A Tale Of Four Cities

Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by dolphingirl47, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Thanks. It is my favourite colour.

    We are kind of used to this by now.

    Thanks.

    I think this has little to do with what I am wearing and more with the colour of my skin and hair. I got just as many requests wearing leggings and a winter coat.

    I really love this, too. I got another one in red for our upcoming cruise.

    Corinna
     
  2. petals

    petals Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!

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    Catching up. Luvin the Disney pictures. I need a Gelatoni (and the rest of the new characters) he's so cute though. The blue dress you have on for the cruise is fab!
     
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  4. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    I only have a Gelatoni mini Tsum Tsum. I can't wait to meet Cookie and also would love to meet Stella Lou.

    Thanks.

    Corinna
     
  5. petals

    petals Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!

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    I have the Gelatoni TsumTsum as well, he’s so cute! I love all the new characters. Did you see they have a turtle especially for Hawaii as well!
     
  6. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Yes, I have seen him, but somehow he does not grab me. Now Cookie is a different matter entirely. She is cute as a button.

    Corinna
     
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  7. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Day 7

    We learned a very valuable lesson that morning: Do not choose a balcony cabin if you value peace and quiet in the morning and your ship is scheduled to do a maiden call to a port. We were woken up a few minutes past 6:00 by an absolute racket. I think the whole population of Subic Bay and the neighbouring towns had come out to welcome the ship. There were various dance troupes and bands and every group was playing or had their own music and all of this was competing with each other. If they had taken turns, it would have been delightful. As it was, to quote Mary Poppins, "the sound of it is something quite atrocious.” At least some of it was quite interesting to watch. Graham spent some time on the balcony, but I headed back to bed and read for a bit. Once Graham had enough, we got ready and then headed down to the Royal Esplanade for some coffee and pastries. We both had a raspberry pastry and vanilla pastry. We were in no rush to go anywhere so we headed for the Schooner Bar for morning trivia. This was a visual trivia about cities. We had been to most of them, which helped. We got a couple wrong, but still got enough to win the trivia. We got some keychains. We took those back to the cabin and picked up what we needed for the day.

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    Our plan had been to head to a beach that is a short walk from the port where we were supposed to dock for some snorkelling. However, the area did not look right, and it turned out that we were docked at a different port than the one we were listed for. The other port was only a short taxi ride away, but we had no local cash. So, we needed to find an ATM first. Just outside the port was a 7-Eleven and this is usually a good bet for an ATM. Unfortunately, not in the Philippines. There were shuttle busses advertised to various shopping malls and we figured that this would be a good starting point. We waited for a bit and eventually a shuttle appeared, but there were many more people waiting than the bus could take. We decided to get walking. Right by the port was a park area where the locals had set up a market and this was pretty nice. Once we were out of the immediate port area, we came to another park and this was very run down and seriously depressing. The majority of Subic Bay was like this. Eventually we came to an outlet mall, but this was essentially a run-down strip mall and there was no ATM there either. Just as we approached the mall, we got a heavy shower through and at least we were under cover. Once the rain started to ease off, we continued walking. We came across a historical fort and saw some interesting birds and that was about all the place had going for it. I was quite amused when I saw a sign stating that Subic Bay Freeport is the best in Asia. I have been to a number of free ports in Asia including Hong Kong, Shanghai, parts of Dubai, Nagasaki and Aqaba and I would put every one of them miles ahead of Subic Bay. Still, there is nothing wrong about a bit of healthy self-confidence.

