A Travellerspoint blog

NICARAGUA

The ship did a lot of rocking as we made our way past the breakers to the dock in Corinto. This is a working dock with no tourist facilities at all. You can walk out of the port to a street filled with vendors though. This port was a rarity because it has not been taken over by big vendors. All you have are locals with their wares. You could see the real country here. We boarded our bus for the 1 ½ hr ride to Colonial Leon. Our guide was Elvis and yes he was named after Elvis Presley. He was born 2 months before he died and he said somehow his mother, who was a huge Elvis fan, was able to talk his dad into letting him be named Elvis! He has been a teacher and archeologist and had a wealth of information to share with us. There are 27 volcanoes on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua with 7 of them being active. One had a ‘hiccup’ a couple weeks ago and is still sending out smoke. The bus had no bathroom so we stopped at an On the Run gas station to get water and snacks and a potty break. Of course they give change in their money which is a cordova. 23 cordova’s equals $1 USD. Upon arriving in Leon, the bus parked and we got out at the main square. There were vendors set up selling food and souvenirs all around the area. We saw many school children and asked about it and were told they go to school in shifts. They don’t have enough schools for all the children so some go from 7:30 am to 12:00 and the others from 12:30 to 5pm. They do wear uniforms also. The main point of interest here was the La Asuncion Cathedral, which is the oldest church in Central America and took 100 years to build. After viewing the main part of the church we climbed narrow stairs through very narrow ‘tunnels’ to get to the bell tower and then on the roof. The views were breathtaking from up there. Once we exited the cathedral, we made our way back to the bus, but not after buying some of the local crafts. Our next stop was the Bubbling Mud Pots. This is an area that the pressure from the volcanoes creates. The earth gets soft after a rain and gives way to the heat below and makes the mud boil! The smell of sulfur was very prominent. If you stood too long in one spot you could feel it getting hotter in seconds. People actually live in this area and they have several things they tried to sell you. Even small children were walking around trying to push things at you to buy. Some of the kids latched on to some older people in our group and ‘assisted’ them throughout the walk through the mud pots. After 20 minutes we headed back to the bus and the ride back to the ship. Elvis did a wonderful job answering all our questions and even surprised us with a song before we entered the port!! And no it was not an Elvis song!! It was LaBamba!! He had brought his guitar and played the song. He was very good! He talked to Dwight and I several times about the Texas Rangers. I guess he is a baseball fan because he knew a lot about the team. Dwight had on an older Texas Rangers shirt and Elvis loved it. We got back to the ship and Dwight changed shirts and took that one back to him!! He was so tickled!! The people were very friendly and it is a beautiful place. The vendors were not near as pushy as they had been in Colombia. When you told them no they walked away. I found it to be a place where people were proud of their country. I would not hesitate to come back to visit this beautiful country.
So cute!!  Have a hard time with pictures from a moving bus!

So cute!! Have a hard time with pictures from a moving bus!

Square

Square

On the square

On the square

La Asuncion Catherdral

La Asuncion Catherdral

Black Christ

Black Christ

Main altar

Main altar

Burial site (can't remember who--but someone important)

Burial site (can't remember who--but someone important)

Confessional

Confessional

Bells

Bells

Bell

Bell

Going from 1st level up to top level.  Bill and Ulla in the background.

Going from 1st level up to top level. Bill and Ulla in the background.

Church and volcanoes

Church and volcanoes

The streets of Leon

The streets of Leon

Church on left is a private girl's school

Church on left is a private girl's school

The square

The square

Passageways we went through going up and down to the roof of the cathedral

Passageways we went through going up and down to the roof of the cathedral

Vendors on the square

Vendors on the square

The volcano in the background is where the heat for these pots is coming from.

The volcano in the background is where the heat for these pots is coming from.

Mud Pot

Mud Pot

Mud pot

Mud pot

Mud pot that was formed last week!

Mud pot that was formed last week!

The street you walk out to leaving the port.

The street you walk out to leaving the port.

