Q226C

Med Fly Cruise – Barcelona – Barcelona

Palma de Majorca – Our Final Day – Day 14

We had nothing booked in Palma so had a lie in and a leisurely breakfast in the PG restaurant before heading down to the gangway on deck A to go ashore for a wander around the city. We got the shuttle bus which dropped us off near to the Cathedral.

It was a short walk to the Cathedral itself for a few photos but being a Sunday and there being services on we decided it best not to go inside but to carry on our stroll around town. Walking through the medieval backstreets you could be forgiven for thinking you were the only people in Palma it was deserted. Eventually we rocked up at a cafe where we thought a break was in order and a couple of expensive coffees would go down a treat. From there we carried on our stroll around town, it was getting busier as more locals and tourists woke but it was never crowded. Palma is a very pretty place lending itself to an abundance of photo opportunities.

We decided to go back to the ship for lunch and one last bit of sunbathing before the cruise ended. It was another pasta lunch for Jane, lasagne this time, Cunard are very good at lunchtime pasta dishes and they rarely get it wrong. I had crispy fish tacos, and although very tasty I didn’t feel satisfied which given all the food I’d eaten on the cruise is probably no bad thing, anyway I remedied that by having dessert.
Then It was time to head up to the Grills terrace and grab a bed in the shade for me and one in the sun for Jane. I relaxed there for a while reading but I was getting distracted by people watching, There are some odd old birds of both sexes wandering around on the grills terrace.

We had decided that we needed to go to the Commodore Club for our last cocktails, as much as we love the service in the Grills Lounge from Joy, Marten and Arnel, the place is a little soulless, the pianist in the Commodore club added a nice atmosphere to the room.
Jane decided she needed a little fizz in her life so she ordered a Black Bellini, me, a Doombar, as my life is fizzy enough. The Balck Bellinis aren’t large drinks though and it wasn’t long before she needed a refill.

The final dinner was a good one, even though there was rack of lamb as a main on offer, Jane followed my choice and went for Jumbo Prawn Thai curry. It was a very good choice indeed, I’d asked for mine to be spiced up a little and the chef certainly delivered on that. We did need to ask for a little extra rice though as the dish was very saucy and the rice supplied with it just wasn’t enough to mop it all up.

Final Tyrrhenian Sea Day – Day 13

It was ever so nice to have a lie in for a change, crawling out of my pit and into the shower in time for breakfast at 09:00. We were bad today, having pancakes with maple syrup, eggs easy over, crispy bacon and sausage. Naughty but nice. We were all set for sunbathing so went straight up to deck 12 to claim a bed and catch some sun. I didn’t stay long as I had a 10:15 insights lecture.

Trev Trethathen gave the lecture standing in for Angela Rippon who had to return the the UK, I assume to do a talking head for the TV coverage of the Queen’s demise. He was very good, talking about his time as a Matelot (RN), in the Falklands conflict as well as Iraq and Afgan. His lecture was followed by Jim Jarvie OBE and his border force lecture on fakes. Again this was a very interesting lecture. Once finished I wandered up to the Grills lounge to see if I could find the sunbathing Jane. As I arrived in the lounge she was just coming in from the Terrace, it was getting a little too hot without any shade on the lower terrace. I finished off the previous two days blogs from Rome and Naples before we headed into lunch.

We’d decided to get some of the packing done after lunch just to get it out of the way. I could pack away most of my smart attire and one of my tuxedos. Once that was done we headed back upstairs to relax once more and get in an early cocktail or two. It was nice to relax and sit out in the waning sunlight as the day cooled down.
Being a sea day, it was the final formal night of the cruise and the theme was Masquerade. I had dug out my Masquerade bow tie and cummerbund. It’s been a while since our last Masquerade formal night, none of our previous three on Queen Elizabeth has had one and my cummerbund had shrunk in storage so was a little tight, but I managed to just about squeeze into it.

