Back to Barbados

Thursday, 3 March 2016

When we woke up early this morning we found that the Adonia was docked right back where we’d started, in Bridgetown.  But we weren’t going home quite yet; we had the whole day and overnight in this fantastic country; in fact this is our seventh visit to Barbados – we love it here.  🙂

We could see that the Braemar was back in port again, as was the Azura.  We determined to make the most of the day.

After breakfast we decided to take a walk into Bridgetown city centre.  It’s only just over a mile and is a pleasant stroll.  So, ignoring the taxi and mini-bus drivers all vying for our business, we set off on foot, the sun already very hot.

We walked along, passing the sea wall and the gardens that run alongside, with their grass, trees, flowers and benches where you can sit and people-watch.  At one point we crossed over a small bridge and, when we looked down, we saw numerous small crabs on the concrete ledges below; they had been brought in on the tide.

The main city of Bridgetown has many good shops, including the well-known duty free department store, Cave Shepherd.  There were also lots jewellers, clothing and shoe shops, off-licences and souvenir stores.  Along the roadsides were stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables and household goods.

We found what we were looking for – a little ramshackle bar where the locals hang out.  When I say “bar” however, it’s really just a shelter with a corrugated tin roof and a few wooden caravan-type vehicles with a serving hatch at the front.  The ‘caravans’ contained ice-chests full of bottles of Banks’s beer, “the beer of Barbados” and there were a number of rickety, mis-matched tables and chairs where you could sit and enjoy it.  We’d been here before, a couple of times, and the beer is much cheaper than in the cruise terminal (a third of the price).  There were a number of locals in there, including some off-duty drivers from the nearby bus station.  We enjoyed a couple of Banks’s each before making our way to Carlisle Bay Beach.

Carlisle Bay is a hidden gem; most people visiting Barbados will no doubt go to the more fashionable areas such as Oistins or St. Lawrence Gap.  But there is a Radisson Hotel at Carlisle Bay, as well as the popular Boathouse, which (for a fee) allows sunseekers to use the facilities such as water sports and large inflatables, along a large boardwalk.

We kicked off our shoes and walked along the gorgeous white sandy beach, the surf lapping at our ankles.  We had thought about bringing our cossies and going swimming, but I didn’t fancy walking the mile back to the ship in a damp swimsuit.  So we just made do with enjoying the surf, sand and sun, and feeling sad that this time tomorrow we’d be at the airport, waiting for our flight home.  😦

As we walked along the beach we noticed some guys up ahead leading some horses to the surf.  The horses took some persuading but eventually they went into the sea and started to swim, going a fair way out.  I suppose it’s a nice way for them to cool down, the way we do ourselves.  🙂

We spent the best part of an hour at the beach before deciding to make our way back to the ship, as we still had a mile to walk in the hot sun and we hadn’t brought any sun protection with us.

We arrived back at the docks and walked along, looking at the other ships moored up.  One of them was The World, a ship that is different in that the passengers permanently live on board; they must be very wealthy.  It has 165 residences (106 apartments, 19 studio apartments, and 40 studios), all owned by the ship’s residents. Average occupancy is 150 – 200 residents and guests.  The World was built in March 2002, and we had seen it before, during our cruise of the Baltic in August 2002 on board the Caronia.

Back on board the Adonia we went along to the Lido Café on the pool deck for some lunch, before making our way back to cabin A006 and reluctantly making a start with our packing.  Then we sat out on our balcony for a while, just passing the time in its usual pleasant way.

At dinner tonight we were missing a couple off our table – Bob and Thelma, who had left the Adonia to join the Braemar for its transatlantic voyage back to Dover, via the Azores.  We are already booked to do the same trip next year.  We enjoyed our “last supper” and the company of Colin and Christine as usual, then off we went for the final show in the Curzon Lounge, which was called “We’ll Meet Again” and featured war time songs, where we were all encouraged to sing along amid much  flag-waving.  It was an enjoyable show.

We then went up to the Crow’s Nest where they were holding an 80’s disco; there were not many people there (maybe they were all packing) but I was encouraged to get up and dance by some of the entertainment team. I asked for Oops Upside Your Head, the 1981 hit by the Gap Band where everybody gets down on the floor, one behind the other, and “rows”.  But only three of us were doing the rowing on an otherwise empty dance floor, so it fell a bit flat.

Then it was up to the Conservatory as usual to do the syndicate quiz. However, we were on our own this time, as John and Linda were packing and said they’d have an early night.  So we were pretty rubbish in the quiz, coming last.

Back in our cabin we finished the packing, leaving out only the stuff we’d need in the morning, and we put our cases outside the door for collection.  Then we settled down for our last night on board.  😦

Friday, 4 March 2016

So here we were, our holiday over.  We had to be out of our cabin before 8.30am, so once we’d had our breakfasts we just picked up our hand luggage and went along to Anderson’s Bar, where we waited for the call to disembark.

After about an hour, we heard the announcement for the Manchester flight, so we went down to Deck 3 and disembarked the Adonia for the last time, before making our way to the buses waiting nearby.  Once the bus was full, we set off for the 45 minute journey to the airport.  As the bus pulled away, clouds gathered and it started to rain – the first rain we had seen in a fortnight.  🙂

When we arrived at the airport, the bus pulled into a layby behind another bus, and an airport official came to tell us that, since the airport was a little congested with all the disembarking cruise passengers, we would have to sit here and wait.  This has happened before, and it is a bit of a nuisance.  I’d rather be sitting in the comfort of the executive lounge than on a bus!  It was another half an hour before the bus finally made a move, and we could go and check in.  The good thing was that our luggage had already been checked; we wouldn’t see it again until we arrived at Manchester airport tomorrow morning.

We got our boarding passes and went along to the exec lounge, where we had about an hour and a half before our flight.  We enjoyed the usual gratis drinks and canapés before making our way to the departure gate.

When we boarded the aircraft, we found we were sitting next to Colin and Chris, but we were right next to the toilets so we didn’t know whether that would be an advantage or disadvantage.

Once everyone was on board, the plane taxied to the runway and took off into the wide blue yonder, on time.  Then it was just the usual; pre-dinner drinks, aeroplane food, post-dinner drinks etc.  The only bit of excitement we had was when the guy sitting in front of us started to feel quite ill, and fainted.  Then the call of “is there a medical professional on board?” was announced, and a couple of nurses made themselves known to the cabin crew.  They let the bloke lie down across three seats, and they put the oxygen mask on him, until he recovered and started to get some of his colour back.

I did not sleep on the flight.  All night long people were coming and going to the toilets; the door would open, the light would come on, the door would bang shut, then there’d be the noise of the vacuum flush – it went on and on, all night.  It was a relief when the lights finally came back on for breakfast.

Afterwards we just had an hour or so of the flight left before we landed at a cold, dark and snowy Manchester at 5.00am.  We had quite a while to wait until our cases arrived, then it was along to the shuttle bus to take us back to the Jetparks car parking.  The car was freezing and we had to brush snow off the front and back windscreens – about a 30 degree drop in temperature from the good old Caribbean.

We set off about 6.00am on the road for home.  There wasn’t much traffic around at that time on a Saturday morning, and we arrived back in the house just after nine o’clock.  Then I went straight to bed to try to catch up on my lost sleep, and jet lag.

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