The Cape Rolls Are Here!
The ship left Cape Town, on a blustery day. We had full stabilization but the “cape rolls” were winning.
I was ok, even though we bobbed several feet up….and…..down.
I developed my sea legs, from Cape Town to Belgium.
Before setting sail we had a farewell party in the cabin with six friends, who were keen to wander the ship and see us off.
By “see us off” I mean we had beer, or wine, followed by champagne, or whiskey.
I played it safe but this was an unforgiving combination for some people.
While changing for dinner my husband remarked, often, that he didn’t think he would make it.
He was a little queazy.
“Come on. You’ll feel better after dinner”. This, from someone who does not get seasick.
It was a bumpy walk to the dining room but we sat and ordered dinner and wine; moving right along. “Aghhhhh”, he moaned; forcing a crust of bread between his teeth.
O great. We decide to go on a cruise and you suffer from seasickness. He darted back to the cabin.
I ate alone. Was everyone seasick?
The dining area was nearly empty, except for one waiter and he looked terrible! Nearly put me off my three-course meal.
From the inside berth, our sailor watched the sea rising over the portals; going up…..and going down.
He didn’t think he’d get out alive…..It’s no fun to be green.
The Sun Shines On Us
Things looked a lot better in the morning. We were out of the cape rolls.
We were on a placid sea and we marveled at the life around us. The upper decks had panoramic views. This was what we were waiting for.
The ship had a swimming pool and two lounges, a movie theatre, and three bars.
Not the Queen Mary, but tasteful; relaxed.
This was a smaller version of today’s cruise ships of 4 thousand guests. This was the seventies.
The passengers numbered 400 with 450 for staff. I liked the ratio!
The crew was British and after this journey, we decided that they were ok.
We did the crossing the line ceremony, costume gala, black-tie night. Anything for a party.
We were not prepared to laugh so much.
We never thought we would make so many friends!
The crew members were crazy-funny.
They put on skits with us and covered our mistakes.
It wasn’t a talent contest!
We had no professionalism. We didn’t back each other up; we left each other helplessly laughing, forgetting our lines.
We glued down the props and put cream on doorknobs.
For two weeks…..They put us up to it.
The crew challenged the male passengers to a cricket match.
They were given two days’ notice and our men took this very seriously.
They were seen practicing!
The Gloves Are OFF!
Well, they had never been a team before, having only met each other on the ship. The crew were friends, after all, and had the advantage.
These were dire moments.
A portion of the deck was blocked off for the game and we maneuvered through a common room to get past them.
I don’t know how many cricket balls went overboard.
Our fearless leaders took on the challenge; the passengers won!
But didn’t they think that perhaps….the crew planned for them to win?…..”Impossible”, we were told.
Follow The Yellow Brick Road
We docked in Southampton and took in some sightseeing while in England.
Eventually, we stopped at Stonehenge because it was there.
Stonehenge was nice, but I could not grasp who had moved all these stones here. Why this spot? Why did they do it? How did they do it? How long has this been here?
About 5,000 years ago, Stonehenge was moved from Wales to Salisbury Plain.
It was probably a religious takeover of some kind.
I was glad to hear that it hadn’t been here for 10 million years, nor was it left by aliens.
I asked, “Is this the real Stone Henge?”
They replied, “If it wasn’t, where exactly, would we keep the artificial one“?
They don’t think like us. There is English, and there is British English.
Big difference. They have the advantage.
The ferry ride across the English Channel takes four hours from Dover to Ostend. It is traitorous and rough and we were tossed around on the ocean, with no regard for our safety. We needed a rest.
When we arrived in Antwerpen it was late in the day and the houses were shuttered up. They looked so creepy.
What kind of people lived here? Did they ever come out?
Don’t they like us?
By now we were already missing the camaraderie of the ship and we were desperate to make some new friends.
We met people in the workplace. These were our peers, and they could not wait to show us around.
We thought we were ready for it. They were the epitome of fun and good times.
They gave us lessons on natural fabrics.
Lesson one….never wear polyester! Even at a thrift store, people won’t buy it.
They wouldn’t be caught dead wearing polyester. (There was only one lesson).
They took us to a very old bar, deep in the harbor.
In a run-down dock area, this was the runnest-downnest place we had ever seen.
And business was good!
They stocked several hundred different beers, but the owner said he was low at the moment.
Seems there was a big crowd for lunch!
The music and noise throbbed throughout. It was active and lively with some rock singers on the side.
They had a kitchen, but I didn’t want to take our relationship that far.
In some European bars, the restroom facilities were….basic. There were no separate areas for men and women, just one room with a stall for the girls.
We walked past the urinals to get to the stall!…..It took some getting used to.
“Paaar-don” the waiters shouted! They wound through the people with their trays above their heads. They could stride through the eye of a needle.
Now We’re Stepping Out!
In Belgium, everyone cooks, but it is the men who are great cooks. They have a passion for it. The love goes into the food.
One day my husband said that we were invited to someone’s house for dinner on the weekend! Knowing how good it was all going to be, I did not eat all day.
We arrived on time, two kisses all around: mu-waa, mu-waa on each cheek.
We drank and drank. Where was dinner? Nothing was cooking.
Our hosts assessed the situation. Seems we were invited for a visit, not for dinner. They had eaten.
No matter, they rustled up something and grilled it on toast.
We sat around the kitchen, casually socializing, and it was the best part of the evening.
As a houseguest, we always felt like royalty. They wanted us there. They gave us undivided attention.
They prepared gourmet food! The simplest ingredients were a gastronomic delight.
Hello G? This is B.
They have some really small towns in Europe.
We rode our bicycles to meet our new friends from a small village.
This is what we were told to do, exactly:
Cycle up to the town square and park your bikes across from the fountain. There is a cafe facing the square.
Go in and ask for Bruno; he will be wearing a red tshirt.
Tell him that you are here. They will come and get us.
As this was 1978, we did not have cell phones………We were glad it was daytime.
It’s A Setup
When you have been living overseas for a while, you get a little cocky.
You lie to people so they can laugh about it later.
You set them up.
Just getting our own back.
We took a friend to see a castle ruin in Germany. Construction began in 1214, but it looked like it was never finished.
It looked as if it was falling down!
Maybe that’s why they called it a ruin.
Our friend asked if it was a real castle.
We said it was built for tourists.
“I suppose”, he said, “that they’ll just roll it away in the fall, and store it till spring”.
Poor guy. He learned nothing from us that day.
The sheer lack of logic of that was stunning. If that castle was somehow rolled away in the fall, where would it go? It takes up the whole side of a mountain!…....That’s ridiculous!
(I learned something on this trip!)
This Is A Test!
We drove past Bonn, Germany, and Bern, Switzerland. It’s a long way from Belgium and is so worth the drive.
Everything in Europe seems closer I guess, as the countries are smaller.
But each country has maintained its own culture and habits.
In North America, we’re not used to driving through several countries in a week.
People say you can drive through six or seven countries in one day in Europe.
WELL……I want to know where that route is.
It could save us some time!