Monthly Archives: November 2014

Buenos dias de Buenos Aires

We are currently cruising into the pier at Buenos Aires. Many people we have met told us this is the most interesting and fun port of the whole cruise.

Yesterday in Montevideo, it was 31 deg C and sunny. We walked up the pedestrian streets all the way to Independence Square. There were shops and lots of artisans stalls. It was clean and felt safe.

We bought a few souvenirs including some matte (matay) which all the locals drink out of a special cup with a silver spoon/straw. It is a loose tea that you pour hot water into from a thermos. It foams up and you slurp away.

We wisely had decided to have lunch on shore as we heard Uruguayan beef is very good. Well we found this huge grill building. People were eating inside on two levels and outside. There must have been a thousand diners. There were numerous wood/charcoal stoked grills with cooks working hard to keep up. We saw acres of beef, lamb, chicken and pork being cooked to perfection.

Most people ordered a platter of different meats that they all shared. We had some cheese stuffed filet and skewered beef that melted in your mouth. Yum! A bottle of superb local rose topped things off nicely. This place was as big as a small Costco store. The washrooms were way in the back, just like Costco! What a great lunch we had over a 90 minute period.

Back on board we had Polo Grill booked for a late feed of even more beef. Marie enjoyed the excellent Norwiegan salmon.

Well, clocks back an hour before bed so we are now only 2 hrs ahead of Ottawa time.

We feel so relaxed, wined and dined and happy to be coming home soon to see our friends and family. We give thanks to God for all his gifts.

Adios para agora.

Coming into Montevideo.
The gun sighting tower from the Adm Graf Spee.
Wine bottle service.

Yep, that’s it’s name.
Uh huh.
Tourist wares for sale.

Independence Square.

At the huge grill.

Polo Grill.

                                                                Nora’s tango lessons.

Buenos Aires skyline.
In the main dining room on the last night.

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Rio Grande do Sol

We had a very relaxing stop in this relatively prosperous yet modest city. The port is medium sized dotted with cement plants and an oil refinery. But the air is clean and humidity lower here. There are some large farms inland and a lot of gauchos (gowchos) cowboys. However we saw no evidence of this.

We were greeted by local dancers and then bussed in to the town centre. A labour demonstration was underway in the central park. But there were very few police in sight. Everything was respectful, passing cars honked their horns in support of the workers.

We found a pedestrian only street full of shops. A nice church and a gothic like cathedral. Dave found a nice Our Lady of Aparecida icon for a bargain. She, a black madonna, is the patron saint of Brazil.

We found a Hotel de Paris with free weefee and caught up our emails. We had our lunch on a nice shady bench. Marie continued browsing the shops while Dave strolled through a large park with some monkeys in cages and large eucalyptus trees.

People here are less coloured than up north. There was apparently a lot of German settlers. No one payed any attention to us tourists. People seemed very calm and happy. We bought some local wine and then headed back to the ship after a relaxing time.

This cruise is much more relaxed. We are no longer doing excursions other than getting off and walking around. The average age must be closer to 50 instead of 70. A lot fewer Americans, and more South Americans (Argentinians I think). Even the staff seem more relaxed as there are fewer on board than the previous cruise.

We have become quite close to Ravi, a waiter supervisor (main dining room and tea time) from India. He tips us off about the best foods and teas to choose. Very helpful, professional and friendly.

Looking forward to Uruguay but apparently there will be a 2 hour time change back tonight. Weather is superb, sun, sun, sun.

Marie says this is the best trip ever.

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Punta del Este

In the evening after our Rio Grande visit, the Captain’s Party was held in Horizons for previous O cruisers.

Well we sat at the bar this time. After a couple of caiparinhas and good conversation with Guendoly from Guetamala, Captain Strescovic came out. He gave a short speech thanking clients for their support. Some O pins were given out for gold and platinum clients (more than 10 and 20 previous O cruises respectively.)

Afterwards, they drifted over to the bar. I chatted with the Captain who confided it was tricky getting out of Parati after the Pulmantor Princess parked behind us. He said he really had to watch the harbour depth as we pulled around and out (remember he missed the opening party because he was busy). After wards he posed with Marie for a picture.

Didn’t they all come over. We chatted with the General Manager from France. Also with Claudia the social hostess from Rio. And finally briefly with Terry Bishop who had given a great talk on the Falklands War of the early 80s. Got some pics to prove it!

Next day we finally left Brazil and put into Punta (Poonta) del Este. This is where rich South Americans come to play. Endless expanses of beaches, swank condo highrises and up scale shopping. We walk around for several hours finally finding an ATM that would work for us. Strangely enough, even the Scotiabank ATM would not work for either our Scotibank debit card or Visa!