Jane had pre-ordered Sole Meuniere and Crêpes Suzette so only needed to order a starter, some goats cheese dish. I on the other hand stuck to the Gala menu, cured fish to start and Barbary duck breast for the main. I ordered baked Alaska for dessert against my better judgement as the Alaska hasn’t been anywhere near an oven but is made with singed Italian meringue and is overly sweet because of that.

Naples and Pompeii – Day 12

Another day another tour, we were going to visit Pompeii this time. It was an early start, not as early as yesterday’s Rome trip, but we had to be at breakfast in the PG restaurant when it opened at 08:00. We had to to be out and in the Queen’s room for 08:30 so we had a quick breakfast of omelette and crispy bacon. Pompeii bans tour stickers so no yellow 10 badges for us and  we headed out to the coach ready for our trip.

Yulia was our guide and on arrival in Pompeii she shepherded us to the main gate where she gave us a few moments to take a comfort break while she collected the tickets for admission. Once through the gate she decided to reverse the direction of the tour as there were a lot of groups going in the normal direction. It was a good call as we had a fairly crowd free start to the tour.

This we really good in the museum where we had excellent access to the exhibits. Our guide was very knowledgeable as expected and full of enthusiasm pointing out all pieces of interest, many of which seemed to be good luck phalluses on door frames. It was surprising how many Pompeian eateries there were in ancient times, pretty much one on every corner.
The tour was pretty exhausting, two and a bit hours of walking, so we were glad to arrive back at the coach for the journey back to Naples and the ship.

We decided to dine on board rather than going into Naples since we were bushed, it was probably a good idea, so we had a cheeseburger in the PG restaurant. At 14:00, to coincide with the salute back in the UK the captain sounded the ships bell and sounded the ships horn followed by a minutes silence to pay respects to the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

After lunch we headed up to the terrace for a little light sunbathing, I managed to nod off for a while. I can only hope I wasn’t snoring, no-one complained to me so I assume not. After that it was back into the Grills lounge for a pre getting ready for dinner cocktail. Jane was back on the Dark & Stormy and the Moscow Mule Delux just to be different I had a Doombar.

Dinner was very good again with a starter of tempura prawn, which was different from the A La Carte tempura prawn dish. Main was a pork chop, which was so nice I succumbed to Anuraj and his constant feeding by having a second one.

The Eternal City, Rome – Day 11

We had to be out on our tour to Rome by 08:00 so we missed breakfast in the PG restaurant and ordered room service instead. I had a bagel, risky I know, and bacon and scrambled eggs. It was all very nice apart from the tea, the water in the pot was lukewarm, so I boiled a kettle and all was good again.

We had expected the coach to take about two hours but it was just over one. We got off the coach near the Marcello’s Theatre and was looking to get a hop and stop tour bus, but it was a lot of messing about and so we decided to have a coffee and review our options. We decided to have a walk up to the Pantheon and then onto the Trevi Fountain. The thing about Rome is you can’t turn a corner without there being some antiquities that need photographing. The streets up to and around the Pantheon were lovely, and quaint, around the Trevi Fountain it was like Leicester Square, touristy beyond belief.

We got the Trajans Forum when the heavens opened so we paid the 13 Euros and went into the museum. It was a bit boring until we went down the steepest steps you’ve ever seen and into the Forum itself. There it was quite spectacular. After a bit of shower dodging in the forum we headed off for some lunch.

Our tour guide had suggested eating at Osteria de Secundus near the Piazza Novona, where they did a 19 Euro tourist special, a brucetta starter, Pizza or Pasta main and a drink. It was very good and because we’d not taken the hopper bus lunch was effectively free.

We took a very leisurely walk back to the meeting point. When we walked into Rome through the Jewish Ghetto I noticed some people in costume and assumed there was some cosplay going on, but as we walked back to the rendezvous and noticed that there was a film being made which explains the people in costume.

