Tag Archives: Matthieu Esnult

Tenerife

IMG_382618 February

Our last port of call, Tenerife; a place we went to once before, in 1997. Ironically, we arrived then on Oriana ( but on that occasion, left on Concorde! ).

Temperature is a good 20C which is good for our last port of call, especially as we have some clear blue sky to start with.

A somewhat later start to our tour of some of the Island’s Gardens, perhaps the other two ships docked in the port today had bagged the earlier slots and somewhat surprisingly, we left without two passengers who failed to turn up.

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Flower on a Aechmea Del Mar plant at the Jardin de Aclimatacion de La Orotava

The coach takes us out of the cruise terminal, turning back on itself at least 3 times before we head over the tram lines and out of the town towards the north of the island on the motorway, climbing steadily to about 2000ft above sea level before dropping down the other side to Puerto de la Cruz.

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Vineyards, housing & Mt Teide

A stop to photograph Mt Teide from above a modern estate, with it’s snow topping and we then descend to our first garden, Jardin de Aclimatacion de La Orotava, a tranquil walled area built in 1791-1795 following a Royal Order issued by King Charles III in August 1788. (€2 entrance)

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Spanish Moss

Lots of interesting plants and trees including some Spanish Moss although some of the lower foliage which was in flower appeared not to be named.

Sadly, we had to go too quickly, perhaps another 30 minutes would have sufficed.

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Unnamed flower at Jardin de Aclimatacion de La Orotava

Onwards to the Jardin Sitio Litre which derives it’s name from a transaction back in 1774 when it was acquired by Mr Archibald Little (thereby the name Little’s place, in Spanish SITIO LITRE).

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Orchid in the Jardin Sitio Litre

The garden is the oldest surviving garden in Tenerife, is now over 240 years old and has been owned continuously by British families since 1730 when the mansion it is attached to was built by Mr John Paisley, a wine merchant from Scotland. The British connection extends to a Croquet lawn in the gardens.

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Dragon tree (with fellow passengers who would not move to allow people to take photos)

Apart from many of the usual plants and trees seen in Tropical Gardens, this does feature a fine assortment of Orchids as well as a Dragon Tree reputed to be over 600 years old. A sample of the local wine was included but it wasn’t of the best quality.

Back on the coach for an immediate left turn up a very steep narrow road to an aquatic garden in a private dwelling open to the public.

The northern area of Tenerife has suffered of late with holiday makers tending to stay on the south.

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Water garden

Some enterprising people have found alternative ways to make money and this is one.

Not really a lot of plants to see (€5 entrance) here although a turkey or black swan held court, a few turtles were sleeping and of course there was a water element.

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Black swan

A nearby waterfall was quite photogenic but a long walk up from the town and sea front below.

Sadly, before we had left the water garden, one woman travelling on her own, fell and badly hurt her knees but fortunately was able to walk back to the bus.

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Waterfalls near Water Garden

Our return drive to the ship was along the same roads that we arrived on.

Our guide today was very passionate about the north of the island but her English was probably not as good as those in the Brazillian Rainforest.

With the ship leaving at 4:30 there was no time to go out to get internet at the cruise terminal so we will have to wait until we are back in the UK on Wednesday or buy a day’s internet for £12.50.

Sail away party on deck, lots of flag waving and singing as we push away from the quayside but as we do a vehicle with “emergencies” comes rushing up and a very distraught person leaps out – he has missed the ship! Not only is this no doubt a disaster for him, it is not good for us as well – he is one of the Entertainers – Matthieu Esnult from The International Duo. That will make tomorrow’s afternoon concert interesting!

Entertainment tonight is a Liverpudlian comedian, James Martin who managed to have everyone in stitches and took the Mickey out of a lot of the front row. Not sure what was on his CD he was selling as he didn’t sing: possibly a load of jokes!

 

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Cape Verde and northwards to Tenerife

IMG_381415 February

We have arrived in a sunny Cape Verde Islands and in particular the town of Mindelo on the island of St Vincent.

We were supposed to get in at 8am but what with the unscheduled stop in the Amazon for fuel which caused us at least an 8 hour delay, the head wind of about 25mph and the continual swell hitting us we were 90 minutes late arriving which was very good going which under the circumstances is pretty remarkable.

 

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Porto Novo on Santo Antao

An early morning sprint on the port side, past the island of Santo Antao with its rugged coastline, barren tall mountainous appearance and the village of Porto Novo stuck by the coast.

 

Roads or more likely tracks wend their way up to the very sparsely populated mountainside, we are too far away to make anything out though.

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Torre de Belem

A Shuttle bus is provided into town through the working dock area and we opt for a leisurely walk along the coast road past a few fishermen, a few guys playing cards, difficult in the wind, towards the sea museum in the Torre de Belem, and a craft square that didn’t really have anything in it.

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Fish guarding by a cat

The fish market nearby had the catches of the day being poured over by locals (with a well trained cat guarding the catch) then headed inland to the blue tiled market area.