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    We got to the outskirts of Subic Bay and still had not found an ATM. We decided to push on to Olongapo City. This sounds more impressive then it is. There is a footpath of about half a mile which divides Subic Bay from Olongapo City. Unfortunately, that footpath is lined with beggars. As soon as we entered Olongapo City, we found a shopping mall with ATMs. We got some cash and then we went exploring. There were some heavy clouds around and the beach somehow no longer appealed. We saw plenty of tuk tuks and were amused by just how many people could fit into them. They were tiny and even for a couple they would be “cosy”, but we saw as many as 8 people getting out of some. We also saw our first Jeepneys, which is the most common form of public transport in the Philippines. Even though Olongapo City did not exactly inspire us either, we decided to go exploring. I figured there must be something worth seeing. Well, if there is, we never found it. The whole area just looked run-down. We got caught out by another downpour and huddled underneath an archway. A security guard approached us, and I thought he had come to move us along, but he offered us shelter in the porch of the building that the archway was the entrance to and even found a bench somewhere that he carried into the porch so that we could sit down. The building turned out to be the local benefits office and there was a chart on the wall behind us, which gave us plenty of food for thought. Essentially this area of the Philippines is as poor as it gets. There is a staggering amount of people living in the area that do not have access to sanitation services or clean water.

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    Once the rain slowed down, we left and headed back to the shopping mall. About halfway there, another downpour started. We got pretty wet. We took shelter in the shopping mall when we got there. We were hoping that they were offering a shuttle back to the port, but this was not the case. We waited for a bit and then headed outside. There was a roof in this area, so we were still under cover. I spotted a taxi pulling up to the adjacent street corner and we flagged this down. We were only out in the open for a few feet, but we got soaked through. The taxi driver took us back to the port. A boat would have been a more sensible mode of transportation. We drove through some very deep water. When we had left the port about 2.5 hours earlier there was not as much as a puddle there and now in some areas, the water was knee-deep. Even where the water was shallow, it came about halfway up my calves. I have never seen anything like this.

    We were glad when we were back on the ship. We headed to the cabin to get showered and changed. The warm shower felt heavenly as did the dry clothes. We then headed up to the Windjammer for some lunch. Our server was on duty there and came over to say “hi”. I brought us some drinks. It was meatloaf day that day and I had some of this plus a hotdog, spaghetti Bolognese and fries. It was definitely a comfort food kind of day. Graham had salad with cold cuts and some fries. I tried a different kind of green tea cake for dessert, but again it was lacking the green tea flavour. However, the chocolate cake was very nice.

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    We went back to the cabin to pick up some odds and ends and then we headed up to the solarium. The weather was still foul. We decided that if it was as bad the next day, we would just stay on the ship. This nearly broke my heart as I really had looked forward to visiting Manila, but neither of us felt inclined to get this wet again. We spent most of the afternoon chilling out and I read for quite a bit of it. Just before 17:00, we headed down to the Schooner Bar for evening trivia. This was a general knowledge trivia and we managed to win again. Our price was a magnet.

    After trivia, we went back to the cabin to get changed. Graham had a little downtime and I went downstairs to get some photos. They were not quite ready yet, so I went to the Two70 to sit down. I really liked the projection mapping on the windows. A little while later, I did the round of the photo opportunities.

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    I then went back to the cabin to get Graham and we headed for dinner. Graham had a grilled prawn and arugula salad with pickled peppers, fennel, pears, crumbled feta cheese and a lemon oregano dressing. I went back to my favourite and had the crispy pork belly with parsnip puree, apple slaw and port wine reduction. Graham had the Sichuan style salmon with rice and vegetables for his main course. I had the grilled Sirloin steak with truffle potato purée, asparagus and Bordelaise sauce. For dessert, Graham had the Creme Brûlée. That is normally the real test for cruise line desserts and this passed muster. I had the Royal Signature Chocolate Cake with layers of dulce de leche and chocolate fudge. I was a little disappointed with this. Normally the chocolate desserts are a safe bet, but this was not particularly nice. It was just too sweet.

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    After dinner, we headed back to the cabin. We checked out the Daily Compass and I read for a while and then we had another early night.
     
  8. petals

    petals Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!

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    Sorry your day was a bit of a wash out hope the bad weather didn't continue
     
  9. Flossbolna

    Flossbolna Sea days are just so relaxing!

