Bottle of Wine, fruit of the vine


Leaving San Francisco was magical – the lights of the city and the highway 580 bridge as we sailed out under the Golden Gate, and then them dropping away as we turned south. Very nice.

I wasn’t going to do any walking at all, because of the major walking yesterday, but ended up getting in about 2 or 3 km anyway, just to stretch the legs and be moving. Some of that was out on the promenade deck, some was just wandering around the ship, checking out the various places and sights.

Today was the premium wine tasting, and we got a number of treats but let’s do the wines first – these were available on the ship, but weren’t in the packages offered – they were a step over the quality that we had in the last tasting. We had, again, two reds and two whites: a 2011 Laroche Chablis, Premium Cru, from France; a 2012 Errazuriz Late Harvest Savuignon Blanc from Chile, a 2012 Decoy Merlot from California and a 2009 Col Solare from Washington State.

Laroche Chablis

The Chablis, in case you forgot, is a region in France, south east of Paris. The grape is a chardonnay grape and the area is cool, so it doesn’t taste like a typical chardonnay. It’s a light straw colour, greeny on the edges and is usually unoaked (which was true of this one). It had a medium high acidity, which meant that the sides of your tongue and your salivary glands noticed it; a minerally taste typical of European wines, and a delicate, granny smith apple scent and taste to it. Crisp and a lovely long finish. It was dry but very nice. It paired well with the strawberry, and didn’t work so well with the blue cheese or the Gouda we had. A very long finish – minutes long. The wine labeling in France is really complicated, and I don’t completely understand it (okay – I don’t get it at all!) But while the term Premium Cru seems to indicate wine of the top drawer, the best of the best – it’s not, quite. That’s the Grand Cru. Premier Cru is a step below that. Regardless, it was a lovely wine, and I hope we can get a bottle or two at some point.

 

2012 errazuriz late har

The Sauvignon Blanc, in contrast, was from a hot area with intense sun, and was a late harvest, so the sugars were full, and the flavours well developed. The colour was a medium intense yellow and it was a very sweet, syrupy taste, but I liked it – it also had some minty odours and flavours to offset the sweetness a bit. It worked beautifully with the blue cheese they had (sorry, they didn’t say what the blue was – it wasn’t as strong as a Roquefort, that was for sure, but that’s all I could tell) but apparently, late harvest grapes do that – they tend to balance the fattier types of cheese nicely (this is one of the reasons I’m so impressed with Cecilia – she gives good general tips like this). The acid was well balanced, so that the sweetness wasn’t cloying, but the tongue didn’t die of acidity, either.

 

 

decoy merlot

The Decoy Merlot was young – we know this not just because of the fact the year is on the label, but also because the edges of the wine are the same colour as the centre (I remember this from the wine course we took, now that I come to think of it); it was a medium intense ruby colour – I could just barely see my fingers through the wine when I held it up to the white table cloth. The scents were of leather and black/dark berries, but it was the texture that really got me – smooth, silky, rounded on the tongue. It’s a medium body, and it felt like liquid silk in the mouth, or soft, soft water on the skin. Everything balanced beautifully, with a moderate finish.

 

col solare

The Col Solare wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a Malbec. If you’re familiar with wine blends, you’ll recognize the first three as the components of a right bank Bordeaux. However, that’s beside the point (unless, like me, you love right bank Bordeaux.) The wine is from the Col Solare winery, which is a collaboration between the wine legend Piero Antinori and the Washington State Ste. Michelle wine estates. (I’m quoting here – I wouldn’t know any of the wine legends if I tripped over them). Also quoting: the Antinori family is one of the first to have created and marketed the Super Tuscan wines (about which we are apparently going to learn more, later in the cruise – stay tuned). This wine was amazing. A dark ruby colour, very intense, with red meat and peppery odours. Full, full body, velvety in texture and high tannins, but not overpowering. The tongue noticed it but it didn’t dominate in the mouth. It works with date-type fruits and I don’t have any notes about the cheeses it worked with.

