I have just recently returned from a trip to San Juan Puerto Rico and a 7 day cruise through the eastern Caribbean. I left for San Juan on November 18th and three plane rides later, landed around 1:00 a.m. November 19th to a steamy picturesque city. Slept in the next day and then took a cab to the San Juan mall and did a bit of shopping. Spent the next day exploring Old San Juan. Took some great pictures of the Caribbean from the Castillo San Cristobal fort.
On Saturday, November 21st it was time to start my Royal Caribbean cruise. This is the second cruise I have been on, the first being with Celebrity Cruise Lines. The Adventure of the Seas pulled out of San Juan about 8:00 p.m. just as we were sitting down to dine in the Mozart dining room. The ship is large and has some great lounges (my favorite being the champagne lounge). Our first stop is November 22nd at St. Croix. We took a tour through the botanical gardens and then the Captain Morgan rum factory. Growing up on a farm I was interested in the rum factory and how the product goes from field to bottle. Beautiful day in St. Croix – 30 degrees and sunny.
Monday, November 23rd found us in St. Kitts. It is absolutely beautiful and was a gorgeous hot and sunny day. The people are very friendly and accommodating. We took the St. Kitts train tour where we travelled by train for about 1.5 hours on the old sugar cane tracks. These were the old railroad tracks from decades ago when they transported the sugar cane down from the mountains by train cars. They have now converted them to a tourist train. We sat inside the train on the main floor where it was air conditioned and enjoyed two complementary drinks and a light snack. Got some really nice pictures as we travelled. We then got a bus tour of the rest of the island heading back to the ship. It was a wonderful day.
Tuesday, November 24th was at St. Maarten. We didn’t take any tours as we had heard that the shopping was fantastic at St. Maarten. We left pretty much empty handed and disappointed. The shopping is diverse if you are looking for diamonds and other gem-adorned jewellery but for anything else other than souvenirs, don’t expect to find it here. I couldn’t even find a nice scarf to take home. Now I wish that we had taken a tour.
Wednesday, November 25th was Martinique. We did not have any tours booked but did wander the town of Fort de France. Again it was a beautiful sunny day. We had been warned by a fellow cruiser that the town can be rather “sketchy” and we soon discovered that we were in agreement with this description. We were off the ship about 4 hours and that was enough for us. The town is not very pretty and it was difficult at times to find someone who was willing to speak English to us. There were men hanging around on the streets asking us to stop and talk to them but we weren’t sure what they wanted – probably money. Later on the ship, we heard of other people who were refused service because they couldn’t speak French. Too bad Royal Caribbean can’t find another location to stop at rather than this one. Woke up this morning with a cold so booked a late day appointment for acupuncture on the ship.
Thursday was Barbados which was gorgeous and hot. The Bajans are extremely friendly people and we enjoyed our tour through Orchid World and the old plantation house. Too bad I was feeling really lousy with my cold.
Friday was our one day at sea. We slept in until 10:30 and went for a nice lunch in the dining room. Read, relaxed and enjoyed some tasty beverages in the afternoon and then enjoyed a late dinner.
Saturday we woke up back in San Juan. It was a two plane ride home with us almost missing our connection in Toronto. I walked in the door Sunday morning shortly after midnight. Some rest and TLC will be taken in the next few days to recover from my cold but I do miss the heat already. It was minus 10 when we landed home.
Cruising certainly has its pros and cons. It is nice that someone else organizes all the tours and gets you there but you have to remember that you are always operating on someone else’s schedule and by the end of the trip I was tired of this and wanted some control back as to when I wanted to do things. Also, the cabins are so small and this was even with a balcony. I am used to a lot of space and I was glad to get back home to my spacious digs – made me very grateful for what I have. I did, however, get to see some beautiful islands and experience their hospitality.
I feel like I didn’t get much accomplished this weekend for some reason. Saturday I was up early and my sister and I went to Chapters and I picked up a few things for Christmas and then we had a nice lunch at Earl’s. We ran some errands picking up some things for Christmas (wine and chocolates – who needs the turkey??), had coffee and then I had an appointment at 4:45 for a pedicure. I got home and seemed to fritter the evening away doing not much of anything. Today I slept to 9:00 and then hit the shower and got cleaned up. I made a pot of coffee and then read pretty much until 3:00 when I finished my book “Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I will post my review at the end of this blog. So it is now 4:00 on Sunday and I feel like I really didn’t get much done this weekend. I leave on a vacation on Wednesday — flying to San Juan for a couple of days and then getting on a cruise ship for 7 days so I know that I won’t get much reading done from now until the end of the month. I am very much looking forward to my trip, however. As I will not have internet connection on the ship, I will post blogs about it when I get home at the end of November/beginning of December.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff:
There are two main characters in this book, Lotto (short for Lancelot) and Mathilde. They meet at the very end of college and elope approx. two weeks later. Lotto is a struggling actor and Mathilde was doing some photo-shoots/modelling. Lotto comes from a very rich background. His father started a bottled water company using water that was found on his own land. When his father died prematurely, the company and land was sold and his mother became extremely wealthy. When she learned of his elopement however, she cut him off financially. Lotto does not attain fame being an artist and there are days that they cannot afford to buy food to feed themselves. For some reason Mathilde quits work soon after she marries and spends the years doting on Lotto. Lotto does however become famous when he starts writing plays and their financial situation improves significantly, however, it does seem to feed Lotto’s narcissism.
The book is in two parts with the first being about Lotto and the second about Mathilde. The book is described as being about a long-term marriage and the secrets that couples keep from each other. I saw it more as a character study of two very different individuals. I found the first half of the book (Lotto’s story) to be very slow paced with Lotto being a pretty extreme narcissist.
Lotto’s section is written very poetically. The problem I have is that I dislike poetry. I found that I ended up having to read paragraphs three or four times to figure out what the author was actually trying to say. This frustrated me — if you have something to say, spit it out. I read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara in October and it was beautifully written and I didn’t have to re-read paragraphs to understand what was happening. I can see that the author would be very good at writing poetry but if that is what you want to do, then I would suggest writing a book of poetry, promoting it as poetry and if a person likes poetry, they will pick it up and read it. I was very tempted to DNF this book, however, I rarely do this (maybe once a year) and I had just done that with the book I had picked up before this one so I was determined to finish this one.
Mathilde’s story moves much quicker and I found it more interesting than Lotto’s. This is the part where we find out the real secrets. I won’t spoil the review by telling what the secrets are but it did improve my opinion of the book. If I had stopped reading right after Lotto’s story, I would have given this book 2 stars out of 5, partly because I didn’t like either character and I found that they didn’t really have many redeeming qualities. Finishing the book today, I am giving it 2.75 stars mainly because of Mathilde’s story and the fact that it is very obvious the care and attention the author took in writing this book and I have to give her credit for that regardless of whether I like her writing style.
Survived another week!! Didn’t get as much reading done as I normally do. Tuesday night I had tickets to see Craig Ferguson do his stand-up so I didn’t get any reading done that day (he was great though) and I had an appointment after work on Thursday so between being busy and being tired, I didn’t read as much.
Last Sunday I started reading the Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward. It is mostly a romance which isn’t a genre I normally read. I am enjoying the book more than I should be — by this I mean that I don’t like how some of the female characters are portrayed (vain, empty-headed, “only good for one thing”) and I don’t like how the male characters treat some of the women. So why am I enjoying it??? I think it is because the last few weeks at work have been very busy and stressful dealing with personnel issues, hiring, discipline, etc. and this is a fast, easy read.
I should finish Bourbon Kings tonight and then I plan on picking up Why Men Lie by Linden MacIntyre. This has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a good year and a half. It is the third book in kind of a series. I was looking at some reviews today on Goodreads and this book hasn’t gotten the good reviews that it did for the first book (The Bishop’s Man). I think maybe this is why it has sat on my shelf for so long – I think I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be as good. I am going to give it a go and if I am struggling with it, I am going to DNF it and move on to something else.
Tomorrow I get to go to my travel agent and pick up all my documentation for my cruise that leaves in two weeks. We depart from San Juan, Puerto Rico and travel to St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Martinque and Barbados and then back to San Juan. I am really looking forward to the break from work and seeing the Caribbean. I am also booking a trip tomorrow to Palm Springs, California for a week in February. I will be ready to get away from the snow and cold by then.
I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. I would have really liked to give it a higher rating but there were parts in the book where I was just plain bored.
The first thirty pages reeled me in and I found it very familiar when comparing it to the other three books written by Steig Larsson. Once I got to around page forty, however, I found that I became bored — it was a lot of technical jargon about computers, hacking and complicated mathematic algorithms. I found the book would then switch back over to Mikael Blomkvist and things would pick up again for a while. I enjoyed the storyline of Lisbeth protecting the autistic savant child in a manner that you wish someone had protected her when she was young. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it held out hope for me that the next book might be pretty interesting so I no doubt will continue on with the series.