Sunday, 4 October 2015
04.10.2015 - 04.10.2015
The day started with a reasonable sunrise, when it starts like that you know the day will be good. We arrived at our berth at 08:00 and an 'all aboard' time of 13:30. A very short time to explore the city. We have a ship's tour booked which will use up all of our time in port. We managed to avoid the back of the bus, our guide was quite old and very deaf, his booming voice required almost no amplification. Eager to pass on lots of information but in heavily accented English and I missed a lot of what he said.
Our first destination was the La Popa Monastery built over 400 years ago it sits on the highest feature overlooking the city. The courtyards around the building provided fabulous vantage points for viewing the city below. The chapel is dedicated to the Virgin Candelaria, credited with having saved the city from attack by disease, pirates and foreign powers.
In an impressive feat of driving we managed to get down the mountain for a brief stop at the foot of the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas a massive fortress that was frequently attacked but never fell. A short time later we were invited to visit one of many stores selling 'local' handicraft and souvenir objects. The pressure to 'buy' was almost overwhelming both from the shopkeepers but also the street vendors who offered an endless array of hats, shirts and jewelry. One lady picked up five pairs of ear-rings and five matching bracelets for US$ 20, she thought she was doing well to get the ear-rings for that price. Even broken down to individual beads and used for craft work it seems cheap.
Back on the bus and off to one of the entrances to walled Old City. We walked through a number of the narrow streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beautifully painted and restored Spanish Colonial style houses lined both sides and shared space with bars and restaurants. There were massive cathedrals, coble stoned plazas and some impressive public art. The occasional treed park provided some relief from the sun.
We were collected by our guide and taken through the Gold Museum where many delicate and intricately work artifacts were on display under the watchful eyes of the stern faced guards. An unexpected extra bonus was the cooling effect of the air-conditioning. Back on the streets and off to meet up with our bus and driver. One enterprising vendor handed out free samples of her coffee flavoured candy. Three bags for $5 or seven bags for $10, we thought the $10 deal was worth it.
Found our bus and we were driven to the New City with its five star hotels and tall apartment towers. Here we were offloaded and shepherded into a very exclusive emerald jewelry store. Acting on the agreed time to be back on the bus we arrived with 10 minutes to spare and waited, and waited and waited. Finally the guide and his driver found the errant couple but by this time we were a good half hour behind schedule. Despite the driver's best efforts we arrived back at the ship's side well after 'all aboard' time. We were the last bus to return. Makes it worth buying ship's tours, they guarantee to wait.
A brief refreshing wash and a cold drink and we went to the Theatre to attend Bill Keene's 'Destination Presentation' on our next port of call of Aruba. Sounds like an interesting place to visit. Before heading up to the Horizon Court I spent some time on Deck 7 to capture some images of the setting sun.
After two days of energy sapping heat we can't find the enthusiasm for the soprano performance by Colleen Williamson. Additionally, we put the clocks forward another hour resulting in another short night.
There are many images from today's outing and I've selected an image from the La Popa Monastery Chapel. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony