i slept the night before we left, which, if you know me, means that i was more relaxed than possible even in my wildest dreams. i do not sleep before getting on airplanes. ever. we spent the morning hanging out with monkey pants on the porch. she’s two years old now, and a riot. speaking mostly in spanish, but more and more in english. she’s also one of the best behaved two year olds that i have ever met.
then we loaded up the car and my father-in-law drove us from new jersey, where they are spending the summer, to brooklyn to hop on the ship. i’ll admit, as we saw the ship looming in the dock, i thought, “zoinks. w.t.f. have i done?” but plow on i must, and plow on i did.
eddie and i ran around the deck and cabins because, as befitting the travelers on the QM2, our porters delivered our luggage to our stateroom. room number 6062 in case you’re wondering. that was in the middle of the ship horizontally, and toward the front lengthwise. aka, dark, no window, and in the front.
there was a send off party on the 8th floor deck, and without our feeling a thing…we had set sail. the most dramatic part of setting sail was when the ship went under the tapanze bridge. holy crap, it looked like the steam stack was going to get chopped off. but mostly we wandered around the deck and watched manhattan disappear into the fog of the atlantic ocean. goodbye new york.
the first night was a “casual” night, which meant dresses or stylish separates for women, and pants with jacket, but NO shorts for men. by the time dinner rolled around, a combination of motion sickness and panic had set in for me. i mean seriously, was crossing the ocean by boat better than an airplane? ten days on this ship, in the middle of nowhere. aahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. we were sat at our table with the four other people who would be our dinner companions for the duration of the trip, but i was too nauseous to eat much and sent eddie back to our room for dramamine. oh, and i was so sure that i would get sick on such a large ship. hah!
the first night ended with me taking a quick shower and shaking myself to sleep in our super dark windowless cabin. [actually great for sleeping]
slept in till 10:30. heck yeah! mostly we sat outside on the deck and read. it was foggy, but not too cold and not to windy. there were deck chairs set up all around the 7th & 8th floor decks. it was wonderful, and the fresh air made me feel much better. we watched an awful george clooney/michelle pfeifer movie “one fine day” in the ship movie theater. the terribleness made it fun, and poor eddie deserved a bit of fun after spending the last 24 hours watching me freak out on what was supposed to the be the way to travel that would keep me from freaking out. le sigh.
we discovered a ping-pong table on the 12th floor of the ship, and oh, we played ping-pong. as it turns out, i am a terrible ping-pong player. at no point in time during the entire ten day crossing did i win a game of ping-pong.
the second night was a formal night, fancy dress for the ladies, and suit or tux for the men. we looked good. i have no photographic evidence, so you’ll just have to believe me. though i’ll admit that my black sparkly dress was somewhat disturbed by the baby blue anti-motion sickness bands that i bought earlier in the day. that night, i made it through dinner, but no dessert, before i started shaking and somewhat spazzing out. however, we did discover that our tv in the stateroom showed an amazng amount of crappy movies, so we stayed up till 1am watching “must like dogs.” i wouldn’t recommend it.
more deck time. but it was coooold, windy, grey and foggy. i wasn’t the only one, but i was bundled up like a hobo. in fact, and i sat on a wooden deck chair in my thick winter pants, long sleeved shirt, hoodie, sweater, and coat with a towel pulled up over myself like a blanket, a british man stopped, laughed at me and said, “huh, i didn’t know they let the homeless on board. can i get you a cup of tea or anything to warm you.” to which i replied with a flourishing down sweep of my towel, “as you can see, i already have some tea.” eddie was laughing too hard to say anything for a while, but rest assured, he did mock me for the rest of the trip.
in the afternoon, we went to see rada [royal academy of dramatic arts] preform an abridged “much ado about nothing.” it was pretty good, and we discovered that the hipsters from the launch party were in fact the actors. at least we knew why a bunch of hipsters were taking a boat to england. during the play, my previously calmed self started to panic at the amount of movement i was beginning to feel on the ship. hmmm.
we skipped dinner that night and ate at the less than stellar, but not bad, buffet because they had sprung another formal night on us. not two in a row. no sir. not
and this night, after staying up till 2 watching some diane keaton/jack nickelson movie, i re-discovered my hippie relaxation tracks on the ipod from last year’s flight to berlin. sweet. so i donned the soothing mix, and i must say, it was most helpful in getting me to relax and not freak the f. out.
unfortunately though, the boat really started moving with some waves. at one point in the night, i woke up because i was seriously and truly airborn. i went up with the motion the bed/ship, and it smashed down so fast that i was still aloft for a good little while. eddie of course slept through the motion. i started to just have fun and accept that i was going to flopping around for the night, and while i couldn’t sleep so well, it wasn’t super stressful.
the hippie tapes and all the movement broke me. i stopped freaking out, and started having fun. ironic, because it was day four that had us the most in the middle of nowhere. seriously. middle of the atlantic. also, they, the ship crew/captain, were talking a lot about the titanic. there were books about it in the library & bookstore, photos and info placards all around the boat. a bit in poor taste, but whatever, the rescue boats looked sturdy and apparently could hold 125 people per boat. there were 2,300 passengers, and 1,500 crew, so we seemed to be all set with the life boats. apparently, there were 700 philipino crew members, and a portion of the crew accommodations was called “little manilla.”
it was too cold and windy to spend time on the deck, but luckily i found a knitting circle! it was me, the octogenarians, a mennonite woman and really annoying nyc architect who exemplified all that wrong with not only loud pushy americans, but specifically rude new yorkers who think they’re the cat’s pajamas just because they happen to eat take out for dinner every night of the week.
second tangent aside.
we watched “best exotic marigold hotel for the beautiful people” and i really liked it. i also really like that audience was mostly elderly people going on adventures to europe. very meta.
on night four, we realized what a great table of people we were eating with. we were excited and looking forward to dinner [not only because it was pretty good, they even had a “canyon ranch spa” menu with less butter, but great flavor], but also because we would get to see mimi, ethan, veronica, and robert, which meant a good long conversation not only about the days we all had, but about all kinds of stuff. mimi is a retired speech therapist who lives in brooklyn, but would be horrified to have someone say she was from new york. she is from bloomington indiana. ethan is one of her sons who is a free-lance technology consultant, and they were ultimately traveling to israel to visit his late father’s relatives. mim is a wonderful force of nature, and always excited to talk and share about her days learnings. they were really good about going to the various lectures and programs that actually had some learning value. we saw ethan multiple times during the day running around checking everything out. eddie and i watched movies and played ping-pong. to each his own i say. don’t judge us. veronica and robert are professors at pacifica graduate institute. they taught in the depth psychology department and were super cool. veronica is from the u.k. and they were on there way to europe for a family visit and general vacation. we’re hoping to meet up with them later in the summer when they are in berlin visiting their daughter who will be here for awhile. robert always has the most outlandish stories, that one would be inclined to dismiss as exaggeration were it not for veronica laughing, shaking her head and saying “unfortunately this is true too. i was there.” dinners were a blast.
day 5:again, too cold for the deck, but seemed to have settled into a routine of breakfast, ping-pong, lunch, knitting circle for me, reading for eddie, afternoon tea in the ball room, movie, nap, dinner, crappy tv movie. not a bad few days.
all was the same except at lunch we met a man who is retired fire fighter from marin california. this was his second atlantic ship crossing in his life. the first was in the late 1950’s when he was on a military transport ship with his father who was in the military. their ship hit a whale, breaking the propellers, thus stranding them in the middle of the atlantic ocean. whilst normally the navy would simply send another boat out to pull them to a shore, there were a series of tropical storms and hurricanes that prevented another boat from rescuing them. as a result of the storms, a man on board had a heart attack, so the navy sent a medic boat out to try and resuscitate him and get him to a medical center. however, they lost him. and by “lost him,” the fire fighter telling us this story meant, they lost him. as in dropped him between the boats and he sunk to shadowy depths. they were on this boat in the middle of the atlanic for 34 days till they could be pulled to safety.
i would not have done this trip if i were him.
much of the same, except, we saw land!!!! the irish coast was before us. super cool. also, mimi made reservations for the six of us at “coriander” the ship’s pop up indian restaurant. eddie and i had passed through it on several occasions, but as it cost $10 dollars a head to eat there, we though “ehhh. why bother? the included in ticket food at the restaurant was pretty darn good.” we though wrong. best indian food we’ve had since leaving san francisco, and best meal we’d had out since our march trip to nyc. so stinkin’ good. for realz.
stone henge and salisbury cathedral. at the commodore’s urging, we got up at 4am to watch the ship sail into southampton. it was beautiful, and nice to see land once again. we napped from 6:00-7:30am when we had to get up to get ready for our tour of the british coast line.
we were sad to be on the boat still as we’d said goodbye to friends old and new [we ran into old family friends who live in california but were crossing to england! it was fun to catch up with them over the coarse of the trip], as everyone else from our table was disembarking in england.
dinner was lame on night 7. two older people who were not friendly and not interested in saying much of anything to us. it was cute/sad to watch eddie try again and again to engage them in some sort of chat, but they never even told us their names when we introduced ourselves. no longer a fun dinner. i wanted to leave the table as soon as we were done eating, but eddie though that would be rude. i thought they were already super rude for not even trying to be friendly, so i just lied and said we had to run to see the night program. hah! night program of crappy tv on a comfy bed. dope!
sadly, the calm of the night was shattered when whilst in the shower, i started to go blind in my right eye. huh. when we called the on board nurse, she saw me and said my blood pressure had dropped too low because of exhaustion [thanks for the 4 am wake-up idea commodore], and dehydration and that i should sleep and drink more water. as i didn’t die, but soldiered on, i do believe she was right.
same olde routine, but now that 1/2 of the passengers had gotten off in england and 1,200 germans had boarded, knitting circle was more pleasant.
we skipped dinner with mean lame people and went back to coriander. yum.
for tomorrow, we landed in hamburg. [yes, yes, my tenses are all off. it’s on purpose. okay?]