Monday, March 31, 2014

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua – March 30, 2014

We wake up to the vibration of the anchor dropping.  Bernie heads down to get his tea and we sit out on the balcony to enjoy the view.  It is cooler right now but it seems like it will get very hot later.  The Patter says it will be 34C/93F Sunrise is 5:42 and Sunset is 5:53. 

While sitting on the balcony Bernie spots a pod of whales and we sit out and enjoy the whales as they breach and tease us.  Not many people are up on their balconies.  Probably down have breakfast I am guess.

We are in another tender port and there are a lot of ship’s tours.  We are planning on going ashore in our bathing suits and finding a restaurant and relaxing for the day.

I decide to try breakfast up in the Horizon Court, this time I was smart.  I went to the waffle station and saw that the machine was loaded with fresh waffles so I wait for them to be cooked and take one of them and this way I know they are hot.  They were very good.  I also enjoyed a big plate of fresh fruit.  This trip has had a huge selection of fruit, bananas, watermelon, pineapple, melon, oranges, apples, plums and today I even saw peaches.

We relaxed for a few hours enjoying a coffee on deck five watching the people heading to the dining rooms to get their tender tickets. 

Around 10 am we head ashore and a few minutes earlier they called for open tenders so no tender tickets required.  We have no problem getting on a tender and head up to the top to enjoy the vista and the cooler breezes off the water. 

For this port it would be very difficult to almost impossible for someone with mobility issues to get off the tender onto the dock.  It has steep stairs, there is a ramp but it was very steep and that too would be difficult, so be warned if you have mobility issues you may want to talk to Purser’s desk about options.

Once ashore we are hit with two things, HEAT and sand!  Yup Sand!  The wind picks up the sand when you walk along the beach and whips it at you.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.

There are a few venders with the port area and as soon as you leave the port gate there are numerous other vendors.  There were taxi and guides there offering tours and rides to Granada, etc.  Fares are not on meter so agree to a price before you get in.

We decide to walk along the beach to get cooled off.  Today is Sunday and the beach is full of families who have come down to enjoy the day with their families.  Kids are playing in the water, playing in the sand, playing soccer and enjoying picnics.  It is a lovely sight.

We walk all the way to the end of the bay.  The sand is hot as it is black sand from the volcanos and the beach isn’t that clean.  Sadly there is various types of garbage around.

Doesn’t look that appealing to swim in.  They really should look at coming and cleaning up the beach every day, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority and it doesn’t appear to be in their culture to throw items in the garbage instead of leaving it on the beach.  It was much cleaner at the end of the bay than where we docked. 

The water is lovely and just what we need to cool off.  But as soon as we walk out the wind kicks up and one side is pelted with sand.  It is hard to lay on the beach without getting an exfoliating treatment to one side of your body.  We last only for about 40 minutes before we can’t bear it any more.

We decide to walk out to the street and follow the beach this way.  Nothing really along the road except for homes.  Lots of places you can rent out too.  It is a lovely area, minus the blowing sand.

We walk along the main street and see a cute little restaurant/bar that I believe is called The Howler (after the monkey).  They served freshly made fruit smoothies and so we order up two and a mango quesadilla, which was so good.

We decide to head down a bit further and maybe stop somewhere for a beer along the beach.  We do stop and a large thatched roof restaurant right on the beach.  Bernie orders one of the local beers and I get a margarita and we sit and people watch.  Lovely place and the people are so nice too. 

As we leave the restaurant we decide to walk up the street to the main square and church and wander around a bit.  This place is so tranquil and quite reminiscent of some smaller Mexican towns we have visited.  There are no big name stores, restaurants, shops here.  It is way way laid back with many small stores/restaurants. 

We decide to head back on board so we enter the port area and we check out a few stalls selling items.  We see some lovely belts, the one I was looking it was all embroidered and they are asking $12.  A guy is also looking at it and he offers $10 and she says yes, so I pick it up and say $10 and she nods.  Bernie see a different one that is not as intricate and the other woman says to him it is $14.  When he asks why this is so much more than the one I want she responds, oh that one is $16, this one is $14.  I comment really this woman said $12 and took $10.  Really I said…. And we just walked away.  I don’t mind paying a fair price but I hate when someone is just trying to take advantage.
There is absolutely no line for the tender… Wow what a difference today’s tender operation was compared to all the others.  Today’s was very very smooth.

We are back on board and in the cabin around 3:00 and first thing we need is a shower to try and remove most of this sand. 

Barb and Craig invite us over for a drink for sail away… so nice to have such great friends with us.  We spot more whales as we leave.

Tonight we decided last minute to head to the Crown Grill and Johan is joining us.  We are given a nice booth by the window and Hector is serving us again.  The place is relatively quiet although there are fewer waiters around too.  I believe there are three waiters for the entire place tonight, or maybe two waiters and one assistant and the head waiter.

We enjoy a bottle of Merlot from Tabali winery we went to in Chile… and we are reminded of our great day there.

I ordered the salad to start and it comes and there is too much salad dressing on it.  This ship really seems to enjoy dousing their salads with dressing.  I should of ordered it on the side.  Oh and Bernie also ordered the other salad with the beets and it too had way too much dressing on it.  As I always say “less is more”, I can always add more I can’t always take it away.

I then enjoy the Black and Blue Onion Soup which is great as usual.  For my entrée I have gone back to the fillet mignon and it is served on it’s own and cooked perfectly.
We get garlic fries, spinach and mushroom for our sides.
The garlic fries are once again very plain with very little seasoning, including no noticeable garlic.  I comment about this to Johan and he agrees and wonders what has happened.  The head waiter comes over and brings us a fresh one done the way we normally get it and right away we get a wiff of the garlic.  He comments that the old chef there had gone home and the new one is not making it the same.
For dessert I try the lemon tart and it is very good, but Bernie ordered the chocolate obsession and darn it sure looked good but I am glad I tried the lemon tart.

Sadly service was really lacking I thought.  Often our water glasses were not filled and we often had to pour our own wine.  Plates sat in front of us for longer than normal as waiters rushed passed us to try to accommodate those in the restaurant. 

Overall we have dined here three times this voyage, and three times in Sabatinis and none of the experiences have been that great, good but not great.  Sabatinis seems to have gone downhill, and even when friends with us said they wanted to go back we both declined.  Crown Grill had good food most of the time but service seems to be lacking.  Not that the waiters are not good but there just was not enough of them.  Just not the personalized attentive service we use to get.  Not sure why they didn’t call down another waiter.

After dinner it is relatively quiet everywhere as most people seem to be in a show somewhere.  Jennifer Fair a vocalist is performing in Explorers, she did have a lovely voice.  Chris Bliss a comedian is performing in the Princess Theater. 

We are back in the cabin around 10 pm and we read for a bit before we can’t keep those eyes open any longer.

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