We settled on the beach and enjoyed the dry heat and warms waters. The town was not crowded as this is just the threshold of their summer season. There were maintenance repairs to buildings going on everwhere and a lot of painting. Nevertheless we saw the odd Porsche and plates from Argentina and Chile.

Another nice relaxing day was had by all.

Caiparinhas on-board.

With Captain Leo Strazicic.
General Manager Dominique Nicolle.
Social director Claudia from Rio.
Enrichment speaker Terry Bishop.
Heading into Punta del Este.

Sea lion I think.

Fun in P del E
This ATM worked.
This one did not.

Beach time.
The famous fingers monument.

Another beach.

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Best day yet

After 3 overcast and rainy days, we cruised into the South Atlantic blue blue sky today. We consequently spent 5 hrs in and around the pool with everyone else. It was the second sea day in a row. We were in need of some sun therapy. We got it in spades. This felt like our best day yet on board. (Or, how soon we forget how nice the other days were.)
Three days ago we went to the delightful old colonial town of Parati, a few hours south of Rio. We marvelled at the dozens and dozens of party boats in the harbour lined up in rows. We marched into the cobblestone streets and glimpsed 300 year old architecture and culture. The streets without any cars were lined with beautiful little shops, restaurants and bars.
We did a lot of souvenir shopping. We paused at the local beach for a coke zero and weefee which worked well. Strolling back thru the streets we heard lots of bossa nova guitar music in different bars and restaurants. Of course they were all playing classical nylon stringed electric guitars which you can rarely find in Canada.
After yet more souvenir shopping we headed back to the pier for the short tender ride to the ship. Later it was Toscana’s for Italian food, Dave’s favourite. (Lasagana, calamari, parmesagn cheese..)
Monday we docked at Santos, which has to be one of the biggest ports in the world. We saw container ships by the dozens coming and going. This is the industrial heartland of Brazil. Sau Paulo, a city of 12 million +, is an hour away.
The transfer was inefficient. One bus took us from the pier to the terminal and a 2nd from the terminal to an upscale shopping centre. This took an hour.
Not interested in the shopping centre (we forgot to bring any money or credit cards…), we walked 4 blocks to the beach. A long expanse of sand greeted us with towering condo/apt buildings for as far as one could see. A man said to check out the leaning condo buildings and we did. Some unstable soil resulted in some buildings of 12 or more floors leaning on an angle! Needless to say they were all for sale, ha!
We headed back to catch the 1 PM shuttle bus. Well, there was a big crowd as the schedule said the next one would not be until 3 PM (lunch break). People shoved and pushed to get on the 1 PM bus. It was a tumultous time. We spent 1 hour in Santos and an additional 2 hrs on various busses to get the 1 hour. Not our favourite stop for sure. However the sun came out for a few hrs once we were back on board.
The next day we were to tender in to Porto Bello, a small fishing village with many beaches. It was not to be.b The swell was tossing the tenders around like bobbing corks. Safety first, the captain announced that they were cancelling this stop. So, we had an unplanned sea day and it rained all day. Played some bridge and enjoyed the French cuisine in Jacques (canvas back duckling a l’orange, coquille St Jacques and some delicious soupe Marseillaise.
(Marie’s favorite restaurant).

That brings us up to date. Amanha, Rio Grande do Sol – hey gauch!

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A quintessential resort town 2 hrs north of Rio. We had a great day. We sat on the beach, had some caiparinhas and enjoyed the hot sunny weather. Marie sunned herself while Dave went for a swim.

Thousands of Brazilians holiday here every year. They were out in full force in flip flops and tangas enjoying a Saturday at the beach. We enjoyed watching them have a good time.

The shopping was great and not overly expensive. We enjoyed the walkability of the boardwalk and side streets full of shops, bars and restaurants. Overall it was our best day outing so far. Very relaxing and peacefull.

We tendered back to the ship and had a quick pool swim before the captain’s party. The Captain was detained on the bridge getting us out of the congested harbour (a Pullmantour cruise ship was in the way.) He missed his own party. But we toasted Oceania and enjoyed the 2 hour open bar.

After pizza and shrimp we had a restful night getting ready for Parati.

Bom noites!

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The Real Rio

We met Fr Bernard Colgan, OMI for lunch today. He lives in Duque de Caxias a suburb in Rio. He is from Dublin and is helping to establish a new Parish in this bustling city. He has been in Brazil for 40 years and loves it.

He says there is a lot of violence like car jackings and drug related crime. However he has never been at risk. Brazilians are religious people and there is a long history. Religion was an integrating force since the Portuguese landed here in the 14th century.

The shortage here is in skilled professionals like accountants, engineers and dentists. Despite the corruption problems, Brazil has made progress in improving incomes, sanitary standards and transportation.

We gave Bernie some Canadian maple syrup. He has never been to Canada and did not know what it was. It was great meeting him and chatting about Brazil.

We are starting our 2nd cruise now. The clientele is a little younger. We got a free upgrade to a cabin with an extended balcony. Life is good. We are so reslaxed and thankful.

See you at the next free weefee stop!

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A cidade maravilhosa 2014


Rio de Janiero is indeed the marvelous city. We arrived in November 2014 on the Oceania Marina to stunning blue skies as we cruised past Pao de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain).

Turning left just before the bridge to Niteroi, we docked at 8:45 AM. It was off the ship and onto the bus for our first day of a 2 day tour.  Eugenio (Eugene) was our tour guide. First we went to Sugar Loaf to beat the crowds. We took the two step tram up to the top. It was a marvelous 360 deg view more than a 1000 ft above Guanabara Bay. We had a clear view of Botafogo, Flamengo where Kim used to live and Copacabana Beach. As we descended we could here a military band playing.

We had lunch near the military (naval?) base at Vermelho (Red) beach as the band played on. They weighed our food in the restaurant. It was a good lunch of salads and fejoida. Continuing to the Botanical Gardens we walked around for an hour seeing brazil wood trees, orchids, bamboo plants, mango trees, some small monkeys, a scary mouthed fish and a tucan in a tree.  Getting tired after a visit to the Sambadrome, we stopped at the ultra modern Cathedral and marveled at the stained glass going up hundreds of feet to the roof above. Exhausted we got back to the ship about 5 PM.

After a good night’s sleep, it was back on the bus to Corcovado, the huge statue of Christ overlooking Rio. We took the train up the steep mountain and were rewarded with even more spectacular views than yesterday, Dozens of photos later we returned to the base for a buffet lunch in Botafogo. Dave helped himself to the cachaça in the little wooden barrel. The fejoida was to die for. Then we were dropped at Copacabana Beach. It was a State holiday and the beach was packed with families who are cariocas (people who live in Rio). We walked the beach and then shopped. Time for some caiparinhas. Taxi back to the pier at 5 PM again.

Impressions: the city is much more middle class now compared to 1978-79. We only saw a few beggars. People look very happy and celebrate life here. Family values are obviously strong. The fabulous weather, the natural beauty and the cachaça caiparinha cocktails (lime. sugar, ice) are as good as ever.  The only complaint Eugenio had about the favela residents is that they don’t pay taxes.

young-and-beautiful-people-at-ipanema-beach-rio-de-janeiro-brazil-AAM6P7 (2)

A note about beauty here.  Brazilians are obsessed with physical body beauty.  They want to be one of the “beautiful people” and to do that they are willing to go under the knife. Brazil has more plastic surgeons per capita than anywhere else in the world.  It is not seen as vanity to make yourself beautiful in Brazil.  Rather it is esteemed.  Read more here about this unique cultural obsession.

Everyone should come to Rio at least once to enjoy it. We have another night here. Tomorrow we will lunch with an Oblate who is on mission here. Ciau!

The iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain from Guanabara Bay.
Ilha das Enxadas which houses a school now.
Ponte Presidente Costa e Silva (Rio – Niteroi bridge)
Modern cable car that climbs Sugar Loaf.
Plane circling to land at Antonio Carlos Jobim Airport.
Praia do Flamengo where Kim lived.
Copacabana Beach
Vermelho Beach
Heading down
Heading up
Vermelho Beach
Driving by Copacabana Beach
At the Botanical Gardens.
Carnivale costume on sale at the Sambadrome store.
Rio Cathedral
Samba group
Sociedade Hipica Brasileira (The Jockey Club)
Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas from Corcovado
Botafogo and Pao de Açucar
Estadio Mario Filho Maracana (Futebol Stadium)
Selfie heading back down
Everyone is happy!
Fejoida (black bean stew)
Barrel of caçacha
Copacabana Beach
Dos caiparinhas por favor

More Memories (Marie’s pics follow)