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    Wow! That rain sounds awful!! I am still here reading along, but am so crazy busy at work right now, that’s why I am commenting so little. Sorry!!

    I think you looked fantastic in your black dress and I really love the short hair!
     
  10. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    We did see some more rain, but fortunately we got lucky for most of the rest of the holiday.

    It was quite something.

    I absolutely understand. I am not making as much progress with this as I would like either as I am so busy at work. I am quietly optimistic that I get this finished by the time I am leaving for the next trip.

    Thanks.

    This was actually quite a bit longer than it had been the previous 12 months and is shorter again now. I do really like it this way.

    Corinna
     
  11. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Day 8

    We were awake quite early again and it did not look too promising outside. We decided to get up and get some breakfast and then make the decision whether or not we should venture out. I was not particularly hungry, but had some juice and milk. I also decided to give the steamed pork buns another go. It turned out that they were not mislabelled, but really were awful. I had the dough and left the filling. Graham had a cooked breakfast with scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and vegetable fried rice. After breakfast, we went up to deck 15 to check out the weather situation. It did not look particularly promising, but it was not raining at the time, so we decided to go back to the cabin to get what we needed to go exploring and then we headed out.

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    When we had got off the ship, there was a shower passing through. We dodged this as best we could and made it to the terminal without getting too wet. We waited for a bit and once the rain was easing off, we left. There was a bit of light drizzle, but this did not bother us. It did not take long to walk from the port to the places we had mapped out. The first sign that we were where we wanted to be was a monument, which separates the port area from the Intramuros, the historical walled city. We ended up walking past Rizal park, which had been high on our to do list when we planned what we wanted to do in Manila. However, this was not very appealing in the wet.

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    Instead we pushed on to the Intramuros. The Intramuros dates back to the last quarter of the 16th century and is the oldest part of Manila. It is quite small covering only 0.26 sq. miles, but it is packed with historical buildings. This is definitely my kind of place with windy streets and interesting architecture. It did not take long until our wander took us to Plaza de Roma, which is considered to be the centre of the Intramuros. There are all manner of interesting buildings in this area, but the two that stand out are Palace of the Governor and Manila cathedral. The building that stands there now is actually fairly recent and was built in 1976. It is still impressive. It houses various government departments. The site of the present building was where the former residence of the Governor-General during the Spanish Colonial Era was located until an earthquake destroyed it in 1863. We took some photos and then we went inside the cathedral.

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    There has been a church in this location since 1571 and its status was elevated to a cathedral in 1579. I say a church has been in this location since 1571 as I don’t think there is any other church in the world that was destroyed and rebuilt quite so often. The first cathedral was made from wood, mangrove and bamboo. The second cathedral was made from stone in 1592 only to be destroyed by an earthquake 8 years later. This was also the fate of the 3rd and 4th cathedral. The 7th cathedral was severely damaged in an earthquake and lost its tower. However, it was ultimately destroyed in 1945 during the Second World War. The present incarnation was built between 1954 and 1958 and had major renovations between 2012 and 2014. Even though the church was built so recently, it is a very impressive building and looks much older. The chapels on the righthand side of the cathedral are taken up with an exhibition about the history of the cathedral, which is very interesting.

    However, it took a fair while after entering the cathedral until we could get there. We got tangled up with a wedding. Apparently, June is the most common month for weddings in the Philippines. It was something amazing to witness. This was a huge affair and the wedding party seemed to be colour-coded. The family of the groom seemed to be dressed in green and the family of the bride in peach. Apparently it is customary for the groom to arrive an hour ahead of the ceremony to receive the guests. When we got there, the groom and what was probably the immediate family were already there. Other guests arrived and took their seats, but the immediate family remained near the entrance. When I say immediate family, we are talking around 50 people. The poor groom seemed to be so nervous. There was a procession down the aisles of the groom and his family, the bride’s family, the bride’s maids and finally the bride appeared and finished off the procession. This was the most involved wedding I ever witnessed. Once the whole wedding party was in place, we were then allowed to explore the cathedral. We had a look around the exhibition and some of the chapels on the other side and then we left.

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    There is another church in the Intramuros that I really wanted to see. San Agustín Church is the oldest stone church in the Philippines and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church is about 400 years old and has survived the earthquakes that destroyed multiple incarnations of the nearby cathedral as well as heavy bombing during World War II. The entrances of the church are guarded by 4 Chinese guardian lions and legend has that they are the reason the church was never destroyed. I had seen photos of this church before we went, and it is absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, just as we got there, they were locking up for a break. We were told that they would reopen an hour later so we decided to come back then.

    Graham needed the bathroom and opposite was a building that looked like it may provide. Actually, it was not just a building, but a courtyard surrounded by various buildings housing a museum as well as restaurants and cafes and indeed, public restrooms. This is a real gem. The courtyard reminded me of the Court of Angels at Disneyland. If you were lucky enough to visit Disneyland prior to 2013 or have been even luckier to visit Club 33 since, you can probably see what I mean. I was in heaven. I loved this whole area. Unfortunately, it had started to rain again, and we still had plenty of time to kill. Fortunately, there was a Starbucks nearby that provided shelter and some welcome refreshments. I have a new favourite drink. They had a pistachio cream Frappuccino, which was absolutely delicious. Graham went with tried and tested and had a white mocha Frappuccino. Both of our drinks hit the spot.

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    Once we had finished our drinks, we walked back towards San Agustín Church. We got about halfway, when the heavens opened again. When we got there, quite a few people were already waiting. The staff had sympathy with us and let us into the foyer a little early. At that point we did not think anything was strange. However, soon cashiers appeared. Somebody asked about how to get into the church and was advised that this was the entrance for the museum, which was about to reopen. The church was not due to reopen until 17:00 by which time we had to be back on the ship. Graham asked if I wanted to have a look at the museum, but it was the church I wanted to see. We headed out to find a taxi back to the port. We crossed the road and huddled in an archway. We did not have long to wait until a taxi came past. The driver was very friendly and told us all kinds of things about Manila and landmarks we passed. The taxi ride was also an absolute bargain. I think we paid the equivalent of a couple of Pounds for a 15-minute taxi ride. We ended up giving all the Philippine Pesos we still had to the driver. This may well the biggest tip he has ever seen, but we had no use for the money and he did do a great job.

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    Even though things had not gone quite according to plan and the weather was less than ideal, we both enjoyed what we managed to see of Manila. If I never return to Subic Bay, I will have been there once too often. However, I definitely want to go back to Manila. I think I could happily spend two very full days at the Intramuros alone and there is so much more to see. This definitely somewhere we need to return to.
     
  12. dolphingirl47

    dolphingirl47 In Search of the Tag Fairy

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    Once we were back on the ship, we went back to the cabin to drop off our raincoats and a few other odds and ends. There was a trivia coming up that I really wanted to do. However, we also needed to do something about lunch. In the end we decided grab a couple of slices of pizza to tied us over and then have lunch after the trivia. I head a slice of Margarita pizza and a slice of Hawaiian pizza. Graham had a slice of slice of Margarita pizza and a slice of Pepperoni pizza. When we had finished this, we went upstairs to the Schooner Bar for the trivia.

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    The trivia was listed in the Daily Compass as logo trivia. I am not necessarily any good at this as a rule, but I do enjoy this. However, I was absolutely delighted when the theme for the logo trivia was revealed. It was all about airline logos and this is something I am good at. We got a couple wrong, but still managed to win and got some highlighters for our troubles.


    After the trivia, we went to get some lunch at the Windjammer. Graham carried on his healthy trend and had salad and cold cuts. I had some soup noodles and some steak fries with a Mediterranean beef casserole. I had a slice of pound cake and a mini cupcake for dessert. After lunch we went to the solarium to relax for a bit. I got going again shortly after 16:00 as there were a couple of character meet and greets that I wanted to attend. Both Po and Tigress from Kung Fu Panda were due to be out. I had developed a bit of a soft spot for Tigress on our first cruise on Ovation and was quite disappointed when she was not on Quantum last year. I had an amazing interaction with Tigress. Meeting Po was fun, too, but not as amazing as meeting Tigress.

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    I had arranged to meet with Graham at the Schooner Bar for this afternoon’s trivia, which was Tri-Bond Trivia. I tried this once on one of the Disney ships, but did not do very well at this. However, this time I had reinforcements and it neatly fitted in the day. Graham was already waiting for me when I got there. We still had a little bit of time until the trivia was about to start and decided to get a drink. I had the drink of the day, which was again the blue Margarita and Graham had a glass of White Zinfandel. I am not sure if it was the fact that I had reinforcements, the drink, the fact that I have trained my brain plenty recently or that the trivia was easier, but we did OK and ended up winning this. This meant some more keychains for our collection.

    After the trivia, we went to check out the photos. I was happy with both the amount and the quality of the photos and decided that I would probably buy the package. Then we went off to spend some more money. We had gone to the Future Cruise desk earlier in the day, but they were closed. We wanted to book a Baltic cruise for next year. At the time they had an offer including the drinks package and gratuities for a really good price. This was also on the ship we did the Transpacific cruise on last year and we both loved it. We knew that we could get a better deal still by booking onboard. We went and booked this. We got a 20% discount and an on-board credit that had to be spent on this cruise. I would have preferred to have this for the cruise that we booked that day, but it worked out that this paid for the photo package.

    Once we had sorted out the booking, we went back to the cabin to get changed. I then headed out because there was a photo opportunity with King Julien from Madagascar and I wanted to catch this. I arranged to meet Graham outside the Two70 15 minutes later. On the way to see King Julien, I spotted Alex the lion out and about with his escort, so I stopped to say “hi” and his escort took a few photos. Then I pushed on for the professional photo opportunity with Big Julien.

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    When I arrived, Graham was already waiting. They were not quite ready for us yet. The event we were waiting for was the top tier event for Crown and Anchor Society members. Drinks were flowing quite liberally and we both had a couple of glasses of sparkling wine. The cruise director, Captain and hotel director all spoke. The presentation from the hotel director was the most interesting as he concentrated on what the future plans are for Royal Caribbean. Some of which I already knew like the make over their private island Coco Cay is currently getting and the new ships that join the fleet. What definitely interested me is that they are looking to add 6 more private islands to their portfolio and the ones that interest me the most are in Asia and the South Pacific. He also made an announcement that Royal Caribbean will be free of single use plastic by 2020. We then were treated to a special show about Leonardo Da Vinci featuring the robot screens and the projection mapping technology of the Two70. This was the first time Graham has seen this in action. The event was closed with a presentation to the couple with the most cruise points. They were a couple from the UK and it turned out that they came from a place just down the road from where we lived before moving to Manchester. We chatted with them for a while after the event.

    Once we said goodbye to them, we headed up to Coastal Kitchen for dinner. Graham had the Slow Smoked Salmon with pumpernickel, horseradish crème fraÎche and caviar followed by the seared parsley and sesame tuna which came with bok choy and an unidentified vegetable. I had the I had Crispy Pork Belly with parsnip purée, apple slaw and port wine reduction followed by the grilled Sirloin steak with truffle potato purée, asparagus and Bordelaise sauce. We both passed on dessert that night.

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    After dinner we made the rounds of the photo opportunities and then we headed back to the cabin. We checked out the Daily Compass for the following day and then settled down for the night.

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  13. tiggrbaby

    tiggrbaby <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder

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    Sorry you couldn't get into the church! The nice thing about cruises is finding out where you would like to return, and where you have no desire to return.

    Love the peach gown!
     
  14. petals

    petals Irish Princess because Cinderella said so!

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    Love the character photos especially the Kung Fu Panda characters
     

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