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Blue tiles near the market

The wooden souvenirs in the market were claimed to be made by the individual sellers but surprisingly, the same products were generally on sale around the square and later in some of the shops.

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Market stalls

The women’s clothing on sale was very colourful and dramatic but we didn’t see much evidence of them being worn around town by the locals.

A few women were walking along with baskets balanced on their heads and some of the stall holders were hard at work on their sewing machines or chopping up some of the fruit but there were a few pockets of people standing around not doing anything. Not many though.

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Colourful side streets

Back to the sea front and up some side streets past a few squares until we get to the Hotel Prassa 3, a modern hotel with an inside courtyard which was happy to provide us with tall capachinos and free wifi for €1.50 each.

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John & Sally enjoying some rest outside modern hotel

As we had been without wi-fi for over a week, it took some time for the emails to download and I came away with at least a further 29 not yet downloaded from a week ago.

The town has some buildings that are very modern interspersed with some quite old buildings and some that need a lot of TLC.

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Building requiring TLC

From a distance, the houses are generally of the box sort seen in Africa with only a few that have sloping roofs.

Many bright colours have been used as outside wall paint, not everything was white which has given it a different look.

A few beggars were in evidence, all of them elderly as the population is generally quite young but they left you alone if you said “no”.

The island was reputed to be good at producing ukuleles but we saw no music shops and, leaving John & Deirdre to wander further, Sal and I take residence back on board in the shade past a lovely mural.

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Wall mural

An interesting port of call which is being developed more as a tourist destination in recent years.

Entertainment tonight is Jimmy James (without his Vagabonds) and from my position standing at the back – in between doing a final wash – the sound quality was much better than at the front. Think he is not at his best now.

16 February

A sea day on the way up to Tenerife and Entertainment manager, Elaine Coles gives talk on primates of Cameroon, a passion of hers but we miss talk on ships by Ken Vard, and a talk on Atlantic Volcanoes by Ken MacTaggart.  We do however get to the talk by John Lyons, the actor who played a detective, Jack, in A Touch of Frost. No notes, all off the cuff – very good for someone of his age.

There is a tug of war between various departments of the ship at the rear of the ship which usually means some of them getting wet, much to the amusement of the passengers but good news, the sun is out today so there are more bronzed bodies in evidence.

Entertainment tonight is by 3 West End leading ladies, The Patriot Girls who sang items from the Swing era, some modern versions (such as That Man by Caro Emerald) and Jenny Williams, a Stockport female singer with a mixture of classical, musicals and a couple of film songs, a very powerful voice with a bubbly personality.

Tonight is the last time the clocks change – we must be nearly home.

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Awaiting the last passengers before departing Cape Verde

17 February

Another sea day and the entertainment is running out of steam, nothing his morning and only a variety show at 3:30 to keep us away from the cooling temperatures of the North Atlantic as we head towards Tenerife.

No decent entertainment this morning so it is book reading time, Sally finishing her 5th and me, well I have finished the book I got for Christmas 2015 – The Blackest Street by Sarah Wise.

This is about the area of Bethnal Green called the Nichol in the late 1800s with references to the Reverend Loveridge whose photo I found a few years back and who I think, was the vicar who married my Grandparents on my father’s side.

Afternoon entertainment was a variety show with some of the Headliners singers and The Patriot Girls and after a stupid film in the evening, “It had to be you”, we were entertained by the International Piano Duo with as well as some opera songs, performed some lively pieces and an exceptionally long solo by Matthieu Esnult.

Northwards to Tenerife.

Santarem and leaving the Amazon

IMG_36039 February

We are today at Santarem, still 500 miles up the Amazon, where American Confederates fleeing the American Civil War originally settled. Even today, O’Malley and Higgins are common surnames.

A river tour is booked for the afternoon so we have the morning to ourselves as John & Deirdre go on a jungle walk this morning. Thought a walk into town would be good but looking at where we are docked, the distance to town is more like 2 miles rather than the 1 advertised so decide to watch the world go by in the Crow’s nest.

The berth today is in the commercial dock with a Soya conveyer belt in front of us with it’s attendant containers at moor out in the river. We have been told taxis would be limited where we dock – in fact there are several we find out later!

For our tour we exit the ship on the river side onto a pontoon and then onto our river boat like the small ferries that we have seen in the last two ports of call.

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Fishermen at work

Only about 20 or so of us and we are lucky enough to get a front seat as we headed off into the River Tapajos leaving behind the town and we pass more houses on stilts and a number of fishermen.

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Up market house on stilts

 

 

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Our tour guide

We slow down whilst a pod of pink Dolphins attack some fish, some of whom were seen jumping to avoid them.Our guide is a 50 something teacher and his command of English is again very good, he was also from the tribes and came to town to improve himself.

He is proud of his teaching achievements, employing two of his former female pupils as guides on other ships.

