Monday, February 23, 2015

Feb 21 – Free Time in Fremantle

First, some corrections:  Fremantle has only hat Jon said that two e’s, not three.  Second, both of us were convinced the old Dutch port area and the Café Batavia in Jakarta were only 5 minutes from where we will dock.  To prove he is reading the blog, he texted that our destination is actually 23 km from the dock which could mean a taxi ride of an hour in Jakarta traffic, possibly the worst in the world.  Now back to our story.

We have rounded the corner, so to speak, and are now on the western coast of Australia [That’s the left side for those of you who are directionally challenged].  We will be here tomorrow as well before sailing to Geraldton and the on to Bali, Indonesia.  Fremantle is a delightful town on its own, but it also serves as a gateway to Perth.

We were in no rush this morning and left the Amsterdam just after 10 to catch the shuttle into town.  It was a short ride on a trolley replica and we were delivered to the town hall right in the middle of the action.  Since it was Saturday, the town was crowded with locals as well as cruisers.  It was a happening place.

We started by walking to the Fremantle Market.  Established in 1897, it is still in the original building.  It was a typical Market with a mixture of produce, prepared foods, eateries, souvenirs and “real” stuff.  While many in the throng were cruise ship passengers, most were locals doing their shopping.  MA bought a new sun hat to replace the HAL bucket hat she has worn for several cruises and we picked up a couple of other things-to-be-revealed-later items for family.

Once we had exhausted the possibilities of the Market, we started walking just to see what we could see.  We soon realized that we were in the area known as the Cappuccino Strip, a very long block of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops.  Many had sidewalk seating and, even though it was only 11:15, there were people eating and drinking and generally having a good time. 

When we finished walking the Strip, we were at a pedestrian shopping area with more tchotchke shops and eateries.  We sat on a park bench in the shade and watched the people while a guitarist sang and played for tips.  On our stroll from the Market, we must have passed at least a half dozen others doing the same thing; in front of the Market itself there was a busker, an entertainer who did tricks and told jokes strictly for tips, much like the performers at Baltimore’s Harbor Place.

Just before noon, we retraced our steps to the Market to have lunch at a “recommended” restaurant opposite the Market.  We sat at a high top outside and ordered fish and chips.  We were surprised when we were told that we could give the waitress our credit card to start a tab or we could pay for lunch at the time we ordered.  We assumed that there had been problems with customers literally running off without paying.  We were very near to the aforementioned busker who was doing his act rather loudly, but we enjoyed watching the world go by.  The fish and chips were too greasy compared to others we have had, but the portions were tremendous.  The Cokes were a perfect accompaniment on a warm day.

After lunch, we returned to the town hall just as the shuttle was pulling up for the return to the ship.  We read until it was Trivia time, read some more and then had round 2, Pub Trivia.  For the record, we beat the other 3 teams who showed up for the first game and were far back in the second.

D tried several times to use the free wifi in the terminal.  It seemed that only people who had an internet connection were crew members talking to their families in Indonesia and the Philippines.  Maybe he will have better luck before bedtime or at 3 am.

There was an Australian BBQ on the Lido tonight, but we decided to eat in the MDR with Ken and Lois at their table since the rest of the regulars there will be elsewhere.  D went up to the Lido just before dinner to scavenge some of the decorations before they were trashed.  We hope that one of our gifts this year is the rolling duffel bags given on other Grand cruises because we will need one just for the junk we have accumulated from HAL, not to mention our purchases.  Speaking of gifts, we returned to the room last night to find two Tumi luggage scales on the bed, the latest pillow gifts.  The boxes indicated that they cost $50, but we are skeptical.  They are good scales, though, and will replace the one which broke when D tried to weigh one of our bags the day we left home.

TOMORROW – More free time in Fremantle

Feb 22 – A Sea Day in Port

We had every intention of returning to Fremantle or even venturing to Perth today, but time and age caught up with us.  We were out of bed way too early, by or standards, so we would be dressed and presentable when we called the children and grandchildren on Skype.  Having given up on the alleged free wi-fi in the terminal, we booted up the computer at 7 a.m. to chat with everyone at dinner time on the East Coast. 

We wasted a little time because neither household answered the “telephone” when it rang.  Finally, we got through to Jon who was home with The Boys while Briton and her friends had a girls’ weekend in our house in Florida.  [We are sure they had a good time despite the 40 degree weather.]  Once again, the connection was spotty, but it was good to almost see and hear the male side of the family.  The Boys had been out of school all week because of snow and cold and did not seem the least bit upset.

Our chat with Emily and Harper was again clearer in both sight and sound.  We watched Harper assert her independence and push her high chair around.  Em told us that HJ will move up to the next level at daycare and will once again be with friends and her cousin Liv [HJ’s BFF].  My, how they grow!

The rest of the day was a blur.  After breakfast, we returned to the cabin and went back to sleep, waking up [or at least getting up] around noon.  We read and played trivia the rest of the day, just like a sea day.

TOMORROW – Geraldton

Feb 23 – An unexpected sea day

We were awakened at 7:15 this morning by the captain apologizing for his decision to cancel our port call on the western edge of Australia.  We had been warned about this possibility yesterday and no one on the ship was surprised.  Geraldton would have been a tender port had we made it that far, but the winds and swell were such that he said he could not safely navigate the channel leading to the town.  As for putting passengers in tenders, that would have been dangerous even if it were possible.  As the captain said, his first responsibility is to keep everyone – passengers and crew – safe.  We had expected to spend our remaining Australian dollars on lunch in Geraldton but will exchange them for rupiah when we arrive in Indonesia.

So we had an unexpected sea day and followed the routine of reading and trivia.

We have had one curve ball thrown at us, however.  The driver who committed to taking us around Bali later this week has not answered emails sent to re-confirm the arrangements.  After D sent 2 messages, he looked in the email history and discovered that he had not heard from this man in a year; there were 2 other unanswered emails in the folder.  Panic struck, but we are hoping our MDR steward Kadek, a Bali native, can find someone for us for Thursday and Friday.  It is going to cost us 3 to 4 times as much on such short notice, but at least we will not spend another 2 days on the ship while it is in port.  Stay tuned for further developments.

We still have 2 more sea days before we arrive in Bali, so we will be relaxed as we enter the busy part of the cruise.

TOMORROW – Another day at sea







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