When we stepped out onto the deck tonight and the breeze warmly wrapped our pants round our legs we reflected that the feeling would have been quite different if we had done this at home where the same pants would probably have turned stiff and our legs felt the chill of the cold fabric. We are fortunate to be able to escape at least some of the ravages of winter.
We were up early this morning and had our breakfast delivered to our room. We ate and got ready then waited for the all clear to leave the ship. We watched the ship dock at Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. This is a cruise line created port on the north of the island.
Once called, we went down and were off quite easily today and went to the appointed meeting place for our tour. We lined up and almost immediately were escorted to a bus. This seems to have been the best organized place for ship's tours. Everything went like clockwork, which was just as well, as rain kept threatening.
The tour took us along the coast to a city called Puerto Plata. It seemed to be a reasonably large city with an old downtown. It was somewhat breathtaking to see the driver make a sharp right turn off the main road and up a narrow road that appeared narrower than our back alleys, its narrowness emphasized by power poles on both sides of the driving surface. We made it to the other end unscathed.
We were dropped off at the central square. As the rain started. We were taken to what was described as a market, but appeared to be a glorified souvenir store. We spent quite a while there and at one point I decided to head off to take photos of the cathedral across the square. Police were everywhere, herding tourists together. I noticed that our group was exiting the market and hurried top join them as they disappeared down a side street.
We went to a small cigar factory to see cigars being rolled which was interesting, but not something that really intrigued me. The machinery was primitive and obviously quite ancient.
We went to a street that has a canopy of parasols providing shade. I have seen photos of this one, or one very like it in some travel magazines. From there we went up to the cathedral and were taken inside. It was typical of the Spanish places of worship and full of garish images and some interesting stain glass windows which Christine commented all portrayed Mary with a very sad countenance. We walked across the square past statues of the founders of the country and the city hall. It was proudly pointed out that the crest of the Dominican Republic is the only one in the world to have an image of the Bible shown on it.
The bus appeared and we all boarded it.
A stop half way back to the ship allowed us a brief view of a statue of Poseidon (or Neptune) on an island. Quite what the connection to the Dominican Republic is, I am not sure, but on a better day, I am sure the beach would be a most attractive place. Given the weather, it was deserted today.
We had a brief photo opportunity at San Filipe Fortress, the ruin of a once active battle station to ward off enemies and pirates. A statue of General Luberon is in the park close by. He was instrumental in throwing off the Spanish rule of he island and restoring self government, eventually becoming president. This is an area I would have liked to have been able to spend more time.
We returned from there to the ship where we went round the jewellery stores for Christine to acquire a larimer pendant and bracelet. Larimer is a semiprecious gemstone only found in the Dominican Republic where volcanic action substituted some of the chemicals in the quartz with copper, giving it a blue colour, reminiscent of the sea, hence the name. The rain was gone and the sun appeared and shone most of the rest of the day.
We returned to the ship and had a light lunch then I went back on shore to use the much faster Internet and update the journal. Christine did some puzzles on the veranda and watched the activity on yet another Carnival ship - the Elation - that had docked opposite us.
I sorted out our photos and we got ready for dinner which we enjoyed once again. I do not know if it is the dining room we have chosen to eat in or just our age, but the portions seem much larger than we remember from the past and there have been few meals where we have been able to clear our plates and tonight was no exception. It was very tasty, if large.
We went along and enjoyed the string orchestra, but the show did not interest us, so we had a walk round the deck and returned to our room to read and relax.
Tomorrow is a sea day, so more relaxation is I order.