Tuesday, April 28 - Day 84 - Las Palmas, Gran Canaries
Today we get to set foot on land for the first time since we sailed from Walvis Bay in Namibia last Monday, April 20. It has been a very smooth passage with calm seas and not much wind. The Queen Mary 2 is amazingly stable and we can only wonder what she might be like in some heavy seas. Maybe we will get a little more weather on our crossing to New York in a month.
We don’t think we have been to Las Palmas before and if we have it was 23 years ago when we did the transatlantic on the Vistfjord. Neither of us recognize the port as we pull in and dock. We do not have a tour so we do not need to scramble to get off the ship and have a leisurely breakfast, gather our gear for the day and go ashore about 10AM.
Las Palmas has a cruise terminal and we walk out to where we have seen a HOHO bus but there is a long line to get on. We are approached by a cab driver offering two hours of his time for 50 Euros which is a lot but the HOHO wants 36 Euros. We decide to go with him and he gets his cab. First we go to the old town where he drops us in front of the old cathedral and we agree he will pick us up in one hour.
We wander around taking photos of the old buildings and exploring in a
few shops. We see the house where Columbus was supposed to have stayed
going to or coming from one of his voyages to America. Heavy on the
“supposed to” but it is now a museum dedicated to him. We pass on
paying the fee here but Carolyn does go into the cathedral for 3 Euros.
She can’t pass up a church or a cathedral but Dick has had all of them,
including temples, that he can stand. So, while she is inside the
church, he sits on a bench across the street and people watches.
Our cab returns on time and we proceed to drive up to the top of the
local volcano for a look at the view. It last erupted 700 years ago and
its crater is one kilometer in circumference and 600 meters deep. It
now has a golf course on one edge and it would be very hard to retrieve a
lost ball down in that hole!
Returning to town we ask our driver to drop us at the Triana shopping
street. He does not want to take a credit card for his fare (“The card
machine does not work.”) even though Visa, Mastercard and American
Express logos are all over the car. Dick explains that he does not have
50 Euros cash so he has a problem. Suddenly, he finds his card reader
and it seems to work fine and he gets paid.
We walk the
length of Triana, a very busy shopping street, without finding much of
interest but at the end Carolyn does find a shop where, after much
looking, she buys some gift items made of leather. There went 75 Euros.
We walk back to a cab stand and head for the ship. That only costs 7.50
Euros. We board the ship, grab a light meal from the lounge and then
get back off to go to a modern shopping mall here at the cruise
terminal. It is a disappointment in that many of the spaces are empty
and many of the others are closed for the 1-4PM siesta. How do they
make a living? They have 2,000 well off foreigners delivered to their
door step and they close up for a nap!
Back to the ship for a final time and then we endure the repeated calls,
after the all aboard time, for Richard and Diane Something of Deck 5 to
please call the purser’s desk. This goes on for about 20 minutes
before Richard and Diane are found or report in and we can now sail but
there is still a delay in the immigration clearance, etc. The Captain
has earned his gray hair by putting up with petty, local officials.
Finally we are away and out of a very tight harbor with a destination of
Funchal, Madeira tomorrow.
We go to the Queen’s Grill Lounge for cocktails. We really like this lounge. It is on the small side, but is quiet and uncrowded with very attentive service. We then head to dinner and have steak and baked potatoes. The steak is very good..tender and juicy.
It has been a fun, but long day and we are glad to retire to bed early.