Ferris wheel--seen from the balcony of the ship

Ferris wheel--seen from the balcony of the ship

You can see no vegetation aroiund the top of this volcano since it last erupted.

You can see no vegetation aroiund the top of this volcano since it last erupted.

]

Posted by tammyk 09:43 Comments (0)

COSTA RICA

Our morning started out a little earlier than normal. Because we were going to have a tender, we had to be at the lounge to wait for our tour to be called at 6:55am! So we decided to have room service bring breakfast. We put the paper on the door last night and wrote in the time of 5:45am if possible instead of 6am to 6:30am that was listed. Seems like the kitchen staff forgot to change the clocks last night because they were knocking at our door at 5:00am!! The alarm was set for 5:30a!! So we had an early breakfast and then headed to the lounge. Getting on the tender boats was not an easy task! The swells were so high that it took forever to get people on. The boat would go up and down 5 ft at times and people were scared to get on. We were leaving the ship at least an hour behind schedule. After our tender left, the captain moved the ship up by a jetty to keep it from being so bad. It was easier coming back but still very crazy!! After we finally got ashore we headed to our nice big air conditioned bus to take us to our Tropical Train Ride. Of course it had no air but the windows were open and the breeze was nice. The train ride let us see the areas of Costa Rica seldom seen by tourists. It is Labor Day here and the kids were out of school, so you would see them in their yards, sometimes right by the tracks, waving at us. We saw cantaloupe fields, mango trees and cashew trees. It was a pleasant ride and very scenic. When we got off the train we got back on the tour bus and took some dirt roads riddled with potholes to the area to take the Exotic Mangrove Cruise. They had beer, ice tea, pineapple, bananas and watermelon there for us to enjoy before the cruise. There was a small shopping area there where we picked up a couple souvenirs. The boat ride started out with us spotting an iguana then a juvenile heron. A raccoon was also spotted but I couldn’t see him. There was a squirrel seen before we came upon a crocodile! It swam along for while before going back under. When we headed back in we saw another one. They both stayed up for a long time. Everyone was able to get very good pictures. We were also lucky enough to see some macaws. They make a lot of racket, but what a beautiful bird! Our guide, Umberto, was awesome!! He is a hairdresser when not guiding tours! Had a wonderful sense of humor and kept us entertained the whole time. Our bus driver was superb! There were some very narrow bridges we crossed, one was named “Oh my god’ bridge, and I can see why it got that name!! He was a very good driver and we trusted him to get us around safely. Upon arriving back at the dock, we walked around the 15 or so vendor booths that we just set up as small tents, then got in line to take a tender back to the ship. One of those tropical storms hit after right after we got back on the ship! Now it is cloudy as the Westerdam pulls anchor and we head for Corinto, Nicaragua.
We were in this car behind the engine

We were in this car behind the engine

Train we toured on

Train we toured on

They have Brahmas here.

They have Brahmas here.

IMG_1133

IMG_1133

This is blurry but we were on the train and I thought he was so cute with this rainboots on!

This is blurry but we were on the train and I thought he was so cute with this rainboots on!

A house we passed on the train ride.

A house we passed on the train ride.

They have black sand beaches due to volcanic ash.

They have black sand beaches due to volcanic ash.

These guys were playing for us while we waited to take our cruise.

These guys were playing for us while we waited to take our cruise.

Dwight getting on our boat.

Dwight getting on our boat.

On the mangrove cruise

On the mangrove cruise

Macaw

Macaw

Macaw

Macaw

Crocodile

Crocodile

Crocodile

Crocodile

Crocodile

Crocodile

Crocodile

Crocodile

Iguana--he wouldn't turn around!

Iguana--he wouldn't turn around!