Golly, guess we’ll have to get some bottles and check it out with some cheeses when we get home. It’s aged for 22 months in oak, and according to Cecelia, that means it has a “monster” flavour – most wines wouldn’t survive that long in oaken aging barrels, the oak flavours would wipe out the natural wine flavours. Definitely one to try when we get home. And since it ages well, maybe, if the budget will allow it, put some by for a few years!

We sat with two other couples who happened to be from Vancouver, and tomorrow we’ll talk a bit about them, and the weather. Turns out the weather is beginning to be a problem – who knew? Stay tuned. This could get exciting. Or scary.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!


We’ve rambled and wandered and gone further than we thought, then doubled back to the waterfront, enjoying Pier 39 and the seals and Hard Rock Cafe. We finished lunch and got out of the restaurant around 2 pm. Al wanted to check out the submarine and the Liberty ship, so he headed off to those, while I went back to the ship (subs and military/wartime ships don’t interest me at all).

I watched the harbour, which was alive with boats – freight of all sizes, business, police, pleasure, tour and sailboats. I enjoyed the scenery of the bay, which is completely dominated by Alacatraz Island – you just can’t get away from it, and it’s THE major tourist attraction on the waterfront.

I saw at least three different Alcatraz tour companies, and there was prison themed tourist merchandise everywhere, which, for the record, disgusted me. Sorry, but I just don’t feel right about capitalizing on someone else’s misery and from the little I know about Alcatraz, it was a miserable, miserable place. When we come back, I’ll probably do the tour, just because prisons and prison culture interests me, and for possible use in my writing, but buy a tourist thing to say I’d been there? No thanks.

 

Dominates the harbour out of all proportion to its size.

Dominates the harbour out of all proportion to its size.

 

So, I have to say I just don’t understand some things about modern life. While I was enjoying the view and busyness of the harbour, I noticed a police boat zoom by just aft of us. I could see enough to see there were two young ladies, dressed as if for a party, on the boat. I assumed, this being a police boat, they weren’t there to sample wine and hors d’oeurves. The boat disappeared behind the buildings at Pier 39, and I figured they were being offloaded there to be transported to the cop shop. But about 15 minutes or so later, the boat reappeared, young ladies still on board and as free as they’d been before. Go figgur? The boat headed to the opposite shore and I lost track of them in the busyness of the harbour. So, what was up with that? Or do I want to know, even?

The ship was loading right under our cabin, so I watched that – saw our cellar master out there, checking to be sure all the wine was delivered. Apparently there was some mixup in Vancouver and not all the wines ordered got to the ship. So we’ll get our Carmenere after all.

There was a lot of movement on the pier – Forklifts moving huge loaded pallets from hither to yon, stacking them up in a neat line near the open cargo holds, and then moving more pallets around the pier. There was a lot of “put pallet A here, then move pallet B, C, D and E over there, then move Pallet A to Location 4, then move C, D, and E over to location 9, then reverse it all and move everything back to where it was and then do it all again, only the other way this time.”

And are we really going to consume THAT many cigarettes in 17 days? An entire pallet piled taller than a man, all some kind of cigarette (not being up on American brands (or Canadian for that matter, anymore) I have no idea what they were – red and white is as close as I could get). A lot less wine than smokes being loaded on, I noticed. Three pallets of flour (that’s a lot of flour – those were 100 pound or better sacks!) and lots and lots of unidentifiable boxes, crates and loads being lined up to get the stuff on the ship.

Several people were gathered around watching one guy destroying somebody’s vintage Mustang. That was entertaining, at least to all the dock workers assembled. He sat in the car, started the engine, gunned it and we watched as steam and smoke poured out from underneath it and gears ground and squealed and groaned and (probably) sheared. He got out and said, “Gee, sorry about that!” I could hear the grin in the voice from 8 decks up, as he got out, slammed the car door and walked away. Since the car disappeared sometime before sunset and there were no cops showing up to arrest anybody, I assume that nothing really awful happened, but wow!

