Archive | January, 2011

January 31 – Getting Around the Ship

31 Jan

Stairs and Elevators

Our ship, the QM2, is the largest ocean liner at sea.  That means that there are lots of floors on the ship and lots of elevators and stairs to get to those different floors.

It is not difficult to find your way around the ship, because there are lots of directional signs – those are the signs that help you find your way from one place to another.  The signs are in the shape of the ship’s silhouette.  According to my dictionary, a silhouette is a representation of something showing the shape and outline only.   Well, our signs show a little bit more than just the outline – it also shows the location of the public rooms and the stairwells.  So, here’s what the sign looks like

As you can see on the sign, the number of the floor is indicated along with the letter of the stairway.  There are 4 major stairways on the ship.  These stairways are designated as A, B, C and D.  Stairway A is at the very front, or bow, of the ship.  Then, Stairway B is a little behind A.  Stairway C is a little further behind B.  And finally, Stairway D is the one closest to the stern, or the rear of the ship.

Each stairwell and the elevators in each of the stairwells is designated by a different color carpet.  The A stairwell has green colored carpet.  The B stairwell has red colored carpet.  The C stairwell has white colored carpet.  And the D stairwell has gold colored carpet.  And since the carpet in the photo below is gold, this must be the D stairwell, right?

Oftentimes, directions to a specific location will include the floor and the stairwell letter.  You can match up the two pieces of information and find the correct spot!  JJ and I have had to use this sometimes, especially when we’re going to someplace new on the ship.  And if you’re curious, our cabin is located on floor 4 between the B and C stairways.  The designation for our cabin number is also our mailbox!!

Now when you are on the ship, you can find out exactly where you are by using either the directional signs or by the color of the carpet on the stairs.

See, that’s not hard, is it?

JJ and I have found a really good spot to get snacks.  There are lots of fresh fruits to eat, but JJ and I have also found the delicious ice cream and cookies!!!!!


January 30 – South Atlantic Ocean

30 Jan

Nautical Fact:  Waves

Sea water is rarely still – it us usually moving in waves, tides or currents.  Waves are caused by wind blowing across the surface of the ocean.  The height of a wave is determined by the wind speed, the time the wind has been blowing and the distance the wave has travelled over the ocean.

We all know how much fun we have when we go to the beach and we play in the waves . . . so now you know what causes those waves!!

Navigation Information:  The Great Circle Track

Just so you can follow along, we’re going to be following the Great Circle Track in the South Atlantic Ocean on the way to Cape Town, South Africa.

There are a couple of ways to determine the course and distance from one point to another as we travel on the ocean.  One of those is called the Great Circle.  Long ocean passages use the great circle because it is the shortest distance between any two points on the surface of the Earth.  Our route will be almost a straight line between Montevideo to Cape Town, but not quite.

Can you believe that we’re leaving one continent, South America and our next stop will be another continent, Africa?

Now, that’s pretty awesome . . .

FYI . . .

We have moved our clocks forward two nights in a row . . . that means that we have lost one hour each day.  We are now 5 hours ahead of the east coast of the United States.

January 29 – Montevideo, Uruguay

29 Jan

If it’s Friday, it must be Montevideo . . .

We arrived a little early into Montevideo today.  We’ll give you a little insight as to why we arrived early . . . yesterday during the Captain’s noon announcements, he indicated that he was not happy.  Not happy you ask?  Well, it appears that the QM2 must make a “tricky move” to dock in Montevideo.  It also appears that we would be sharing the dock space with the Celebrity Infinity ship in Montevideo.  Because of the tricky move that we had to make to dock, the Infinity had originally agreed to let us dock first, then they would dock.  But, it seems that the Infinity had a change of heart  —  they wanted to dock first and the QM2 would have to fend for herself.

Have you seen the size of the QM2?  Not a tiny ship to turn around  –  even with lots of room, it is quite a job.  So, the Captain said that our agent would talk with their agent and sort out the details.  And long story short, the QM2 was allowed to dock first, but we also had to come into port about an hour earlier than originally planned.  The Celebrity Infinity came roaring into the dock area just as we were getting settled in.

The day offered glorious sunshine – and temperatures in the 85 – 87 degree range.

Before we disembarked the ship, JJ and I watched the forklifts putting lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and Coca-Colas onto the ship!  We’ll need some fresh food because you may have looked at our itinerary and see that we’ll be crossing the Southern Atlantic ocean for 6 days on our way to Cape Town.

The old town portion of Montevideo is within walking distance of the port.  There is also a shopping area very near the dock called the Mercado del Puerto.  The plan along with Mr. and Mrs. Short, was to walk into the old town, then walk back to the Mercado for lunch.

We obtained a map that indicated the walking tours as well as information about the historical buildings.  On the map, there was a red tour and a green tour.  Both started at the same spot and both ended at the same spot . . . so, we decided to walk to the Plaza Independencia using the red tour and returning to the port using the green tour.

We passed many of the historical buildings, had a Coca-Cola in a small sidewalk café and pressed on to the Plaza.  We walked through a flea market and purchased a couple of small items.

At close to 1:00 pm, we decided that lunch was in order.  We headed for the Mercado and took a few minutes to decide which of the multiple restaurants would have the pleasure of our company.  We all decided that all of the restaurants have essentially the same menu  —  beef, sausage and chicken  – with a few fried potatoes thrown in for good measure.  There are a few seafood dishes to make it interesting – and a salsa on the side!!  All of the meats are cooked on a grill using wood as the fuel!  The open flame is not directly under the meat, but set off to the side or behind the meats.    Delicious!  Delicious!  Delicious!

After lunch, we did a bit of shopping and back to the ship we walked.  There was a complimentary shuttle bus to/from the center of Old Town, but we decided to walk instead!

You may not be familiar with the German pocket battleship, Graf Spee and the battle on the River Plate, but your parents may have studied this battle in their history classes when they were in school.  Well, we were fortunate that we got to see the anchor and the range finder!  We had just a few days ago heard a lecture about this famous German vessel and getting to see some of the recovered parts of the ship made history come alive!

Now, back at sea we go . . . six sea days through the Southern Atlantic Ocean on our way to Cape Town, South Africa.

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January 28 – Montevideo, Uruguay

28 Jan




Montevideo, Uruguay

Location: Southern South America bordering the South Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and Argentina


Population: 3,510,386 (July 2010 est.)

Capital: Montevideo

Language: Spanish, Portunol or Brazilero (Portuguese-Spanish mix on the Brazilian frontier)

Currency: Uruguayan peso (UYU)

Industries: food processing, electrical machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum products, textiles, chemicals, beverages

Area Comparative: Slightly smaller than the state of Washington

Geographic Notes: Second-smallest South American country (after Suriname); most of the low-lying landscape (three quarters of the country) is ideal for cattle and sheep raising.

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Click Here for Time and Weather in Montevideo

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World Cup Soccer – Uruguay Style!!

Check back tomorrow to find out about my adventures in Montevideo, Uruguay!

January 27 – The Commodores Cuff Links

27 Jan

What’s that behind me?  Modern art sculptures?

Actually no, they are spare propeller blades for the QM2’s propulsion system.  You’ve probably seen small propeller blades, but these are very large.  Very large because the propulsion system needs to be big enough to make our very large ship move!!  Here are some small propeller blades

The crew of the ship calls the spare blades “The Commodores Cuff Links”.  These spare blades are located right on the bow of the ship.  You remember, the bow is the front of the ship (the pointed end).

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

January 26 – Our Day in Rio

26 Jan

We arrived in Rio just like the Captain said – along side at about 8:00 am.  JJ and I had gotten up at 5:30 am to watch the sail into one of the most famous harbors in the world.  Up on the Observation Deck, we were greeted with a gorgeous sunrise and the city just starting to awaken.  The famous status of the Christ was lit and can be seen from most angles throughout the harbor.

Prior to disembarkation, there was an announcement that the day’s weather forecast would be hot (mid 90’s) with LOTS of sunshine.

JJ, along with Mr. and Mrs. Short, had arranged for a private guide for the day.  We had agreed on 9:00 am to meet our guide Rafa.  The meeting place was inside the terminal building just before you exit.

At about 9:20 am, we began to get a little nervous about whether Rafa our guide would show up.

Months ago, when JJ first met Rafa, he indicated that he wanted to take us on a tour of Rio that would show us the side of the city that usually tourists don’t see.  We all liked that idea very much.

Rafa arrived – a little late and a little unhappy because he had to park several blocks away due to some work going on at the terminal. So, the first part of our tour was to “find” the car!  Into the immediate area of the terminal we walked – and walked – and walked.  Finally, Rafa’s car was located and off we went.

The first area into which we went is a neighborhood known as Little Portugal.  The winding streets, the small trams and the architecture remind you of Lisbon.  There are small homes, large homes and small shops all in the same block.  Also, there are great vistas of the city below.

Next we went to the top of a flight of stairs that has been decorated in tiles by the artist Selaron.  The view from the top of the stairs is just a wide, plain concrete stairway connecting one neighborhood to another.  Oh how deceiving that view is!!  One must go down a few steps and look back up the stairs.  There is the most extraordinary mosaic work on the riser part of the stairs . . . then as you move further down, you begin to notice that every flat surface has been covered with mosaic tiles.  Then, as you begin to study the tiles, you find that they are from all over the world.  People familiar with Selaron’s work bring him a ceramic tile from their travels – or tourists bring a tile from their home city or country.  We got to meet Selaron – a typical moody artist – but he was in a “good” mood and spoke with us briefly.  What an amazing stop on our tour!!

On we went to the Forest of Tijuca.  You may know that only two major cities in the world have a rain forest within the city limits  —  one is Singapore and the other is ????  Rio!  You’re right!!  You may know that the statue of the Christ is located in the forest.  Therefore, we were in an area of the forest located adjacent to the statue of The Christ.  Driving through the forest afforded us opportunities for great vistas of the city, and unique views of The Christ statue as well as waterfalls, lush vegetation peace and quite and cooler temperatures!!  There were some kids who were enjoying getting into the very cool water!

The tour marched onward . . . the next stop was Marapendi.  This is a very unique neighborhood or village of 7 islands – connected to the mainland by small wooden boats.  Carlos was our boat “captain” and off into the wetlands we went.  This provided us a view of very unique residential living, wildlife and overall a different way of life – all within this very urban metropolis.  Part of the tour was on the boat and part was walking within the neighborhood.  As we walked, we came to one home where Rafa summoned a lady who sells a frozen fruit treat – almost like ice cream – made with fresh ingredients!  Just what the doctor ordered – the 90 degree temperatures were starting to get to us!!

Now we pressed onward to Niteroi.  What, you ask, is Niteroi?  Well, it is the city that is across the bay from Rio.  One would say that they absolutely have the best view.  This would be the equivalent of Hoboken, NJ looking at New York City.  So, over the big bridge we went and into Niteroi.  We made a quick stop to appreciate and photograph the amazing view of Rio.  Then we decided that it was time for lunch – we were hungry!!  Rafa recommended the Restaurant a Mineira – a buffet style restaurant that serves traditional Brazilian food.  We all sampled all of the delicacies that Rafa recommended . . . fat and happy, we were ready to continue the tour!!

Rafa promised that the last stop would be the most memorable and most magnificent of the entire day!

So, up, up, up to the top of a mountain we went . . . once we reached the summit, we walked out onto a viewing platform . . . and the views were breath taking.  Absolutely gorgeous . . . then words could hardly describe what you were seeing.  There was one platform to looking at the city and the bay and one for looking at the ocean side.  We later learned that these platforms were used for hang gliders as their “jumping off” spots.

Exhausted, we made our way back to the ship.  Hugs all around for Rafa, our new friend in Rio.  Thank you Rafa for a wonderful tour and a very memorable day in a fabulous city!  You were right, we now know why Rio is one of the most sensational cities in the world.

I got to see a lot of kids in Rio.  Remember, the seasons of the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere are opposite of each other. Rio de Janeiro is located in the Southern Hemisphere, so, it is SUMMER in the Southern Hemisphere while it is WINTER in the Northern Hemisphere.

Even though it was way past my bedtime, Mr. and Mrs. Short invited us for a sail away party in their cabin at 11:00 pm – and shortly after 11:00 pm, we let go of the lines and sailed quietly into the night . . . bound for Montevideo.

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January 25 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

25 Jan

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Today we are in Rio de Janeiro.  We have a very special tour guide scheduled for the day.  Our guide’s name is Rafa.  Rafa sent JJ this very special video and I wanted to share it with you.  This video (about 8 minutes long), called “Watercolor of Brazil”,  is a Disney cartoon that was made in 1942!  That’s a long time ago . . .  Here’s the link to this very cool video:

Aquerla do Brasil or

Watercolor of Brazil

you can also click on Donald Duck’s picture to get to the video!!

Jose Carioca “Let’s go see the town!”

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Click Here for Time and Weather in Rio de Janeiro

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Check back on my Travel Blog tomorrow.  Because that’s when you’ll be able to read all about my activities while I spent the day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil!!

tenha um ótimo dia

(that’s Have a great day! in Portuguese!!)

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