DSC_2806

DSC_2806

]

Posted by tammyk 20:53 Comments (0)

GOLFO DULCE –scenic cruising

We spent the afternoon cruising along the coast of Costa Rica and experienced a tropical storm over the rainforest.
Lightining over the rainforest

Lightining over the rainforest

IMG_1112

IMG_1112

DSC_2778

DSC_2778

]

Posted by tammyk 20:52 Comments (0)

PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT

At 6:15am the air was already muggy as we lined up for our turn thru the canal. The Celebrity Infinity was in the lane next to us and the Coral Princess was behind us. We went up to the bow, which they opened for us today as we went thru. The sun was out and it was already very hot. We were told 5 to 6 people a trip visit the infirmary with heat exhaustion. After we got into the first set of locks we headed to breakfast. We watched from our balcony until lunch and then went out back to see the final locks. At one time we had some clouds and wind and it was pretty comfortable. As we went thru the last set of locks, the skyline of Panama City came into view. It is a huge city with very tall skyscrapers. Our mission is accomplished and we are now in the Pacific Ocean!! Tomorrow Costa Rica!!
DSC_2515

DSC_2515

DSC_2519

DSC_2519

The 'mules' that are attached to the ships to help them stay steady.

The 'mules' that are attached to the ships to help them stay steady.

Gates opening for our entry into the canal.

Gates opening for our entry into the canal.

In the locks.

In the locks.

DSC_2584

DSC_2584

DSC_2592

DSC_2592

Leaving first locks entering Gatun Lake

Leaving first locks entering Gatun Lake

Centinial Bridge behind us and we are about to cross the Continental Divide.

Centinial Bridge behind us and we are about to cross the Continental Divide.

DSC_2624.jpgDSC_2657

DSC_2657

Leaving the canal!

Leaving the canal!

They used this arrow long ago to tell the ships what lane to go thru.

They used this arrow long ago to tell the ships what lane to go thru.

DSC_2720

DSC_2720

DSC_2737

DSC_2737

Panama City

Panama City

Bridge of the Americas

Bridge of the Americas

]

Posted by tammyk 09:17 Comments (0)

CARTAGENA, COLUMBIA

Humid, steamy weather greeted us when we arrived in Cartagena this morning. Our ship was the third to arrive so we ended up docking late. Our tour today was Scenes of Cartagena with less shopping. The buses were the mid size variety so the group was not too large. Traffic was really congested, I am guessing because there were 3 ships in port, but there were a lot of regular cars and motorcycles which were more like minibikes to me! The drivers were daredevils! I would look down by the side of the bus and one of the bikes was right beside us. They were so close it was scary! And honking horns was heard the whole time driving!
The drive to the old city was scenic with great commentary from our guide, Kennedy. The narrow cobblestones streets were easy to walk on and fun to see the different buildings. Santo Domingo’s Church & Inquisition Palace were two of the stops we made. The historical museum was very interesting. We found out that they still hang people here! But they don’t use the guillotine anymore, thank goodness! HAHA! As per the name of the tour, we had less shopping. A 20 minute stop was made at Las Bovedas (The Dungeons). The street vendors were very pushy, putting hats on your head, drinks in your hand and sticking cigars out at you! Was a huge put off to most people. On our way back to the ship we made a photo stop at the San Felipe Fortress. The port itself is a working port. Containers stacked all around and nothing right where you disembarked. There was a small shopping area but it was a little bit of a walk and it was very hot and humid. With the passengers on this sailing being of an older age, it was a long hot walk for them. After lunch we left the dining room and saw a man down on the ground. They think he was dehydrated. Very scary. For this entire cruise water is a big must because of the weather.
Tomorrow is the transit of the Panama Canal. We should be arriving anytime after 5am. So looks like it might be an early night. Until tomorrow…..
DSC_2500

DSC_2500

DSC_2495

DSC_2495

DSC_2473

DSC_2473

San Felipe Fortress

San Felipe Fortress

DSC_2446

DSC_2446

DSC_2443

DSC_2443

DSC_2433

DSC_2433

La Catherdral Santa Catalina de Alejandria

La Catherdral Santa Catalina de Alejandria

DSC_2412

DSC_2412

Santo Domingo';s Catherdral

Santo Domingo';s Catherdral

Santo Domingo's Cathedral

Santo Domingo's Cathedral

DSC_2398

DSC_2398

DSC_2389

DSC_2389

DSC_2383

DSC_2383

]

Posted by tammyk 15:44 Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 94) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »