Sunday, February 24, 2013

Epic Journey

Well hello! It's been a while, longer than anticipated that's for sure. It's a long story.
First off let me say for the first time in 3 years I missed Groundhog Day and you all know how much I enjoy that event. It seems this year Punxsutawney Phil, Wiarton Willie & Shubenacadie Sam were at odds with each other, Phil and Albino Willie predicted an early Spring while Sam predicted 6 more weeks of Winter. I personally think, judging by the amount of snow that was dumped after this prediction that Sam was the only one to predict the correct result.

Now onto my absence. In my last post I mentioned Rob and I were heading away to warmer climes. We flew down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to meet up with my Dad and Marjorie for a Caribbean cruise. We headed down a day ahead of the cruise just in case we encountered any weather or unforeseen problems on route. Due to a delay we missed our connection and arrived 3 hours later than intended. We stayed overnight in a little (very old and shabby) hotel along the beach front. Walking up in the morning to blue skies, sunshine and the beach just across the road was so lovely, the cruise didn't check in until later in the afternoon so we spent most of the day just milling up and down the beach.

We checked into the cruise around 5 pm and met Dad and Marjorie for dinner. It was lovely seeing them and catching up. Even though we have been in the same room for a good year and a half or more, it was as if I had never been away.

Our boat was home to 'The Stars of Ireland' Music tour with over 1000 people on board purely for the music. When they weren't playing in the evening for their fans the bands played on deck and I have to say they were all brilliant and knocked spots of any of the other entertainment on the boat.

On our travels we visited Cozumel Mexico, Roatan Island (Honduras), Grand Cayman and Jamaica.
Rob and I were lucky enough to do an excursion at every stop. In Mexico we did a deluxe beach tour, where you get to use all the facilities at a beautiful beach resort called Playa Mia. At Roatan Island we did a tour of the Island which took us from a lovely scenic look off to an Iguana Farm (never seen so many in one place, all freely walking around) and then on a boat trip around one of the 2 ship wrecks off the island, then finally to another perfect beach. In Grand Cayman under dad's advise we did a trip called Stingray Encounter. A boat takes you way out to sea where there is a sand bank, the perfectly clear water is about waist deep, everyone gets in and before too long, thanks to some squid, you are surrounded by huge stingrays looking for a snack. At first I found the whole thing quite unnerving especially as they brushed past our legs, but they really are very gentle creatures, the tour guides then encouraged us to get even more up close and personal posing for photos with them, which we did....all be it with some reservation in our faces :o) And then finally in Jamaica we did the Dunn's River Falls trip. Now there is no way on this planet that I was climbing up any waterfall, so I just went for the scenery but Rob climbed it, and well done to him, because it didn't look easy. In fact the dry walk and the steps proved tricky enough for me as I fell up them and scragged my arm up nicely. Two kind Germans picked me up.

After an action packed few days, Rob and I were pretty tired, the cruise had one full day at sea before returning back to Fort Lauderdale which we spent sunbathing on deck. I hadn't been watching any news reports, so when a gentleman from Quebec told me about the blizzard that was heading up the Eastern Seaboard that was affecting flights I quite surprised. Rob and I watched the news but the coverage was so crap on CNN it was hard to tell whether or not the blizzard was going to affect us getting home or not. Having said a tearful goodbye to Dad and Marjorie we disembarked and headed to the airport to find out our fate. We found out that Our flight to Philly was okay but our onward flight to Halifax was cancelled as Halifax airport was shut. The earliest they could get us on another flight was Monday (2 days later). We scrambled and tried ringing around for hotels, of course the whole world and his wife were doing the same thing as so many flights were cancelled. We were lucky to get a room in the Hilton Garden Inn (not cheap). We spent that afternoon in the hot tub chatting with other stranded folk. The following day (my birthday) we spent exploring the inner coastal waterways of Fort Lauderdale by water taxi. There are some truly amazing mansions and yachts along those canals. We traveled down to Hollywood Beach and had lunch in a place called The Sub Saloon which is apparently Oprah's favourite place for a burger. 13oz burgers. They were okay I give them a 7 out of 10. The most notable thing about this place are the birds! I got shat on there! Plop, right on the end of my nose and down my white shirt. They say it's lucky! I am not so sure.

We were back at the airport for 5 am, and were on our new flight to Philly on time. All was going well. At Philly that changed. Our incoming flight was delayed and it was over booked. With only 34 seats on it and approx 44 people waiting to board it, US Airways were asking people to volunteer to take vouchers and go on another flight. No one was budging as these people were all like us and had been trying to get back home for days. Not that is mattered in the scheme of things as when the plane did eventually turn up Our flight was promptly cancelled....They say it was due to weather which is a crock of shit. We saw planes taking off and landing perfectly, plus we had also checked the status of Halifax airport which was fine. They just say 'weather' so they don't have to pay compo. The truth of the matter is the crew were so late they ran out of flight time. US Airways must think we were all born yesterday!

You can imagine how annoyed everyone was. We were booked on another flight bound for Boston they next day, so off we went to another hotel (another Hilton). We ordered room service and headed for bed early as we had to be up at 3.30 am. I knew I was starting to get sick but this point but I didn't know how sick.

On Tuesday 12th Feb, we finally made it back home via Boston. In the afternoon we picked the boys up from the Cats Inn, they were pleased to see us. Then is was back to work on Wednesday. I was thick with what I thought was a cold by then, and feeling pretty rough. I worked Thursday and then crashed on Friday. The coughing was horrendous. Saturday I went to the Emergency Room, and was diagnosed with Bronchial Pneumonia. I was given some antibiotics and have been trying to recover ever since. I had fever, chills, lack of appetite and the worse coughing I have ever experienced. I missed the whole of last week and spent it in bed. I feel that I am starting to turn a corner now although the coughing continues I feel I have a little more energy.

Last night (23rd Feb) a bunch of us met up for fish and chips to finally celebrate mine and Cheryl's birthday. The food and company was good, I just wish I could have enjoyed it more rather than coughing my way though most of the evening.

I think that just about brings you all up to date. Here are just a few images (more to come from our travels).

Fort Lauderdale...Now one of my favourite places!

Sunset on Deck - MSC Poesia

You should see the wincy shot before this one!

Iguana Farm...Loved these critters!


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