Getting the big trucks out after they emptied the loads was interesting – it’d back up, somebody would frantically signal a stop while somebody else got the forklift to move the pallets in the way, which were then deposited exactly in the place the truck needed to be next, the truck would do the fill of the first back & fill, then start the back of the second one, then somebody would frantically signal a stop while somebody else got the forklift to move the pallets just moved to a new position, which was, you guessed it, right in the way of the next back in the back and fill. And this was also while the driver was trying very hard NOT to bump any of the other 18 wheelers and trailers that were cluttering up the pier waiting for their turn.

The gulls and other birds didn’t seem to care about all this, and just hung around waiting for food to be dropped:

Birds on the pier

Al got back in good time, but the ship’s departure was delayed. First because the loading was extremely slow (you didn’t figure that out, did you? <g>). We were supposed to be away at 5, but at 4:30 they still had over 90 pallets to load onto the ship, and then because someone was taken ill and had to go by ambulance to the hospital.

By the time the lines were ready to be thrown off, we were back in our stateroom, and watched as a mid-size, brand new sedan drove up to the aft lines. (It was too dark to get any decent photos as this happened). A man and woman in fairly nice evening dress got out, and   thingee holding them. Attached them to the car somehow and backed the car up enough to let them then lift the lines by hand over the top of the “thingee” (I lack the proper term) on the pier. Those ships lines are heavy suckers! Got back in the car, drove up a few feet and unhooked those lines from the pier. Then drove to the bow of the ship, got out, unhooked those lines and then drove off the pier. Very strange, but I guess that’s how they do it here.

It was after sunset before we finally were under weigh, so we didn’t get the photos of approaching and going under the bridge in the evening light, but did get some of the other bridges and the city skyline as we left.

Evening, Coit Tower

The Coit Tower as the sun sets

Sunset in the Bay

   Sunset in the bay, looking west

 

 

The Golden Gate at sunsetGolden gate at sunset with a con trail

The bay at twilight

The bay at twilight

 

 

 

(Late breaking note: the person walked off the ship to the ambulance, so it wasn’t as bad as it might have been – I hope they’re okay.)

A lovely, tiring day, and definitely, some of my heart stayed behind!

We have two days at sea coming up – wine, women and song, blue skys and deep seas, and a tour of the ship.

Of Plants and Seals and Rock (n Roll) and things


So, yesterday we talked about the rambles and the plants. Which were pretty and I didn’t know what they were, and forgot to post the photos I took, so here they are. If you know the name, could you please leave a comment?

P1010595  P1010596

 

P1010599

When we got home – Victoria home, not ship home, I took a look at Google Maps to figure out just where we’d been. We walked through the North Beach area, almost to the Marina district, then along Beach Drive, up Columbus Avenue to Filbert Street, which is where St. Peter and Paul’s is located, right across from a lovely little park: Washington Square Park.

We walked along Filbert to Genoa Place and I waited at that corner while Al walked up to the T intersection at Green Street, which was the top of the hill. The neighbourhood was Telegraph Hill, which if I remember rightly, was a fairly high class neighbourhood back in the day. It still looked pretty high toned. So we didn’t actually “get” to the Coit Tower – we had rambled a bit beyond it.

Then we wandered back to the waterfront and around Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. The sea lions were fun to watch, and a little bit about their history can be read here. They apparently showed up one year and took over some of the wharfs at Fisherman’s Wharf. Between the Marine Mammal society and the Wharf officials, they set aside a number of platforms for the seals  and they now make this a regular stop on their migrations – they also show up at the islands just off our coast (and by our, I mean the small islands just off MacNeil Bay). Lovely to watch, but they stink to high heaven and when they’re visiting BC, they’re the noisiest set of animals you’d ever wish to meet. But they’re still gorgeous and worth spending time just watching.

The shops at Pier 39 were good – Al found Houdini’s Magic Shop to putter in and the proprietor was more than happy to chat with him and do tricks for him and a couple of other magic fans.