By the time we got back to the ship we were shattered so chilled in the room until it was time to change for dinner. Dinner was very good again, we both had the steak Diane. I had the chocolate souffle for dessert, not one of my usual choices, but I really enjoyed it.

Villefranche and Monte Carlo – Day 10

After a terrible nights sleep, plagued by indigestion which I blamed on a breakfast bagel, we were woken up by the screeching of the tenders being lowered ready for ferrying guests over to the port. We didn’t have any trips planned for today so it was a leisurely breakfast – no bagel for me today, We’d had a chat with the head waiter Vitali who suggested getting the train. So we discussed whether to go to Monaco as Jane hadn’t been there before so we got the tender over to Villefanche Gare where it was 12 Euros for a return ticket for the two of us to Monaco Monte Carlo.

The journey was fuss free, but everyone and his dog got off with us so it was slow going getting out of the station. It’s a bit of a  strange do as there only seems to be  lift access to and from the station concourse up to street level. Monte Carlo is built on hill so it wasn’t long before I was drenched in sweat walking up hill and down dale towards Casino square. The place is plagued by cars, crossing the road never felt at all safe even on the zebra crossings. The parts of Monte Carlo we were in wen’t very welcoming, shops beyond posh with bouncers on the doors and no nice little cafes for a coffee.

We got the train back to Villefranche, we didn’t have to wait long as they are every 30 mins, but we did have to run up the platform a bit as the train stopped at the far end. When I say run, it was more of a fast hobble, but we got on and found a seat without any problems. We stopped in one of the small Villefranche tavernas for lunch and a very welcome cold beer. Jane had spaghetti moules and I had a sardine salad with floating Islands for dessert. Jane had the sorbet, delicious at less than 50 Euros. Getting the tender back was a bit of a palaver as we arrived at the same time as a couple of tours, this was compounded by the tenders being out of position so it took a long time to get through security and even longer waiting to board the tender. Before long we were back on board with Jane grabbing a bed to sun herself on the lower Grills Terrace and

I snuck into the PG restaurant for a crafty Afternoon Tea. I was famished after all the queueing. We stayed in the Grills lounge for a drink before getting changed for dinner.
Dinner was excellent, I started with Macaroni cheese, flavoured with mushrooms and truffle oil and a main of Bang Bang Prawns, both dishes were very tasty.  Jane also had the prawns and started with a chicken Waldorf salad. I had the frozen souffle for dessert, yum! We had an early start for our Rome Tour so decided on an early night.

At Sea on Route to France – Day 9

It was our penultimate sea day, which meant there were to be insights lectures for me to attend. For Jane it would be a day of sunbathing and just general chilling out. I headed off to breakfast first as I had an 9:15 lecture so an early breakfast with Jane following on once she was ready.

My first lecture was Jim Jarvis OBE a customs and excise man from Nottingham who told us all about the nefarious world of drug smugglers and the many dangers involved in foiling them. From there I headed up to the Grills terrace to find Jane.She was laid out in a bed worshipping the sun so I joined her for a little while, that little while turned into a long while as I lay there reading and forgot about my 11:15 date with Angela Rippon. She must have been very disappointed to be stood up, but to be honest I prefer the more informative lectures rather than the luvvie ones.

Lunch was beckoning so we went inside to the PG restaurant for salt and pepper squid and fish chips and mushy peas – lovely.Jane had the chilli dog which she also enjoyed.
After lunch it was more sunbathing for Jane and more book reading for me, we just chilled for the afternoon. So much so we were late getting to the Commodore Club at 17:00.

It was the Black and White formal night so we decided to get ready earlier and head up for drinks pre-dinner rather than at Commodore O’clock.The Commodore Club was busy but not so much that you couldn’t get a seat, We sat close to the duet who were entertaining us and ordered cocktails. Well I did, Jane had a Vodka and coke, I had a 1942 martini (tequila and orange bitters) god it was disgusting, I thought I was all sophisticated, like James Bond in my tux, but it turns out I’m not even Brooke Bond.

Dinner was back at it’s best with a really nice ballotine of chicken and game chips. Jane had the lobster tail followed by cherries jubilee while I had the strawberry delice. After dinner we headed back into the Grills lounge for a swift one before bed. It wasn’t until we’d finished I looked at my watch and realised it was only 21:30 – Ho hum the joys of getting old!

Barcelona for the Second Time – Day 8

It was all a bit noisy this morning with the hustle an bustle of disembarkation for the guests who’s cruise had finished today. Jane had decided that she was having a lie in so it was breakfast for one for me up in the PG restaurant. Breakfast finished early today at 09;00 so by the time I had arrived at 08:45 it was very quiet and I opted for a granola yoghurt pot with compote and a mushroom, cheese and chilli omelette. I grabbed a granola pot and a banana for Jane back in the room so she had something before we headed out into Barcelona.

We headed down to the shuttle bus pranging my head on a lifeboat stepping onto the gangway. There was a mind your step sign but no mind your head one! It was a short bus ride into Barcelona where we were dropped off at the World Trade Centre. It was then not too far to Las Ramblas and a steamy walk up through the centre of Barcelona to Placa de Catalunya where our hotel is next week. We then took a stroll down through the side streets, stopping in Corte Inglesis for a bit of aircon relief before heading into the Boqueria.

We walked though the market looking for a likely looking coffee stop, but nothing caught our eye there so we wended through the backstreets behind the market grabbing a cappuccino at a totally unsuitable cafe while we decided upon somewhere for lunch. As luck would have it, while looking for a restaurant I stumbled across a cookery school that does Paella courses. As I’m in Barcelona I thought this would be a good thing to do as a treat for my Birthday next week where I could learn to cook a mean paella. So we booked that up as it is only a 3 hour course then headed back into the Boqueria to drool over the produce there and head of for lunch at Geull for some tapas.

The lunch exceeded all expectations a lovely cold beer with several small plates, Jane was convinced that the albondigas were the best she’s had and I loved the sauteed calamaris all in all and excellent filling lunch for 41 Euros.

After that it was time to head back to the ship so we walked back to the World Trade Centre where the shuttle busses were waiting. Back at the ship we headed up to the Grills Terrace via the stateroom for a little light sunbathing, which turned out to be a little post lunch snoozing. It was hot and humid out with not a lot of sun, greyish clouds rolling in during the afternoon. After a cup of tea I went down to the Grills lounge for a coffee and relax in the cool of the bar.

Tonight at dinner was the first bad meal I’ve had, and actual bad meal. I had the tempura jumbo prawns to start and they are now back to their usual best
light and crispy tempura batter over the succulent shrimp in a spicy sweet chilli sauce. I decided on the chicken ballotine with langostine tails from the A La Carte menu. It was horrible, the texture of the langostine wasn’t nice, it was if they were past their best and started to fall apart and the chicken ballotine was soft with no texture. I did not like it at all. Our waiter did offer something else but I had eaten most of it and was not in the mood for another whole plate of food.

In the port of Valencia – Day 7

I hopped out of bed to catch the sunset this morning but alas we are on the wrong side for it today. We are in Valencia today, we were here in November where we went on a tour. We didn’t plan on going on a tour but we’d decide we fancied getting the shuttle ashore at breakfast. It turns out there is a world triathlon event in Valencia today and the shuttle has a transfer time of 40 mins so that put paid to any thought of going for lunch ashore. Instead it was decided that we’d do the laundry instead, oh joy! So we wen’t to the laundrette where there were three free machines. There aren’t any of the soap pods in our laundry room, but there is loose powder and a spoon to dispense it. Machine loaded and switched on, we headed down to the promenade deck to sit in a steamer chair for the 40 mins the cycle takes. Washing duly transferred to the dryer we then had another 30 mins wait for them to dry.
Once that was done the Grills terrace and a cappuccino was calling my name. We went to lie in the sun for a hour before lunch, I didn’t manage an hour as it was too hot for me. I ended up in the Grills lounge to get some respite and wait for lunch.

I had the beef carpacchio as a starter followed by beef bourguignon which was a very large portion, so much so I skipped pudding. Jane had quesadillas which were very nice. She also cracked one of the bottles of Rose that we had bought in Cannes. She’s decided to drink that across a couple of lunches which means we need to buy another bottle to top up our Commodore’s
wine package.

After lunch we went up to the upper terrace to grab a bed, if they hadn’t all been reserved, in the shade. There were a few available, but most had assorted tat on them reserving them for the chancers that had disappeared off for lunch. It was a lazy afternoon lying in the shade, reading my book, listening to Spotify until Jane decided she wanted it, then watching the Dutch GP on my phone. The ice cream fairies arrived at promptly 15:00 with a bowl of mint choc chip and vanilla ice creams swiftly followed by the tea trolley who furnished us with a nice cuppa.

All of a sudden it was 5 pm and the Commodore club was calling, so we headed there via the stateroom to bring the washing in from the balcony where it was airing. Jane started off with a dark & stormy which started off not very nice but with a bit of a mix was much better. Doombar for me today. The second cocktail of the day was a honeysuckle daiquiri.

We were a little late getting to dinner and arrived up in the PG restaurant about 8pm. It wasn’t any special dinner tonight and the menu was a little uninspiring, Jane as always opted for lamb, Dorset loin this time and enjoyed that though she found it to be a little “firm” not tough but it took a little more chewing than expected. I opted for roast turkey, Xmas dinner is my favourite meal of the year, and I really enjoyed that. My starter was smoked trout and dessert a blackcurrant cheesecake. After dinner we went back into the Grills lounge for a postprandial drink where Jane had a Brandy Alexander and I had a cappuccino.

Sea Day 2 Transit to Valencia – Day 6

We’re all at Sea today, so it was nice to have a lie in and have a relaxed breakfast. My first insights lecture wasn’t until 10:30 as Phil Holt was first up, and I’ve seen all of his offerings several times. We had breakfast in the PG restaurant, a basic one of mixed berries and yogurt followed by a cheese, mushroom and chilli omelette.
My first lecture was Grace Barnett’s chat about sharks and set out to dispel all of the myths surrounding them and went on to describe some of the more dangerous creatures that inhabit our oceans. She has a really good delivery and made the lectures very interesting. On the way to the lecture I passed along the Queen’s room gallery and there was a chairobics class going on, maybe I need to sign up for it as it looks to be at my level.

We had a new lecturer as the headline act, Dr Christian Jessen. Now he was very good, you could tell he was used to presenting, apparently he’s on the CH4 programme Embarrassing Bodies. His lecture rambled a bit, in an entertaining way, before ending up on his main point of trust science, not some random YouTubers for your information.
After that I headed back up to the Grills Terrace where I had left Jane sunbathing She was back in the Grills lounge after managing to wind herself up over the selfishness of some of the guests, well most of the guests, reserving sunbeds with books and assorted tat and not even using them. One couple grabbed 4, and had 2 unused until their progeny arrived at 12 to use them.
We then went for some lunch in the PG restaurant, I had a very nice chicken and wild rice salad with pomegranate to start and then Angry Prawn pasta as a main, delicious Jane was going to have gammon egg and chips, but noticed a cheese and onion toastie as the sandwich, her favourite, so she had that.

After lunch it was time to see if there were any free beds in the shade, not a one, no-one on them, but all claimed with tat, I wish I had the bottle to chuck it all overboard, but I’d probably get in trouble for littering. Anyway we found a couple of steamer chairs on deck 3 to chill on, but you miss out on the ice creams by not being in the Grills Terrace at 15:00. We did have some excitement though, a pod of dolphins started to breach as we passed with some being very acrobatic. Typically I couldn’t get my camera out in time!

