaylordsville, CT) who supplied me with this photo of what I could have had to eat.