Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cruise Blog VI: Cartagena, Columbia

Red Bougainvillea, originally uploaded by Fancy Horse.

Cartagena includes an interesting, historical Spanish fort from the 16th century, a quaint old-town district, shops, and lots of street vendors and street performers, as well as a large modern downtown.

Columbia's flag
Flag of Columbia atop Ft. San Felipe

The old part of the city is surrounded by the ancient city wall. During the time of Spanish rule, it was necessary to have forts and protective walls to protect against pirates.
Old gate in city wall
Part of the old city wall

Fort San Felipe
Castillo San Felipe de Barajas

We took a bus tour, with some walking in the old city. We passed some attractive private homes
Gold colored house with gate

Blue fence

And stopped at a historical area honoring one of Columbia's most influential presidents, President Rafael Nunez. We saw his home and a church he built (from the outside), and a small park with his statue.
Statue of Rafael Nunez

Home of Rafael Nunez

President Nunez built this church for the people

On the bus again, we rode to a shopping plaza, where we found nice little shops, some jewelry stores, a coffeeshop that gave us free Cokes and cold water(!), and restroom facilities. There were two or three women there dressed like Carmen Miranda, and they posed with us for pictures, for tips.
One of the "Carmen Miranda" women in the shopping plaza

Shop window

We took a walking tour through part of the old city
Red church door

Pretty balcony through arch

Old city street
Saw an artist at work
Street artist

We arrived at a park with a statue of Simon Bolivar, famous hero of South America
Simon Bolivar

We saw some street performers all in black, even their skin was painted black, and they were dressed in Revolutionary costume, recreating, I suppose, the battles that Bolivar was engaged in.
Not a statue

We also saw some acrobatic street performers. They worked hard for their tips! I regretted the tip I had given the Carmen Miranda women; they didn't work nearly as hard!
Street Acrobats

In addition to the performers, street vendors were everywhere. They began to get annoying, following me with their wares, waving tablecloths in my face, tapping me with jewelry boards. I just wanted to get away from them!
Tourists and street vendors at Ft. San Felipe
I know they were trying to earn a living, and at least they weren't stealing, but enough is enough!

On our way back to the ship, we saw some of the "new city" from a distance. It is bigger than I expected!
Modern buildings in the new part of town
View of city from ship
City skyline - Cartagena, Columbia

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cruise blog V: Panama Canal Transit

Daybreak near Panama, originally uploaded by Fancy Horse.

We got up *early* in the morning the day we cruised the Panama Canal, so we wouldn't miss anything! Everyone had the same idea - I never saw so many people at breakfast, especially on a day we didn't leave the ship!

The sunrise was beautiful. I took several photos. (I'm not putting all my photos in the blog; if you click on any picture here, it will take you to Flickr, where you can click on the "set" the picture is in, and choose to see them all individually or as a slideshow.)

Shopping on deck
Many people shopping on Lido deck
We didn't get off the ship, but we still had an opportunity to shop! They brought several items and set them up on tables on the deck near the pool and breakfast buffet. I bought T-shirts for hubby and myself, and a wooden parrot for my mother.

In this photo, you can see the framework of the Bridge of the Americas which we were passing under.
Up early to see it all

The beautiful, lush countryside of Panama, and the LDS (Mormon) temple overlooking the Canal
Approaching Miraflores

Entering the Miraflores Locks
Entering Miraflores Lock

Up close and personal
view of Miraflores locks from my cabin
I had gone to our cabin briefly for a "pit stop" and when I came out of the bathroom, the cabin looked very dark! This is why: we were in the lock!

This is a shot of the "other" canal next to us.
Smaller boats were using it
The Discovery

The closing of the lock's gates was a popular sight:
Seeing it closed
Another view:

Almost through the Miraflores Lock
Slowly but surely

Passing the Visitor's Center at Miraflores
Carnival reflections in window, Panama Canal Visitors Center
I understand that there are a lot of interesting exhibits there, but we didn't get to go in.

We passed green countryside,
Transporting freight by train
Tree with pink flowers
Industrial buildings,
Industrial buildings
And then came to the large and beautiful Gatun Lake!
Tree-lined shore
On the lake

We decided that we wouldn't mind living in a house overlooking the canal!
A house

I was in our cabin again when we passed under the Centennial Bridge
Centennial Bridge, from my cabin window
Passing under Centennial Bridge

Some of the construction for the Panama Canal Expansion Project

Entering the Gatun Locks
Gatun Locks
A watchtower (I thought they were lighthouses, but they're not.)
Watch tower
You can see how high we are. We're about to be lowered back down to sea level. The movement up and down was so smooth that I didn't even notice when it happened!
Just before lowering
There were six engines on tracks like a train, with cables attached to our ship, keeping us aligned correctly. Three on each side
One of the six trucks that pulled us through
In the above photo, the cables were taut; now they have released them, as we are through the last lock, and almost through the canal!
Letting go

The Caribbean Sea -- we are through the Panama Canal!
Leaving the canal, entering the Atlantic