Photo from the internet, not taken by us.

Photo from the internet, not taken by us.

I found it too hot and humid in the store, even though it was interesting – he had ventriloquist dummies, which I’ve never seen for sale before. Not sure why they’d be in a magic shop (I guess it is a kind of magic, but . . .) so went and sat outside to wait for him, where there was a lovely cool breeze, a crepe take out cookery (which was decidedly interesting, since breakfast had been five hours before) and a pigeon who decided my foot was a safe haven since it didn’t move (the foot, not the pigeon). Poor thing was injured – missing two toes on his right foot and limping on the left. He started about 5 feet from me, but every time someone went by, he’d edge closer to my foot, until he was about twelve inches away from it.  I was aiming for him to cuddle right up to my ankle. Then Al came out with his purchases – a book on handkerchief magic – and scared him off.

Again, from the internet - pier 39 website. Photo is taken from just where I sat.

Again, from the internet – pier 39 website. Photo is taken from just where I sat.

Crepes just didn’t seem like they’d be enough (although we could have had a crepe appetizer, main course and dessert, which probably would have been more than sufficient), but for some reason just didn’t appeal. We went off in search of something more substantial and less elevated (the food on board is what we’d consider fine dining – hamburgers are not on the menu).  Hard Rock Café seemed to be the place to go.  One of those “we’re being tourists so let’s do something touristy” that we’d probably never do at home, even if there was one in Victoria (which I’m kind of glad there’s not, really.)

Great place – good atmosphere (hey, a Van Halen guitar, a portrait of Janis Joplin looking almost demure – that got two and three looks from me – JJ, demure?) and one of Beyonce’s performing costumes – gold fabric in a halter and short skirt among lots and lot of other memorabilia. Lots of great music, and a good mix of older and newer stuff. Too many video screens to suit me. An amazing waiter – he was supposed to go on break halfway through our lunch, he brought the replacement around and introduced us, but didn’t leave us until we were finished and had the bill. Never let our glasses get empty, even though it was only lemon water, and made sure we had everything we wanted – kept checking back unobtrusively for us. Matthew. Great guy. The food was okay. The place is definitely geared to service and atmosphere, not to quality of food. I had the basic burger with added bacon and cheese. Lots of fries, and good sized patty, fresh lettuce and tomato. The bacon was crispy (which isn’t my preference – at least not that crispy!) but their cheddar wasn’t Canadian – not a bad thing, but it wasn’t up to Canadian cheddar standards. The patty was medium well done, but blander than I’m used to, and the bun was definitely average, not a superior bread product. It was palatable, enjoyable and very middle of the road. It’s a great for a tourist, or for a funky atmosphere and fun, but not for a really nice hamburger.

After lunch we split up. Al visited a submarine (sorry Joe, you’ll have to talk to him about the sub) while I had vicarious adventures on the deck of our stateroom. More about that tomorrow.

I left my heart in San Francisco!


A piece of it definitely. We want to come back and spend time exploring – days exploring.

I woke up at 6:30 and set out for my morning walk on the Promenade deck by 7 am. But as I stepped out on deck and headed to the bow of the ship, I could see the Golden Gate dead ahead,

Coming toward the Golden Gate, into the bay.

Coming toward the Golden Gate, into the bay.

and we were going right under it. Since we were going to be off the ship, walking for most of the day, I didn’t hesitate – back to the stateroom and grabbed the camera.

We cleared the bridge, but it wasn't by a whole lot.

We cleared the bridge, but it wasn’t by a whole lot.

Al was still asleep, so I left him, since I knew we’d be heading out at sunset and he’d see it at the other end of the day. I headed up to the observation deck at the top of the ship. There were a lot of other people who had the same idea, but there was lots of room, both inside, at the windows and outside at the very top of the ship.

 

Foggy, rainy day - typical of San Francisco. Felt right at home for some reason!

Foggy, rainy day – typical of San Francisco. Felt right at home for some reason!

It was overcast and really humid when we started out, as you can see from the photos – when we first approached the Golden Gate bridge, it was raining, but the sun was already trying to break through.

Hope for a sunny day!

Hope for a sunny day!

When the ship was pulling into the pier at about 7:30, I went back to the cabin. Al was awake and up, so we got breakfast and headed off the ship as fast as we could – about 8:30 am was when we hit the ground.

 

The view from our deck at the ship's berth

The view from our deck at the ship’s berth

By the time we docked, the rain had stopped. The overcast was nice, but the humidity took some of the pleasure out of the walk, but the fact of being in SF and liking what I saw more than compensated for the less than perfect weather.

At our berth

At our berth

We’re berthed at Pier 27 – brand new and right downtown, so it was a lovely walk along the waterfront, past Pier 39 (fisherman’s wharf), to the swimming beach (and by that time, with the humidity, I was ready to jump in too), and the Ghiradelli Chocolate factory, which is now a mall and a small chocolate factory, not the big production it was in years gone by. No, we didn’t stop to buy any: not gaining weight, remember?

By the time we headed more inland (not by much, just a couple of streets) and rambled, it was clearing up and by the time we had climbed to St. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church and were suitably impressed, it was bright, hot sunny and much, much drier.

We rambled some more, up toward the Coit Tower. Al climbed the last hill to actually get up to it – my knees took one look at the slope and threatened to head back to the ship without me, so I rested and got some photos of some interesting plants.

As it turned out, we hadn’t targeted right (we weren’t aiming for it, really, but sort of were), but tomorrow will reveal just where our rambling took us.

Wine loosens the tongue, sometimes!


So yesterday we talked about wine and today it’s about our table mates. We had four people who shared our table for the tasting – our age or somewhat older. It’s hard for me to judge ages. Everybody I look at who is my age looks like my parents’ ages when they were this old, so I see “older people” and tend to forget that I, too, am one of those “older people”.

The couple sitting next to us were from Detroit, and the couple next to them were from Toronto area. Interestingly the Toronto man was interested in talking about the area right up until I said that I grew up there, then suddenly decided it would be more interesting to tell stories about drinking in Detroit and Chicago when he was younger.

Toronto Skyline from the internet

Toronto Skyline from the internet

I don’t think any of them knew what to make of us – me in particular. Al just listens and tastes and thinks and makes comments about what he’s tasted. I wrote stuff down on the sheets of paper that identified the wines, and that seemed to make people uneasy. I think they were there just to taste and drink and socialize.

The couple from Toronto were so taken aback by this that they didn’t even try to talk to us, either during the tasting or after (it was kind of distracting. He didn’t actually talk over the cellar master’s presentation, but he was more interested in telling stories than in tasting the wine and thinking about it, I think.) He liked telling stories about drinking trips to Detroit in his younger days, and finding locations in common with the Detroit couple.

 

Detroit skyline from the internet

Detroit skyline from the internet

The Toronto couple left right at the end, but the others, the ones from Detroit were friendlier and we sat and chatted with them for a long time – Al and the man in particular seemed to hit it off. We closed the restaurant down, and Jay and Ronaldo had to shoo us out so the staff could prepare the dining room for dinner.

The walking crowds had diminished significantly this morning – there were people out there, but no where near as many as yesterday. But when we went out for a mid-morning walk, there were a number of people on deck, not just strolling, but getting their exercise in – jogging, running, brisk walking. Three women, in their 30s and 40s were amusing. They were going opposite our direction, so we got to watch them as we passed them on each side of the ship. One was obviously a semi-regular jogger and she was determined that she and her friends were not going to let the food get the better of their figures – she wasn’t pushing it hard, but was jogging. It was clear that her companions were there under duress. And weren’t used to this! By the third circuit, they were red faced, panting and looking as if they would rather be doing almost anything else. But they kept at it – they were still walking briskly around when we finished our 5 laps. Added to my early morning walk, that gave me almost 4 miles, and I got the rest later in the day, walking to and from the Vista Lounge, which is at the front of the ship, as far from our stateroom as it’s possible to get.

 

Victoria from the internet

Victoria from the internet

Tomorrow – San Fransicso! Whoot! We didn’t sign up for any excursions, but I want to get off and wander around some amount. How can we not? I just hope we’re up in time to see the Golden Gate Bridge – we dock at 8 am.

Red, Red wine, go to my head!


Well, not so much, but it seems that this is going to be a very winey (but hopefully not whiney) trip. The quality is good to excellent, the cellar master knows, as far as I can tell (I know just enough to be dangerous) her stuff, and she’s encouraging the wine stewards (on land, we’d call them sommeliers) to learn and increase their skills.

The wine tastings are scheduled for our days at sea, I guess to get more people out for them. The purpose is two fold – educate the guests so they know what they’re getting, but also, of course, to sell wine. Today’s tasting was both about pairing food and wine, but also to give a taste of their package choices to the guests. Since we’d already chosen our package and were happy with it, we went to learn.

We had four wines to taste: two reds, the Bourdeaux from our package, and a 2011 Wente Beyer Ranch Zinfandel from the premium Admiral package and two whites, the one from the Navigator package, a 2014 Piedra Negra Torrontes from Argentina (where the cellar master is from) and a 2012 Grace Lane Columbia Valley Washington State Riesling. All very nice on the palate. But the real secret for us was learning more about pairing wines with food, and here’s where Cecilia shone, because she gave really good general tips.

The Torrontes and the Bourdeaux were from the package we chose, and we’d already tasted the Bourdeaux, but I’ll include the notes here anyway.

A very nice, fruity slightly flowery white.

A very nice, fruity slightly flowery white.

 

The 2014 Piedra Negra Torrontes, from Agentina. It’s a clear, bright pale straw – almost no colour, really. You have to look hard to see the pale yellow tinge to it. I thought I smelled roses, which the Cellar Master described as floral, so there we go. My nose is recovering! <g> There are flowery notes as well as some hints of lime in the taste, it’s got a longis finish and a bitter aftertaste, which is apparently typical of the Torrontes. We both liked it and we both want to have it again. It works with ginger and shusi type dishes, so Chinese and Asian food that stress ginger would work with it. It also works well with strawberry.

Sweetish, good with Asian spicy food.

Sweetish, good with Asian spicy food.

The Riesling was also pale, but not as washed out as the Torrontes. It was sweetish, not dry, and had an alkaline/citrisy taste to it. It works with spicy Asian food, and didn’t work with the cheeses as well, especially the cheddar.

bouteilles-chateau-3tours

The Bourdeaux was a medium ruby with pepper tastes, high tannins (it really needs to breathe some amount before drinking), and is moderately strong in the tannins. It didn’t register as very acidic. Cecilia recommended it to go with high protein foods, like steaks and roasts, but it didn’t do too well with the prime rib I had the other night – so maybe with steak. (Note on arriving home – I bought this wine a few years ago as a guest gift when I had dinner at a friend’s house, and loved it, but didn’t remember the name. I remembered it because of the label, which is how I remember most wines. So glad I’ve found it again and can now track it down here at home!)

wente beyer zinfan

The Zinfandel was a pale red – I’d have called it a ruby shading toward garnet, with peppery, leathery and dark smoky notes on the nose. It’s a bit flowery on the tongue and Cecilia noted it’s not as jammy as most Zinfandels. It has a soft, peppery, spicy flavour with moderate to light tannins. Light to medium bodied, which I don’t usually like, but this was nice. It didn’t work with cheddar at all, but should work with fish and duck, we were told.

A nice experience all round, making me glad we have a cellar master who knows what she’s doing – these wines are much better than the one we had on our very first cruise – I don’t remember even what it was, other than a red, but harsh and acidic and really high tannins. So definitely an improvement here!

We didn’t sit by ourselves, but I’ll save the commentary on the rest of the day and our tasting mates until tomorrow.

A New Perspective on an old acquaintance


I was up early – dressed and out the door by 7:10. I had my iPod and my earphones and it was lovely – sun was just coming up, and I could see the lights of the fishing boats further out to sea. Our stateroom is on the starboard (right) side of the ship, which means we get to look at miles and miles of ocean, since heading south, that’s the side that is facing away from the land. We’re on Deck 8, high up, so I take the elevator down to the promenade deck and walk out the door that’s right there, turn left and head toward the bow (front) of the ship. Then walk around and around and around, trying to remember how many circuits I’ve made. Knowing how fast I walk helps, as long as I remember to check the time as I begin my circuit.

Walked at a moderate pace and for about twenty minutes shared the entire promenade deck with one other person who was just ahead of me. That was wonderful. Then, at 7:30, people started appearing. It was obviously a case of everybody determined to not gain weight on this voyage. We needed lanes and stop signs and traffic cops to direct the crowds! Some walked clockwise, most walked counter clockwise and it got hairy sometimes with some of us booting it, some running, some jogging, some strolling and some determined to stop in the middle of the deck and take photos (of what I’m not sure – it was nothing but ocean, and the sun was on the other side of the ship!). Just before most of the crowd showed up, I found a bird – swallow sized, huddled by the bow bulkhead. Picked him/her up but it was just stunned and fluttered out of my hands back to the deck, so herded it out of the way of traffic. When I came back around it had gone, so I’m hoping it flew off and could find its way back to land – it wasn’t a water bird at all. Brown with a greyish beige belly and chest – long wings that crossed on its back and a seed or insect eating bill. I suspect a swallow, but it was the wrong colour – brown, not blue and slate grey.

I got half my hour’s walk in (6 laps) then we went for breakfast, then did 3 more laps. We saw whale spume on this round, as did a number of other passengers who were out walking. They were too far away to get photos of – the blows we saw were almost on the horizon, but that didn’t stop people from trying.

We got into Astoria at noon. Astoria actually isn’t the attraction for me. I drive through it every year on my way to the Orthodox writer’s week at the beach, and I usually drive over the massive bridge at the mouth of the river. THAT’S what excited me, the idea of going under the same bridge I drive over each summer and seeing part of my route from a different perspective. (Yeah, okay, I’m weird – we know that.)

 

Big Bridge, long trip on it.

Big Bridge, long trip on it.

Except we didn’t pass under the bridge. Astoria obviously hasn’t been in cruise tourism long, because we tethered at an industrial pier immediately before the bridge that was normally used to load logs and fish. Bird watching was the order of the day. We didn’t go ashore. For one thing, it would be a walk through an ugly industrial area to get to the town, and for another, we’d have to navigate, on foot, the bridge ramps where they flow into highway 101 and 30. Not something that attracted either of us. And finally, there’s just not that much to do in Astoria (I thought – turned out they were having a beer festival. Given the state of some of the passengers when they boarded after the afternoon in town, I’m kind of glad I didn’t go.)

 

Fish Cannery - gulls were gathered in their hundreds

Fish Cannery – gulls were gathered in their hundreds

That’s the area, above, where we were docked.

We got our correct table at dinner, met our new wine steward and waiters (yes, we get two waiters: a waiter and an assistant.) But Renaldo didn’t forget us – he stopped and chatted with us and introduced us to Jay, the new wine guy. Like Renaldo, Jay’s from Manila, in the Philippines. Both really nice men.

The ship left the port at 6 pm and by the time dinner was finished, we were pretty much out at sea again. Got lots of work done – I’ve started a new story, a midgrade, and was poking around at the Akathist some amount, and got the last of my 4 miles walking finished. Actually, with the amount of walking you can do on the ship, getting from one thing to another, you can easily put on a couple of miles a day with no trouble.

Al was busy with his work – he’s programming a board game for computer, and cleaning up his programming toolbox.

And this was just an interesting light pattern on the ship docked ahead of us:

P1010556

Tomorrow is an at sea day and we learn about some wines.