Saturday, November 5 – It seems like old times
In April, 2015, we visited the Azores with mixed success. We were not able to make port Horta, so we were lucky enough to spend two days in Ponta Delgado. Both of these islands are volcanic rocks sitting in the middle of the Atlantic about 900 miles west of the nearest land mass. Their position made them vital re-supply points during World War II. The have similar architecture and lifestyles, depending mostly on agriculture and tourism.
The cruise facility at Ponta Delgada has been completely rebuilt since our first visit many years ago. It is now attached to a small shopping mall complete with a Burger King, cafes and tchotchke shops. Just across the road are stores of all types under apartments. While the “traditional” architecture has only several storeys, PD’s downtown is full of more modern highrises with balconies facing the ocean. The island, really a mountain top, rises steeply past the town and into farms and fields. These are only 4 or 5 blocks from the ship. In 2015, D climbed halfway to heaven looking for a pharmacy and can attest to the steepness of the hill and the streets.
Our mission today was simple – to return to a grocery store we found last year where we bought Spanish red wine. We were told of this store by Ken and Lois who found it by chance. The wine we bought then – and hoped to find today – was packaged in 1 liter boxes like kid’s fruit punch [minus the straw] and cost 1 euro per liter. That is not a misprint. MA said it made a really good sangria, so we wanted to replenish our supply. As the saying goes, we may never come this way again.
Before leaving the ship, we applied MA’s lidocaine patches [the same ones we were searching for here last year] to make the walking easier. This was our first foray of the ship and we didn’t want it ruined by back pain. We made our way around the shopping plaza and up the elevator to the main road and crossed without incident. Drivers in PD stop immediately for anyone in or even near a crosswalk.
We passed a large but inanimate cow, more tourist shops and cafes but could not find the grocery store we wanted. We stopped outside a wine shop [definitely not selling what we wanted!] and asked for directions to the market. The salesgirl in the shop spoke impeccable English but we stumbled over the meaning of “market.” At first she thought we were looking for the local fruit and vegetable market [mercado in Spanish but we were Portugal]. Then she realized we meant a supermarket and gave us directions to [wait for it]…the store with the cow outside.
We walked back whence we had come and entered one of several doors by the cow. Oops, wrong shop! But wait, there were actually several stores connected by a common entrance. The grocery was the one closest to the ship [and the cow]. The wine was in the same place on the shelf that we remembered and we eagerly placed 6 liters in our cart before adding to packages of cookies to have in the room. At checkout, the total was less than 8 euros.
Back on the Rotterdam, it became a day at sea in port: lunch in the Lido, reading in one of the lounges, trivia, SCAN, dinner, reading/writing. We skipped the show again, someone playing a glass violin.
As experienced HAL cruisers know, there are always chocolates on the bed at night. So far, most have been dark chocolate for a change. However, we have found a new source of calories which is even better; the ice cream bar now includes stroopwaffels alongside the cookies. We discovered these gooey pressed sandwiches when we visited the Netherlands in 2014. While those were several inches across, these are bite-sized and make a good afternoon snack. We have been stockpiling them in the cabin against a shortage which we will probably cause.
TOMORROW – The First of Two More Sea Days