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Today in Salvador

We had a leisurely morning after a great sleep. Marie headed off to the gym to do her thing and Dave went swimming. Following this we took in the brunch in the Grand Dining Room. There was a quartet playing many familiar love ballads (after all it is still our 30th wedding anniversary celebration).
And yes there is something on this cruise for everyone including a bingo jackpot of $2500, trivia team competition and dancing under the stars tonight.
We disembarqued in Salvador, Bahia at 2PM. After some free wifi, we walked into town to find a bank machine. We hopped the elevator from the Baixa (lower town) to the Alta (uppertown) for free (age 65).
Lot’s of people and tourists. Several squares filled with food and caiparinha stalls. There was loud live music playing. Salvadoreans dancing in the street. Big screen TV with 1000+ people watching s futebol competition. People were having a good time on Sunday PM.
We explored several old magnificant churches of colonial architecture. Gold lined chapels, crypts and paintings were amazing. We asked about Mass times. We were told there are no Masses held here any longer. These churches are museums testifying to the glorious past of Brazil’s catholicity.
We had a caiparinha in the square (cacacha (sugar cane alcohol), limes and sugar). Yum and pow! We saw hundreds of people from the blackest black, to brown and light skin. There were a few handicapped people with disformed bodies begging. We also saw a few people sleeping in the street (this can happen everywhere). There was also a significant armed police presence.
We finished the day off with a delicious steak dinner at Polo. We were seated with another couple from Ottawa by chance – go figure.
We noticed it had rained so the dancing under the stars was moved inside to dancing under the ceiling ha!
Next day Dave headed back into town. He picked up 2 black Madonna’s for Marie. Walking around he found a Mass going on in a church called Priests of the Rosario. After Mass finished, they walked to a little grotto out back praying the Rosary I think. I was given a candle to light and place. Thene we had hot lemon tea and a buttered roll. It was all so peaceful.
Having obtained some more cash, mission accomplished. One more elevator ride down for 9 cents fee!
Try to post this by free wifi and on our way now to Rio.

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Pronounced ‘he-see-fee’ is a large city in NE Brazil, capital of the State of Pernambuco. It is where Lenine, pronounced ‘layneenay’ one of my favorite Brazilian music artists comes from.

Named after the surrounding coastal recifes (reefs), this busy sea port is known as the ‘Venice of Brazil’. It stradles 5 islands all connected by dozens of bridges and waterways. Unlike Venice it is a huge metropolice of over 3.5 million people.

We arrived at 8h00 and went to the cruise terminal for some free wifi. We met Marie’s spinning (peddling bike) friend Hilda and shared a cab to Olinda, a small colonial town perched on a hill overlooking Recife.

We walked around the cobble stone streets and did some shopping. Marie got some nice leather shoes and I found a ball cap made of canvas. It was so darned hot (32 deg C+). We ventured into one of the many churches and then sat in the shade to eat our lunch.

While it was not very exciting, it was great to be back in Brazil seeing the happy people and smelling the smells of food stalls everywhere. Every Brazilian we met was relaxed, kind and happy to see us despite the language barrier.

We got back to the ship and hopped in the pool which was like a hot tub. The sail away at 17h00 was great. Had some Brazilian fejoida (fayjuwada) black bean casulet for dinner along with lobsters tail, prawns, Bali lamb etc.
We are enjoying our cruise experience. There is plenty of time to reflect about deeper questions such as Faith and purpose. We are half way thru our trip and not quite half thru our cruise. Salvador do Bahia lurks ahead in the humidity

Ate logo.

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People on Board

People on board Marina are well travelled.  Most have been almost everywhere, some more than once.  We met one couple from Guelph, ON who have spent 306 days aboard Oceania after trying other lines previously. That’s a lot of cruising!

Most are couples. There are a few gay couples and a few singles. We even saw one child, about 10 years old aboard. Average age is about 70 on this cruise which makes us feel young again.

Cooking class, I passed!

 Our wonderful Prive evening

Passengers on this cruise come from in descending order of number:
– U.S.
– Canada
– Germany
– Brazil
– U.K.

People are friendly and talkative. You can always sit down with people you don’t know for breakfast, lunch or tea and half a chat. We met one couple we knew from a previous cruise, George and Rosie from Vancouver who are great dancers.

Last night we went for the privee dinner for 10 in a private dining room between 2 fancy specialty restaurants. We met couples from Ft. Lauderdale, Jackson MS, New Zealand and Miami. They brought us a 30 anniversary cake which we shared with the table. We were there almost to 10:30 PM – it was a great evening with probably the best service and food we have ever had,

The ship is not completely full which makes things easier. People including us are more relaxed and rested after 3 sea daze. Brazil is lurking in the mist ahead. Marvelioso!

Boat contest
Cruise Director Ray Carr MCs
The Winner
Runners Up

 Colorado Pete get’s gooped
My turn, from Polliwog to Shellback

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