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Birds hitching a rid

Sandbanks passed with logs floating downstream giving rides to many birds and more meeting of the waters passed, we head off down another river, noted for pyranah and catfish as well as bird life.

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Catfish catch

Before that we are told that three divers many years ago went down at the waters meet to see what the effect of the two waters were at a lower point never to be seen again. No one has ever dived there again!

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Iguana

Slowly down the river, we stop at the Bankside to spot birds, iguanas, plant life and fish.

One family have a prized possession of a recently caught catfish, an ugly looking fish which is brought on board for us to get up close and personal with.

An adjacent boat on the same tour also stops for viewing.

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Catfish on board

We then pull up on to the bank and are invited to take a fishing line with some meat on the end in the hope we might catch some fish whilst our guide tells us more about the area around us.

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Pyranah fishing in the rain

This is just on cue for the heavens to open and I like a few others get absolutely soaked.

One lady manages to get a piranha and I get a tug and loose my bait but only two other members of the crew manage to catch a pyranah.

Drying out quickly, we set off on our return by some cattle, we are told these are Indian small cattle, as bigger cattle would get bogged down in the wetlands due to their heavy hooves and weight.

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Pyranah fish

Hawks, Vultures and Egrets are spotted high up in the trees and we also manage to spot a Sloth slowly clambering down a tree, very well camouflaged, a bit like how a Koala camouflages itself.

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Sloth

Back to the ship closer into town rather than via the sandbanks we went past earlier, the water becoming choppy as the winds pick up ahead of a rain shower but allowing us some close up views of some fishermen, a dilapidated boat and some youngsters enjoying the “beach”.

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Dilapidated vessel

 

We land on the quay, our only patch of Santarem land we tread on, and with a short walk to the ship, we manage to get inside just before the rains came.

Entertainment tonight is an International duo of pianists, one French (Matthieu Esnult) and one English (Ben Socrates) who play some pieces for four hands – difficult – and a male singer, Gerard Bentall, who sung some “new” songs including Bui Doi which does make a change from the old standards we have heard many singers perform on this cruise – a refreshing change.

10 February

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Saying good bye to the Pilot

Cruising back down the Amazon, we discharge our pilots at Macapa which is the city on the Equator and we cross over to the Northern Hemisphere just before more rain arrives to spoil it for those cruisers who are only here for the sun, and there are a fair number of those.

The talk this morning is on facts about the Amazon delta given by from Bernard Purrier which not only covered wildlife but some interesting facts.

  • The Amazon, 45m years ago, flowed into the Pacific, then the Andes were formed and the flow reversed.
  • It produces 52,000,000 gallons of fresh water into the Atlantic every second
  • It accounts for 20% of the wold’s fresh water
  • The amount of water that goes into the Atlantic in a year would supply New York City with drinking water for 12 years.
  • It can be up to 50 miles wide and as little as 1 mile wide, depending on seasons
  • Water levels are up 20% this year and locals fear a flood which is why some farmers are moving their cattle to higher ground.
  • 100 miles out to sea, river (fresh) water is still evident from the Amazon
  • Pink Dolphins are called Boto and live only in fresh water.
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Macapa

Although we have crossed the Equator, we baulked at watching Neptune’s ceremony in humid but overcast conditions which we understand turned to very heavy rain, instead preferring to join a packed cinema to watch “Girl on a Train” which after about 90 minutes of the 112 made no sense but which in the last 20 or so minutes did manage to make up for the previous minutes.

Certainly the worst day weather wise we have had so far on the cruise.

The entertainer tonight, Jamie Michael Stewart has a strong voice and a lot of experience but there was something about him that didn’t quite gell. It didn’t help that he was supposed to show some slides but the technical team failed miserably to provide them.

Question is: who sung the song “Love grows where my Rosemary goes”?

11 February

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Belem, Brazil

Last night, we went out to sea and back in to another part of the Amazon Delta for refuelling – the Para River. Presumably we couldn’t go direct to the refuelling point through the shallows of the Amazon delta?

Surely we have gone south of the Equator again? A bit rough out to sea, Force 6, but of course calmer in the river.

We are moored in the middle of the river outside the city of Belem and tied up to a floating fuel barge taking on, what the captain describes as “tonnes of fuel”.

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Refuelling

We drop anchor at about midday and leave just after 8:15pm having experienced, sun, cloud, rain and wind during our stay although for the 2nd time, the build a boat competition suffered rain at 2pm.

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Build a boat competition

There is no ability to leave the ship and the washing machines in launderettes are now turned off to conserve water.

Another talk today by Bernard Purrier, on Macapa and the surrounding area.

Evening entertainment by a female comedienne and magician, Mandy Muden, not the most entertaining but not bad, and a Spanish flautist, Andrea Amat with her captivating story and performance playing a few other flute type instruments. Certainly she is one of the highlights of the entertainment on this cruise.

We are now late so are having to chase across the Atlantic to our next port of call on the Cape Verde Islands on 15 February.