Posts Tagged ‘Tubbs’

Well, they visit Dubrovnik…

One of the many benefits of cruising is that one gets the chance to see so many friends, as yet unmet: One also get the chance to see friends have already met, such as one the bartenders from a previous cruise who had already advised the staff minding the Champagne Bar that Podge & Tubbs had claimed as their haunt for this cruise, that Podge had a penchant for Laphroaig while Tubbs liked Bombay Sapphire. But that’s a by the by.

It is always fascinating to meet new friends, and so it was for Podge & Tubbs, especially on this cruise as approximately 50% of the passengers were virgins and Podge & Tubbs are always willing to shine a guiding light for virgins and advise on what’s best, what’s good, what’s not so good: Obviously such views were subjective, which they were always keen to point out. The virgins are of course first time cruisers.

On the eve of the cruise, their table companions for the evening were virgins and they were keen to hear about Dubrovnik as Podge & Tubbs had already been there before. The companions were particularly keen to know if there was far to walk to get to the town. Oh don’t worry about said Podge. The boat parks just outside of the harbour and it’s just a short tender ride direct into town.

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These pictures were taken in 2005 with a very tired camera showing the boats ‘parked’ just outside the port and a shot of the port itself from where the gate to the town is passed through.

Given the obvious frailty of a couple of the virgins, Podge & Tubbs felt good being able to tell them that all they would have to do was get onto the tender from the ship and straight across into the two harbour and town gates. If there was a better way of arriving in Dubrovnik, nobody knew.

At the end of what had been a fine evening both Podge & Tubbs retired to their quarters, Tubbs went to bed, Podge went to the balcony for one more nightcap before retiring himself.

The Boat’s Going The Wrong Way

Come early Morning, Podge, feeling groggy from his breathing but with significant improvement, got yup and made himself his early morning coffee and went out to the balcony to watch as they sailed into the port / harbour of Dubrovnik. But wait, thinks Podge, “where are we going” as he watched the Oceana sail past the old harbour and continued onwards until eventually turning to starboard, again and again and entering into what transpired to be a Cruise Terminal. Podge checked his location on Google Maps (below) and found they were parking some distance away. The information they had given to the virgins had been incorrect. The trip into town would have to be by bus. “Bugger” thought Podge. “Think I’ll lie low for a while” he mused.

Dubrovnik

The Cruise Terminal did not in any way reflect the old town that Podge & Tubbs remembered.

The Duchess was double unhappy!

Their extensive investigations and research indicated that the trip into town via the shuttle bus was around 20 minutes so they had no need to rush. And rush they didn’t. They did in fact just about make breakfast before it was shut and reopened for Brunch. Now as it happens, Brunch is almost exactly the same as Breakfast from Podge’s perspective, so he wasn’t worried anyway.

Eventually, with hunger sated, they gathered the necessary paraphernalia for a shore trip: Inhaler(s), drugs (all legal), camera, Kangaroo Poo Baseball cap for Podge, pink handbag for The Duchess and of course wallet / purse. All loaded up they joined the next available shuttle bus and set off for the town of Dubrovnik.

As soon as the arrived, their first port of call was to be ATM: Podge always likes to extract money from an ATM at every port. Nobody knows why, not even Podge: He doesn’t even keep the receipts as mementos. One can only assume that the oxygen starvation from Codgers Old Puffing Disease )Poor Podge) causes him to do irrational things. Who knows, but that’s what he does and that’s what he did this time. Unfortunately, The Duchess saw how much he had withdrawn and made a mental note for calculations during their time in town.

Money sourced, camera at the ready, cap on, wallet secured, on the opposite side to The Duchess, Podge led the way down into the town.

Might get some sweets

Coming into the Old Town from the other end was alien to Podge & Tubbs and it took them a while to get their bearings but heading down what Podge termed as the main drag, they soon enough came to the gateway to the harbour. At leat, they knew where they were. But, the walk had taken its toll on Poor Podge. Podge was struggling. Podge needed to rest but he also wanted to see around the harbour. They slowed down, stopping every few steps to admire the view as they slowly worked their way round the harbour past the Aquarium and out to the lighthouse. Here were some convenient seats to rest and allow Podge the get his breath back before they headed back to the the town centre to find a nice bar for a nice glass of local beer, just don’t ask Podge what the beer was. He can’t remember. He just knew that as he sat there enjoying his beer, that the Duchess, while enjoying her G&T , was calculating. Calculating how much had been drawn out against how much the drinks were (no food was to be allowed) so that the scale of future purchases could be calculated. Quietly, The Duchess worked out the exchange rate and was dismayed when she realised the 500 Croatian things was not much more than £50 . Bah, thinks Tubbs (the Duchess has regressed), might get some sweets but that’s about it.

Maybe not that many sweets

“Do you fancy another?” asks Podge. Humph thinks Tubbs, then thought ‘why not’. ‘OK” she says, “Just one more” she said emphatically. Podge made a mental note of the emphasis on ‘Just one more’. ‘Uh oh’ he thinks. ‘maybe should have drawn out more money. ‘Old Scrooge’ thinks Tubbs. ‘Well there maybe not that many sweets to be sourced but what will be, will be my choice’ mused Tubbs.

Eventually, their thirst was sated, Podge realising he wasn’t going to get away with a third one so up they got and away they went. Slowly, and slowly was the operative word here, Tubbs, trailed by Podge, made their way back towards the pick up zone all the time looking out for what could be purchase with what meagre funds remained. Eventually, Tubbs espied what she had been looking for and in they went.They both gazed around in wonder at the array of sweets and biskwits, sorry, biscuits. They so wanted to spend their money, what money was left that is, but they were stuck behind a bunch of, as Podge put it, ‘Squeaky Squealing Schoolgirl Grockles”who giggled and squeaked every-time they picked up an item looked at it and then put it back. After what seemed an interminably long time, they finally settled for a single small chocolate bar that smaller than a small bar that serves no purpose at all. Well, that’s what Podge reckoned anyway.

Eventually, it was their turn and they chose this and they chose that and they put back this and selected those, and put back those and select them and repeated. Eventually with some glee and air of arrogance, Podge announced that he did have some secret money so they could if Tubbs so desired, have this, that, those and them and they could event have a new fridge magnet. Tubbs was happy: Tubbs loved Podge and so Podge was happy and let’s face it, we all know that Podge loves Tubbs. Happy Podge. But, his breathing was still bad, if not a little worserer (Podge speak) and was by now struggling so the next port of call (get the nautical term?) was to be the coach pick up point and the trip back to where the boat was parked (another nautical term) and Podge just collapsed into his seat on the bus. Poor Podge.

Back on the boat at last, Tubbs knew that Podge just needed to rest so she made him sit down on the balcony where he could relax, enjoy the fresh air and have ‘small’ G&T or a chilled Chablis or maybe a beer (it was too early for Whiskey / Whisky). Naturally, he wasn’t going to be alone and soon enough Tubbs was with him with a nice G&T, Podge had opted for the same, and together they sat and relaxed.

And so, as the afternoon meandered slowly towards evening, His Podgeness and The Duchess sat and relaxed and watched as the boat untied all its strings and gently pushed away from its parking spot and head course back to the Adriatic Sea and turning right to head for Venice.

And, as the Oceana meandered her way Venice’wards (Podge speak), Podge checked out his photos. Today he had elected to take just Canon 5D with 40mm Pancake (making his digital SLR a point a shoot camera) so was interested to see how the pictures turned out. Podge was reasonably happy with the results.

A quick weekend trip to Bruges and Saint Peter Port on the Aurora.

Podge and Tubbs had been to both Bruges, where it always seemed to rain on them, and Saint Peter Port but this cruise was a cruise with a different purpose.This cruise would elevate them to the top tier of P&Os loyalty scheme which would bring them extra perks. Such perks now included bigger discounts and, more importantly to The Duchess and His Podgeness, priority embarkation. And it started with this cruise. Oh how The Duchess enjoyed the privilege of being directed straight past all the waiting passengers and direct through to the ship for champagne and lunch.  Podge and Tubbs were well happy.

The Aurora

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It had been over 10 years since Podge and Tubbs had been on the Aurora and were looking forward to seeing her again, especially as they had been upgraded to a Mini-Suite. They weren’t sure however how she would be given her age: She had been in the service of P&O since 2000, so she was clearly built in the last Millennium.

Having boarded the ship, ahead of everybody else, eaten lunch and drunk copious amounts of champagne, The Duchess, closely followed (three paces behind) by His Podgeness made her way to their cabin, sorry, mini-suite, checking the emptiness of her ship on the way (this wouldn’t last). Oh how overjoyed was The Duchess as she surveyed her new empire. And what an empire it was with bedroom and separate sitting area, a lovely double sized balcony and a proper bathroom with his and her sinks. Better still, there was a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for them along with a nice box of chocolates. Pre-empting her command, Podge moved the chocolates into the fridge and opened the champagne and dutifully poured her a glass and of course a (slightly larger) glass for himself.

Irrespective of how many cruises one may have done, there is still the obligatory life boat drill that has to be conducted before every cruise, which must be attended by all passengers: This included His Podgeness and The Duchess. Neither of them enjoy the drill but they do at least recognise the importance and so with life vests in hand, they dutifully make their way to their allotted muster station and promptly fell asleep. Naughty Podge & Tubbs.Waking just in time to prove they knew how to don their life vests, Podge was informed that their next course of action was to return the vests to the cabin and explore the boat.

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Podge & Tubbs explored The Aurora, found the Crows Nest, a good place for G&T declared Tubbs, then moved on the The Anderson Bar, an excellent place for pre-dinner champagne declared Podge. The next find was the Gym – “This is not a good place” remarked Podge, “It looks painful, we should give this facility a miss” said Podge & Tubbs in unison. Although they are not pool people they still needed to know and appreciate the pool facilities: they were mightily impressed with the pools on The Aurora. Especially the one with the sliding roof (Crystal Pool) which guaranteed the right climate wherever in the world one might be. This was further enhanced by the provision of a fast food bar with all the sort of food that Podge loved and adored but which Tubbs forbids. Poor Podge.

Lastly, they found the Pennant Bar: This was the bar for the obligatory fivesies (Wine at 5, or 4, or 6, whatever time suited:-) ). They tried it out, the wine was good, the bar and surrounds were good. The temperature was cold. They ordered more wine and returned to their cabin where they relaxed and watched the world go by as they sailed out of Southampton, passing Calshot, Cowes & Ryde on the Starboard side with Lee-on-the-Solent, Gosport and Portsmouth on the Port Side. Podge always liked this bit. Podge was happy and if Podge was happy, then Tubbs was also happy: Podge & Tubbs were a happy and content couple.

Next Stop, Zeebrugge then Knokke.

Bruges was the official port of call, even though it isn’t actually a Port! Podge & Tubbs however have been to Bruges so many times now that they decided to give it a miss this time. One alternate option was a trip to Ghent but this had already been done as well. Very, very briefly, they considered the old folks option of a coach trip just to view the surrounding countryside and sample chocolate and beer. Much as the chocolate and beer had their attractions, the thought of being part of the Old Folk Brigade caused them to regain sense. Then they saw a trip to Knokke calling at Damme (formerly the port for Bruges in the 13th century) on the way. Damme was in fact quite a picturesque little port with coffee shops, museums and a fab church.

The visit coincided with an arts festival with numerous statues placed in and around the church grounds and two itself. After gazing a little too long at the statues of naked women Tubbs decided that it was time to take Podge to a little cafe for a coffee and biscuit, lest he got too excited. Begrudgingly, Podge followed on dragging his heels and sulking: he wanted to stay with the statues. Podge is a sad man.

Eventually, having sated their thirst, they slowly made their way back to the coach for the second half of their excursion to Knokke, billed as the playground for those with an above average standard of living.

The journey wasn’t too long and in no time at all they were making their way through the outskirts of town and ultimately onto the main drag close to the beach: Today however was not beach weather so shops & shopping was to be order of the day. The main objective was to get a birthday present for young Matthew. He wanted a watch, they knew that, but what watch. They needed inspiration so what better place to get inspiration for buying a watch than to visit shoe shop after shoe shop until eventually they found a shoe shop that had some shoes that met with the approval of The Duchess and matched the contents of the wallet of His Podgeness. Shoes purchased, inspiration must surely follow.

It was Podge who was most inspired and not just by the rather fetching young lady behind the counter of a watch shop (always a good place to look for watches) but by the fact that they sold Festina watches: Festina used to be the official timekeeper for the Tour de France so would, Podge assured Tubbs, be perfect for Matt ‘The Cyclist’. It also meant that Podge got to spend a little more ‘quality time’ with the young lady behind the counter (Podge is so naughty).

So, watch purchased, shoes purchased, fridge magnet purchased (of course), Podge and Tubbs returned to the Pink Fountain where they had been instructed to wait for the bus that was to take them back The Aurora.

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Pink Water Fountain – Just For The Duchess

Bet you can’t guess what Podge and Tubbs did when they got back to The Aurora. Yep, that’s right, they went for fivesies (fivesies are early evening drinks, normally but not always, wine that is often had at 5 pm, or 4 pm, or 6 pm – fivesies are flexible) and something to eat. And, despite the weather, Tubbs insisted they she wanted to eat, and drink of course, ‘Al Fresco’.

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I’m on a Cruise Ship, I will eat Al Fresco

This didn’t last long, Tubbs eventually admitted she was cold and they went back to their Cabin, sorry Suite,  to prepare for the evening festivities as The Aurora sailed to Saint Peter Port, a place Podge & Tubbs had no intention of visiting. Why? Because reaching Saint Peter Port would mean tendering and Podge hates tendering (see https://podgethepuffer.com/2014/04/06/bali-the-land-of-mystery/ for why).

The morning brought apparently calm seas and Podge & Tubbs were almost tempted to ‘give it a go’ and take the the tender to shore but the prospect of a late leisurely breakfast and the use of the ship almost exclusively while everybody was ashore was too great a draw to sway them. They were staying put. And, as it turned out, the decision was a good one. As His Podgeness sat upon the balcony watching the Tender boats (Survival Craft!) to’ing and fro’ing he noted that one of them had returned, engine faltering, to the mother ship Aurora. ‘That’s not good’ thought Podge. They were now one craft down so transfers would take longer. It also transpired later in the day that due to harbour traffic, there were further delays which meant that it was well past lunch before everybody had managed to get ashore. Podge & Tubbs would not have been happy. Podge and Tubbs were happy. They had elected to stay on board. How smug were Podge and Tubbs!

The remainder of the day went pretty much as planned, with Podge & Tubbs enjoying the relatively spacious and empty bars, etc. They even managed to enjoy three’sies, four’sies, five’sies and six’sies before finally packing (there wasn’t actually a lot to pack. Even by The Duchess’s standards, three cases for a three night weekend break was travelling light. Then, it was time for dinner and post dinner drinks before retiring back to their cabin, sorry, suite, knowing that they had an early start, to be sure that they were to disembark in good time so as to be sure they were back home before lunch. Podge however wiled away just one more hour on the balcony as the Aurora sailed for Southampton. He sat there listening to the sounds of the sea as the ship cut through the waves on her way home. He sat, sipping his secretly secured rather large Laphroaig and mused to himself with self contentment. They had done it. They had made Top Tier with P&O. Podge was a happy man and he knew Tubbs was also happy which meant that all was well in their world.  ‘Where next?’ he thought to himself. He knew the answer, it was to The Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights, with luck. But that was many months away, surely there was time to fit in another adventure. Podge hoped so, else Tubbs wouldn’t stay too happy for long. Podge’s next challenge was set.

Poor Podge.

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Having conquered Pisa, using Livorno as base camp, the next target was Genoa. Genoa was to be the end of the current cruise and over 1000 fellow passengers would be disembarking for their flight home.Podge & Tubbs however was having none of it: They were staying on.

Having spoken with Tubbs’s youngest boy (Master Nicholas) who had been a ships photographer for a year including four months doing the Mediterranean cruises, Podge & Tubbs decided that as Genoa itself probably wasn’t going to be to their taste they decided to opt for an excursion called Castles & Wine (it was the wine that drew their attention).

Podge & Tubbs had no friends

Unfortunately, the day before their arrival they received a cancellation letter to the effect that the tour had been cancelled as they (Podge & Tubbs) were the only ones looking to go. It seemed that nobody wanted to play with them. They had no friends.

Poor Podge & Tubbs.

Being as they were, without friends, Podge & Tubbs decided that they would stay on board all day. This gave Podge the rest he so badly needed, particularly as the next day was to be an epic 8-hour excursion to Florence. This also gave them the chance to smugly watch all those passengers leaving the ship and enjoy the peace and tranquility before the new batch embarked.

Podge, got up early enough to watch the boat glide into port and park. He sat on the balcony for a couple hours watching dawn break and the town of Genoa slowly waking up. Before too long, the seemingly quiet roads became jam-packed with commuters making their way to work. Podge felt smug. All to soon however it was time to awaken The Duchess with her morning cup of Earl Grey. Podge was by now proficient at waking her slowly and gently so that she started the day in a good mood. This always meant that the day would be a good day.

Very soon after, Tubbs joined Podge on the balcony and they sat there drinking their brew’s while watching Genoa going about its daily business content in the knowledge that although this was the end of this cruise, it was also the start of their next cruise: They were doing two cruises, back to back.

Lucky Podge & Tubbs.

The time was by now, 10:30 and they both agreed that it was time to go for a quiet breakfast, especially quiet as most of the passengers would by now have disembarked.

Oh how wrong they were.

The system was different to all previous systems they had encountered. This time, the passengers disembarked over a period up to 16:30 and even worse, the new passengers were already embarking. There were glum looking passengers with their hand luggage, huddled around in groups in the restaurant, waiting to disembark: There were confused pale faced passengers with their hand luggage waiting for their cabins to be available, huddled in groups in the restaurant wondering what was where and where was what.

It was just too much to bear.

Podge and Tubbs turned into His Podgeness and The Duchess, found a free table, just, sat down and had brunch, and left as quickly as possible. They wanted peace and quiet not to sit around with glum faced, pale faced passengers (in need of some sunshine) scattered all over the place. Quickly they made their way to the nearest bar and sourced a handful of Bud’s, tonic for the Gin, wine (just in case they ran out of gin) and some elderflower drinks (whatever they are) and retired to their cabin and there they sat, like two sad recluses, on their balcony drinking G&T and soaking up the sun, until the sun moved away then, they went inside and watched Spectre. The timing was perfect. Come the end of the film, it was time for fivesies so off they went to the Champagne Bar for some light refreshment before their evening meal after which they returned to the Champagne Bar for a last couple of drinks before retiring to bed.

In a way, it all worked out rather well, as Podge got the rest he needed (he did have a bit of a headache as well) and shall be good for the next days epic adventure to Florence. We shall see how Podge is when they get to Florence.

Poor Podge.

 

 

The next day Podge was so very, very poorly. His breathing was really, really difficult: Podge’s cold had been upgraded to man flu and this combined with COPD (upgraded from Asthma) did not make for a good mix: No part of Podge’s body had any energy, his lungs even less.

Podge felt sorry for himself.

At around 06:00 Podge dragged himself from his bed desperate not to disturb The Duchess from her slumber (disturbing her slumber was a bad thing) and made himself a coffee and went out onto the balcony to watch the ship arrive into Marseilles. Podge sat for an hour watching the world go by, watched the ship park, watched the men tie up the strings and set the gangplank, or should that be gangway, to allow the eager passengers to escape ashore or join their excursions.

Podge and Tubbs had no plans for the day.

As there was nothing planned, it was ‘planned’ they they would have a late breakfast / brunch then maybe they’ll take the shuttle bus into the town of Marseilles, it was after all a place they hadn’t yet visited. They had plenty of time as the boat wasn’t leaving until late anyway as it was to be just a short overnight hop to the next port of call, Cannes. This now leisurely morning ,including an extended ‘rest’ before breakfast pleased Podge greatly but even so, Podge never neglected his duties and so, at the allotted time of 09:00, he presented Tubbs with her Earl Grey Tea, awakening her slowly so as not to start her into one of her ‘moods’ – the sort of irrational, comes out of nowhere for no reason type mood that only women can have :-). Luckily as she slowly awakened, a pleasing smile grew from her sleepy face and Podge knew that he had one a good job and succeeded, and so this day would be a good day. With that, Podge returned to the Balcony to enjoy his peace and solitude.

Eventually, The Duchess arose from her [beauty] sleep and joined His Podgeness on the Balcony (it does sound grand doesn’t it). It was all Podge could do to look up and say good morning such was his physical struggle this day. She gazed upon him and inwardly doubted that she was going to see Marseilles today; there was no way Podge could make the journey. For Podge’s part however, he knew that his Tubbs really wanted to go ashore, if only to get the obligatory fridge magnet and of course, Podge wanted to see if he could buy some more inhalers. And so, although the body was weak, the spirit was strong and he declared ‘ok, let have some breakfast, then make our way, slowly into town’. This pleased Tubbs for not only was she going into town after all, but she was absolutely starving and breakfast, by now it was actually an 11:00 brunch, was just what she needed.

The shuttle bus into town took 30 minutes as the bus took its eager passengers into the centre of town, everybody just looked out through the glass like goldfish in a bowl wondering, wondering when the town would be become a nice town for so far, a nice town it really didn’t look. It’s very difficult to work out how to describe Marseilles, no doubt on sunnier days it may look a lot different, and it being a Sunday may not have helped but the town came across as unkempt, rubbish was everywhere, maybe even unloved but that’s only the perception of an outsider, but the one thing that was for sure, Podge & Tubbs did not want to spend any longer in town than they could help. On arriving and disembarking the bus, they looked around, almost in trepidation. Everything seemed so dishevelled, walking had to be with care for fear of stepping on the wrong stuff, most places were shut and everybody seemed to be just standing around bemused. Is this really the drop off point? everybody wondered. Apparently, it was. Looking around once more Podge & Tubbs espied a department store which was very nice, just as many department stores are in the UK are but once outside again it was back in a cityscape of seemingly neglect and lacking in care. They did wonder down to the Old Port but nothing endeared them there, so they found a pharmacy, bought two more inhalers, €10 this time which is probably £4 each so they seemed to be getting dearer and then they went in search of fridge magnets.

Podge was struggling.

Although all they’d done was sit on a bus for half an hour and wondered around for another half an hour, it was enough to tire poor Podge. Poor Podge was struggling by now. He just wanted to get back on the bus and go back to the ship. But he knew this wouldn’t be possible, nor advisable until the fridge magnet had been sourced. As luck would have it however, the journey back the bus involved travelling through a small market (why do markets alway chirp up women, especially Tubbs?) selling exactly the same sort of stuff that every other market sells although obviously, some of the images differ, such as those on fridge magnets.

Before long both Podge and Tubbs were back on board the bus, Podge clutching his two more inhalers but struggling to draw breath, Tubbs clutching her new fridge magnet and both Podge & Tubbs eager to get out of town and back onto the ship.

Back on board

Once back to the safety and comfort of the Oceana, Podge & Tubbs dropped off their vast array of purchases, Podge took some [legal] drugs, for his breathing, then went along to Magnums for what is now known as fivesies or 5 o’clock drinks. The bar steward greeted them with his normal cheery self and announced that he had heard from a previous bar steward who they had met on their last cruise that Mr Podge liked Laphroaig Whiskey and so they had got some in especially for him. This cheered Podge greatly, he even started to feel a little better but nevertheless, with his body still weak and even though his spirit was now stronger, he still couldn’t run a marathon nor half a marathon, he couldn’t run for a bus, in fact he couldn’t run but at all, he was definitely better than the morning – must be the news about the Laphroaig.

At the end of the day, Podge mused and thought to himself, ‘what a weird day, thank god she didn’t wakeup in one of her moods’.

Poor Podge.

After leaving Gibraltar, they had the pleasure of a day at sea where they could relax, enjoy the sea air and for Tubbs to enjoy the massage session Podge had booked for in the Spa. Tubbs believed it was because Podge wanted some quiet time but she wasn’t going to argue. Afterwards however, she wished she had argued. Apparently, the girl applying the massage was from a specialist intensive interrogation camp where pain and pressure were applied with equal measures. Tubbs was in great discomfort.

Podge had got it wrong, again.

When Podge gets it wrong, Podge pays, one way or another. Whether somebody has a direct line to a greater power or not shall remain unclear but through the remainder of the day and through the night, Podge’s breathing deteriorated.

The following morning brought Barcelona, a place both Podge and Tubbs have visited before. But today, Podge was weary and wondering how he was going to manage the excursion they had planned but Podge was desperate to do it. But, with a late start and an hour on a bus, Podge knew he would be ok for the 90 minute trip to the Montserrat Monastery which included a trip on a rack train on the way up to said monastery perched on the edge of the ‘serrated mountains’ as the locals like to call them on the basis that they look like rows of teeth.

The train ride itself was a lot more enjoyable than was first feared: Tubbs believed the train to be one of the steep vernacular railways but the rack train was actually quite a gentle and very, very scenic ride to the top of the mountain where the monastery was perched. Once off the train, the guide then route marched the group, with Podge acting as ‘Lantern Rouge’ and Tubbs watching front and back to make sure they didn’t lose touch with everybody else, up the hill to show them where the bus would be when it was time to return to the ship. Having got to the top, the guide then route marched the group all the way back down again to where everybody had got off the train and route marched them all up the other side, passing café’s and shops much to the dismay of Tubbs and, to some extent Podge also, and so the group continued up another hill.

Poor Podge: By now, poor podge was struggling.

Walking was becoming tiresome for Podge, walking uphill took all the breath and energy he had. Podge needed rest. Fortunately, the nest stage was inside the Basilica (Church of Montserrat)  where all were greeted by sights of absolute amazement wth statues and paintings every which way one chose to look. It’s hard to describe how it looks without pictures (these will appear when Podge transcribes all into “Places We Have Visited” or of course one could Google it or look it up in Wikipedia (what would one do without Google or Wikipedia?). Anyway, Podge finally managed to extract himself from the group and take a seat for some quiet time and inner thought. Podge mused, people come here in search of healing so why shouldn’t he but poor Podge didn’t know how to go about it so Podge truly was, today, Podge The Puffer: Poor Podge.

Tubbs was wise. Podge was tired.

Eventually after some rest time, Podge and Tubbs were able to continue to view the inside of this amazing church and then step outside and look out across the mountains and down to the place from whence they came and they then knew just how privileged they were to be where they where. It was truly wondrous. Podge was having another Lourdes / Santiago de Compostela moment. Podge may be becoming a little religious. Soon enough however, Tubbs once again recognised the signs and just knew that what Podge really needed was to go to the souvenir shops, to buy the obligatory fridge magnet, and then off to the coffee shop for a rest and a drink.

All too soon however it was time to take the long walk back up the hill to where the bus would be waiting to take everybody back to the lovely Oceana. It was only a 5% gradient but poor Podge really found it a struggle and was glad to finally climb onto the bus and settle down for an hour and enjoy the scenery during the journey back to Barcelona. At last, the ship came into view and within no time they were back on board and settled onto their balcony. Podge was tired but Podge was happy!

The Lizard returns!

As they sat upon their balcony, the sun came out and shone directly on Tubbs (Podge always knows which chair Tubbs should sit on) and a serene smile spread across her face as she basked in the warm glow of the sun, heating up and storing energy, just like a lizard.

And so the day ended with The Duchess sitting on her balcony smiling contently, gazing down upon the world looking as though all was good. His Podgeness however just sat there trying to breath. Podge had taken The Duchess’s cold as penance for her Massage Session the previous day. Poor Podge.