After our afternoon’s relaxation we headed back to the room to change for the second of our Formal Nights, the Roaring 20’s theme this time. We had arranged to meet the other two couples for a drink in the Commodore Club as it was the penultimate dinner for two of them who were only on a seven night cruise. We stayed there for a couple of Doombars with Jane having Ginger Cosmos. They served up breaded tofu as one of the canapes again, this time without the redeeming samosa served along with it, shame on you Cunard!
DInner was excellent again, a starter of chicken and chorizo terrinne followed by a Prawn Kerala curry, I’d asked Anulraj to zhuzh it up a bit and make is spicier, the chef didn’t let me down. I think I also got extra prawns as I had to ask for extra rice to finish it all up. Jane had lamb cutlets again!

Corsica and Ajaccio – Day 5

I woke at 07:15 with what looked like bright sun piercing the stateroom curtains, so I hopped out of be to capture this morning’s sunrise only to be told to shut those curtains, Jane is not a morning person. We went up to the PG restaurant for breakfast where I was undecided on what to have. I would like a fry-up but my waistband really can’t handle it every day, so it was a compromise with a mushroom, cheese and chilli omelette and a Cumberland sausage on the side. Nice.

After breakfast we hurried off the ship as there were a whole lot of crew drills planned for the morning. Ajaccio is surprisingly nice, we had a good walk around the Capital, taking in the Fort, multiple Napoleon monuments and a very nice Market. It always feels a bit of a shame going to all these lovely markets with fantastic produce but being unable to buy anything. The range of cheeses and charcuterie was truely mouthwatering. Ajaccio comes out second best though when comparing cappuccinos. Livorno was a far nicer offering and way cheaper too.

We headed back the the ship at about 11:30 for lunch, stopping in the Grills lounge for a coffee and a bit of a chat. Lunch was nice, a crab salad starter and spaghetti Neapolitan for main. For dessert I had lemon chocolate opera cake which was delicious.
After lunch it was time for a little more sunbathing but only after pressing a couple of dresses in the laundry. It’s quite hot on the lower Grill terrace as there isn’t any shade. The upper terrace had quite a nice breeze over it when I went to get the towels. I wish they would make their minds up where they are going to place the towels, it seems to be a bit of a game of hunt the towels as they’ve been in a different place scattered around the terraces each day. Same with the bin for the used towels.
I could only mange an hour or so before heading indoors for a latte in the cool of the lounge. It

It wasn’t too long before Jane had finished up her sunbathing and came inside to see what the cocktail of the day would be ? Well it turned out to be a SIngapore Sling, While I had my reiliable old Doombar. The Singapore Sling didn’t last too long, obviously it was a little too refreshing so she had a backup plan of a Moscow Mule Delux so see her through.

We had deliberately left arriving at the PG restaurant until later today as our table mates really wanted to get off to see the show at 8pm and we knew if we got there too early we’d all end up chatting and they would miss it like the previous couple of evenings. We weren’t surprised to see them still there and yes we were all chatting and yes they did miss the show again.

We’d pre ordered Duck à L’orange for our main tonight so I only had to choose my starter, Creole Gumbo. Once I’d finished my soup, the flambe trolly arrived and the Maitre’d, Christian started the preparation of the fowl. Needless to say it was delicious. There was more flambé action to come as Jane had ordered Crêpes Suzette for dessert. While the head waiter this time, Vitali, prepared Jane’s pancakes I asked our waiter for a menu so I could order dessert, it turns out I had ordered Bananas Foster by accident,

I couldn’t have ordered them on purpose as I have had them on QM2 and didn’t like the dish, but I thought I may as well give it a go, I may like it when freshly prepared. Nah! I don’t like rum and I’m never going to, no matter how freshly prepared the Bananas Foster are.