Archive for July 16th, 2014

Alaska – Day 2 Vancouver & the ship

I ate breakfast sitting on one of those chairs one often finds in hotel meeting rooms, using the box of a payphone as my table. It was one of those mornings. Arissa had to stand, so I guess I should be thankful for my makeshift table. The hotel, while quite nice and comfortable, had jammed the breakfast room – that was about the size of our hotel room – in the basement and then failed to provide adequate seating OR, and I find this incomprehensible as we are in Canada, area for a proper queue to even get breakfast. It was mass chaos. In the morning.

After stashing our luggage with the hotel folks, Arissa and I set out to the Vancouver public library to try our hand at a library cache. I’ve done a few similar caches before. I’m an English major. How difficult can this be? HAHAHAHAHA. 45 minutes later after exploring an awful lot of the stunning library, which looks like the Coliseum in Rome, we came up empty.

I’d done the “I know how to use a card catalog” thing to get us to the right call numbers. Only the book wasn’t there. We expanded our search, going on the hope that since the library was clearly being reorganized, there would be more of those call numbers elsewhere. We did find the oversized area and call numbers surrounding the one we were looking for, but still nothing. I can’t count the number of times we were up and down, up and down on the escalators. We were actually starting to get some weird looks.

So, fine. Nice library, Vancouver. But we’ll be on our way. Next stop, a cache on an army tank. Usually I avoid these types of caches. But this was a 1/1 and a not micro. How hard could it be? Um, yes. So we consulted the very specific hint. And…nothing. Well that’s not true. We did find someone’s coffee cup. I suppose an army tank tread is a good place to stash one’s porcelain coffee cup on the way to work, if one is not inclined to carry after finishing the coffee.

After all that failing, we figured we should head back to the hotel, gather up our stuff and catch a cab to the ship. The dock was not that far from our hotel, but we had a lot of luggage and it was insanely hot out. So to the ship via cab it was!

The cab pulls up, we hop out. The cabbie unloads our luggage and this little man with a cart says very quietly, “I take your luggage.” Arissa & I look at him. There are no signs. No indications what we are to do upon arriving at this place. He says again, “I take your luggage.” It seemed odd, considering all the other minutia we had regarding boarding and so forth, that we had no instructions for a rather important component of our vacation. A sweeping glance around found other folks letting the other similarly dressed fellows take their luggage, so we shrugged and hoped for the best as we watched it slide down a conveyor belt into a black hole that we hoped led to our ship.

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We had not been in our room more than 10 minutes when, “Knock. Knock. Knock.” We looked at each other. “What’s this?” This was a plate of chocolate covered strawberries. But before we were able to begin devouring the delectable treats, we had to show up for muster & learn how to wear the very stylish life vests, should the need arise. And I’ll be honest. All I could think was, that if the need arose I was going to be mightily ticked off (among other things I’m sure).

After proving that we knew the ups and downs of life vesting ourselves, we figured it was high time to take a stroll and enjoy the ship. It didn’t take us long to get lost. Too many elevators – some of which do not go all the way up or down – too many doors, too many corridors and too many decks. There is never going to be a moment on this ship when I head somewhere and feel confident that I am going in the right direction. But at least I knew where I was supposed to end up, eventually.

The best part of getting lost was we somehow ended up coming in the spa the back way and learned that there was this thing called the thermal suite. Basically it had chaise lounges of tile that were heated. Hmmm, it’s far more delightful than it sounds. Also in this thermal suite were saunas and a rain shower. Here’s note, if you don’t want to get your hair wet, don’t go into the thing labeled “Rain Shower”. (No, that was not me. Nor was it Arissa. It was some random lady that apparently did not put two and two together to figure out that Rain Shower meant water was going to be coming from the ceiling. This was also about the time that someone realized she’d not brought a swim suit. On a cruise. (Shopping for said bathing suit was about the time that someone else, realized she’d not brought gloves. On a cruise. To Alaksa.)

So we have an 8:00 dinner time at a table for six. Seems kinda late. But our other option was something like 5:45 which was way too early. So late it is! I’m a little apprehensive about the table for six thing. Forced mingling give me hives and I’m not a big fan of eating in front of people I don’t know.  I’ve always been that way. On the other hand, by 8:00 I was really, really hunger, so social anxiety be damned! Turned out things worked out pretty well. One couple – Ivan & Anna were originally from the Czech Republic. He fled in 1967 and wasn’t able to go back for 21 years. The other couple is from Columbus. She has man hands. He’s funny. (I’m on the fence about them.) At the very least they all have lots of stories and I can happily sit and listen and not feel compelled to talk much.

Anyway, back to the food. The sit down dinner is a good thing. We have a menu. Oh sure, we could order 20 entrees if we wanted, but I won’t. Which is WAY better than any behavior I would exhibit at a buffet (breakfast buffet….my delicious nemesis!). Tomorrow is our first formal night. I should still be able to squeeze into my dress – I’m sure that has to be part and parcel of having formal night so quickly, right? Plus, I signed up for yoga because it was there and I’m all types of motivated in the beginning of every vacation of my life. It doesn’t last, but that’s how I roll.

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And thus ends the first day on the ship. I have no idea if I’m going to end up sea sick. I have a supply of Dramamine and some of those sea band things that press on your acupuncture points or whatever. I feel like a dork wearing them, so I’ve just overloaded on actual bracelets. I look like a fortune teller. Guess we’ll see how this shakes out, but not literally because I really, really do not want to spend most of my time trying not to barf everywhere. I’m just going to assume that being seasick is every bit as bad as being hungover.  I’m also hoping I won’t find out!

chris on July 16th 2014 in Travel