Saturday, 19 November 2011

Woodhaven Park

The walk from Rebecca’s house to the underground is all downhill. To make things even easier than that, Wyona and I have downsized our luggage since the first cruise, but remember we left for 59 days – which is a lot of luggage to get into 2 suitcases.  And we are in every kind of weather – London winter and the heat of the November Mediterranean. The major downsizing occurred when trying to leave Barcelona last time.  You can check on-line if you have extra baggage and it costs $50 for that second piece. Since we didn’t do that, we were going to be charged by the pound for that suitcase:  $300. No matter how Wyona tried to negotiate, the price was firm.  We took our luggage close to a garbage can and began to divest ourselves of anything that seemed superfluous:  pocket-sized hand lotions, back-up shoes in case our first pair of walking shoes got wet, previous papers reminding us of where we had been.  And if the items were heavy and small they went to our handbags.  Wyona, who is good at estimating weight, said she was sure her handbag weighed 35 pounds at that point, but they don’t weigh those.  Then back we went to pay for the extra suitcase which was now down to $158 – a lesson learned.  The agent had to give just one last warning to her, saying, your carrying ons are also the wrong size.  In Europe we have smaller restrictions and we don’t honour the North American Standards, he said.  Suitably chastised we will make sure neither of those mistakes happen again.  Too costly.    

This is our first time on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. Thirty-eight hundred people were trying to get on the ship at the same time, which is doable if the boat’s computers have not gone down.  If so, then there is a two block line-up outside of the terminal, after which there is a line that snakes for 18 columns back and forth before it turns a corner and that that crowd of people is out of sight.  No end to it.  The serpenting row leads you past the same people, line after line, until you know them well: which ones are carrying their formal clothes over their arms so as not to have them wrinkled, which couples have dressed to the nines just for the getting onboard experience, and which groups have come, either as family or friends.  And I saw one hideous scarf so many times that it began to look beautiful to me.  Greg says that the British are good at cuing, that they line up and then are jocular as they wait for their turn at the final counter.  He is right.  They make their standard jokes with each other. I keep falling behind in the cue.  I do not know how I can get 4 people behind in less than a few seconds.  At one point Wyona lifted barrier, told me to duck under and said, please, try to keep up with us.  I will take any chance to get into the race again, so I ducked under the barricade.  But it wasn’t long before someone was pushing past me again. “Please,” I said, to her, “Go ahead, your group must have passed you.”

“Oh, no,” she said, “my group is way back there,” pointing over her shoulder and behind her back. “But I was ahead of you.”  And then a frosty silence.  She must have seen me slip under one of the tapes.

“Be my guest,” I said, “I am slipping back and having trouble keeping up with my sister and brother-in-law who are ahead of me.  If you can find a way to make it to the front of the line, I am going to be your helper, for just keeping up with my group isn’t working for me.”

The line that snaked in one room, then requeued into one long line, ever longer, in the next room. I don’t know how those other old people stood on their feet for 2 ½ hours.  I looked pretty young in comparison to some of them.  One couple we fashionably dressed, not a wrinkle on their clothes, but I said to Wyona, those two over there are going to be nothing more than skeletons if this line takes any longer.

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